Christmas is right around the corner, guys and gals. It's not exactly breaking news. Just go ahead and click on the television and you'll be reminded of it no problem. That means time for presents and gorging our faces full of food before those silly New Year's resolutions we all made actually comes into the picture. Before you force yourself to go to the gym for two weeks in search of better health and less pasta, I have one suggestion for you.
Juventus and Carpi will be spending the final lunchtime kickoff of 2015 on the same field as one another for the very first time ever. It's your final chance to watch Juve before we refer to 2015 as a thing of the past. So, if you wanna say you were there, maybe watching the game in the United States before the sun actually rises, then you're in luck here, folks.
Sure, I guess it's about more than just the early-morning kickoff from where I'm sitting in the U.S. or the fact that Juve are playing a club they obviously know they should because of where it is in the standings.
This is simply about Juve coming in after a huge win over a city rival in a very intense derby and continuing what they've been doing for weeks now. Forget the fact that the midweek win was in the Coppa Italia for a second. Juventus has continued this upward trajectory they're on with the win over Torino. It was a wonderful win — filled with everything from Simone Zaza almost getting sent off and then scoring a couple of goals, Paulo Dybala being awesome even though he didn't even start the game and then Paul Pogba putting the cherry on top with a goal off a free kick (!!!).
Yes, Carpi isn't very good. They've won all of two games in 16 tries as life in Serie A proves ever-difficult for the newbies. It's not easy, thus the reason they're sitting in 19th place come the final game of 2015. But they also knocked Fiorentina out of the Coopa Italia just a short time ago, so it's not like they're just showing up and getting handled by all of their opponents at every opportunity.
Despite all of that, Juve should win this because it's a good team against one that could be going back to Serie B come the end of the season. But, at the same, we know how difficult and/or tricky a game like this could potentially be. In a perfect world, Juve will get an early lead, get up a couple of goals before the half and then cruise over the final 45 minutes. And as good as Juve have played in this recent run up the table, there are always potential speed bumps out there.
It sure would be nice if this isn't one those potential hiccups, man. I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to head into the holiday break and new year celebrations with plenty of happy Juventus thoughts rather than wanting to slam my head against the table because they dropped points against one of the biggest relegation battlers out there.
Juventus is currently in fourth place. They were in 16th about three months ago. That thing we like to call 'patience,' it pays off, folks.
No Juventus games until the sixth day of January after tomorrow afternoon's trip to Carpi. That's sad. What the hell are we going to do for the next two weeks? We can't blame this on the international break...
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. How full of a full squad will play in the final game before the international break?
The funny thing about this being after a Coppa Italia game is that if this were being played virtually any other weekend we'd be talking about this being the squad rotation game. Max Allegri would probably think something along the lines of "Nineteenth place, let's get some of the reserves some playing time!!" And since I always want to know what's going on inside of Max Allegri's brain, then I will continue to try and decipher what he so desires with his starting lineup. But, when it comes to the timing of this game, it's the final one before the holiday break, which means there's plenty of rest and relaxation for every single player on the roster before they're due back for training. How much the holiday break plays into Allegri's plans is a complete mystery to a lot of folks, and knowing that he fielded a relatively first-choice squad against Torino midweek probably isn't helping matters at all. So, thanks for that one, Max. You're the best.
2. How Juan Cuadrado handles being a wing back.
Look, Carpi is in 19th place. They've allowed a league-high 30 goals through 16 games this season. To say that they're executing much of anything right in the maiden Serie A voyage is probably an understatement at this point. So, as we've seen with plenty of low-ranking clubs do when Juve comes to town, seeing Carpi sit back and try and absorb all the pressure it can could very well happen. That means Juventus will not only have to be smart in the way they attack their opponents, but they might not have as many free-flowing, speed-friendly counterattacks as they have in previous games. Cuadrado — who many expect to start ahead of Stephan Lichtsteiner on Sunday afternoon — loves him some counterattacks because it suits his game perfectly. He can get out in run and not have to try and break the defense down with slick passes or anything like that. Cuadrado as a wingback this season has been a mixed bag. There's been some good, there's been some meh. The good thing is that it hasn't cost Juventus any games, in all likelihood, so there's that.
3. Marco Borriello: The ultimate Ex Effect wild card.
We all remember when Borriello was a Juventus player. It wasn't necessarily a long-term pairing, but it's also one that was at the start of a simply awesome four-year run Juve has gone on in Serie A. Borriello has a lot of former teams, but he's now at Carpi and probably going to start against this former team. (Although, because I am a completely selfish person, I really want to write 'Kevin Lasagna' as many times as I possibly can before this preview is over with.) Borriello is one of Carpi's few goal-scoring threats, recording three of their 13 Serie A goals this season. That's not a lot, but then again, it's not like Carpi is bursting at the seam with other strikers lighting the scoring charts ablaze this season. So, when Borriello (likely) takes the field against Juventus tomorrow, remember the good times ... and the Borriello mustache. It could have been bad times, but they turned out to be some good times.
Oh, and, just so we're clear: Kevin Lasagna. Kevin Lasagna. Kevin Lasagna. Kevin Lasagna.
Now that I've got that out of my system, let's go play some ball.
My starting lineup
Juventus XI (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon; Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini; Juan Cuadrado, Stefano Sturaro, Claudio Marchisio, Paul Pogba, Patrice Evra; Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala
TV: beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Español, RAI International (United States); beIN Sports Canada, beIN en Español, RAI International (Canada); BT Sport Europe (United Kingdom); Sky Supercalcio HD, Sky Calcio 1 (Italy)
Online: beIN Sports CONNECT (United States); beIN Sport CONNECT Canada (Canada); BT Sport Live Streaming (United Kingdom); Sky Go Italia (Italy)
Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live on Twitter. If you haven't already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.