It's been a long time since we've seen Andrea Barzagli play. An even longer amount of time when you think about the last time Barzagli sported those famed Juventus stripes in a Serie A game. Just for kicks, try and remember when the last time Barzagli made an appearance without looking it up online.
It's okay, I had to look it up, too.
(For the record, it was all the way back on May 11, 2014 against Roma — which Juventus won 1-0, by the way. Thanks a bunch, Dani Osvaldo.)
But, if the Gazzetta dello Sport is anywhere close to being accurate on what they are reporting on Monday, the long-awaited return for the 33-year-old defender is actually close to happening. Like really, really close. And not one of those he's-on-the-bench-so-count-as-a-return kind of things. Nah, like the real deal type of return where it involves Barzagli actually stepping on the field and getting some much-needed minutes to see if he can contribute in the second half of the season.
Now, as the sometimes-accurate sometimes-not-even-close-to-being-accurate Italian daily newspaper points out, it won't be the full-on 90-minute kind of return this weekend against Cesena. That opportunity may come, if everything goes to plan on Sunday in Emilia-Romagna, the next Friday night when Atalanta comes to Juventus Stadium.
But, even if Barzagli doesn't play many minutes against Cesena, the long comeback is close to being over. And judging by how much time he has missed over the last 12 to 15 months, making sure this injury is done and behind him for good is the only way to go about things.