Welcome to another edition of "Juventus games that don't mean much anything," boys and girls. Or is it...? Juventus have already won the Scudetto weeks ago, they've recently been crowned Coppa Italia winners for the 10th time, the most of any club to ever play the sport in Italy.
There are reasons why Saturday's final home game of the season actually matters. We can try and guess, or we could just sit here and remember what is to be played in exactly two weeks from tomorrow and know that Juventus is going to try and build up to their first Champions League final in 12 years.
Yes, Juventus has something to play for when Napoli comes to Turin for the final game Juventus Stadium will host this season. There might not be anything related to the Serie A table or Juventus having to keep the competition from nipping at their heels with a couple games to play. But there is something, at least when it comes to a big-picture aspect of looking at things, that will benefit Juventus.
So, in order, here's a few things that I am looking have happen when Juve takes the field against Napoli.
- Nobody gets hurt.
- Nobody gets hurt.
- Scudetto presentation.
- SImone Pepe doing Simone Pepe things on the sideline or on the field.
- Nobody gets hurt.
See? All is not lost. There are things to pay attention to instead of watching just to say you watched.
Sure, first place playing fourth place with two games in the season remaining might get a lot more hype compared to what is going down in the lead up to this one. That's mainly a byproduct of Juventus wrapping up the Scudetto with plenty of room to spare yet again this season. If there is any pressure on Juventus, it's for the simple fact that they want to go into the Champions League final playing well.
I'm sure a win would be a nice little addition to that. I don't think Max would disagree with me there.
Next season's Juventus jerseys is about to be damn crowded with patches and stars. It's going to be awesome. And like Max said, they get to celebrate with their Scudetto and parade around with the Coppa Italia at the same time. So if you're looking for a time to tell your friends to tune in and tell them "Kiss the trophies!" then Saturday would be a pretty good chance to do so.
Last home game of the season. :(
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. Just how strong of a team will Max Allegri field?
Juventus are coming off a game on Wednesday and will have a whole week off before their Serie A finale against Hellas Verona next weekend. That's a lot of time to take advantage of if Allegri so desires. He has already announced that the squad will have three straight days off without training following the Napoli game, so Juventus will be as fresh as they've been in weeks no matter who takes the field against Hellas next weekend. I would like to think Allegri would rest at least a few players who logged heavy minutes against Lazio midweek because of this chance to do so. He's been great at rotating the squad this season, and it's not like he's going to suddenly stop doing so just because Juve has a week in between games to close out the season. If that means the likes of Carlos Tevez and Andrea Pirlo aren't playing against Napoli, consider me not shocked at all.
2. Is this the game we finally get to see Kwadwo Asamoah?
The most we have seen of Kwadwo Asamoah in 2015 has been him warming up on the sidelines during the Coppa Italia final on Wednesday or in pictures celebrating Juventus winning trophies. Other than that, it's been a lot of waiting for Juve's No. 22 to finally make his presence be known and get some game action after such a long injury layoff. So consider me one of the folks who was a little surprised when he saw the Gazzetta roll out this predicted lineup on Friday afternoon:
Yep, that's Kwadwo Asamoah playing left back in a 4-3-1-2, ladies and gentlemen. Am I opposed to it? Not one bit. Even if he won't be figuring into the Champions League final at all, I want Asamoah to make a comeback appearance or two before the season is over. And it's interesting that it comes as an all-out left back and not a wingback considering Asamoah has basically made two or three appearances as a full-on defender since coming to Juventus. Maybe Allegri will throw Asamoah out there at left back to see how he handles it. Either way, Asamoah may very well make his return to the lineup on Saturday — and that's good regardless of what position he is playing.
3. Which Napoli team actually shows up.
There is plenty going around Napoli these days — and that's not even counting how they're on the outside looking in when it comes to a Champions League spot. Secret Agent Rafa Benitez has been rumored to be getting a four-year contract, and then a few days later he's being linked to take over for Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid. That's just how things are these days around the city of Naples. Will it affect them on the field? That's the million dollar question. They're obviously fighting for the third and final Champions League spot Serie A has to offer. And knowing that the Rome derby is being played two days later, there's the chance for Napoli to get help from one of their closest competitors for that European spot. That's just kinda stating the obvious, though, since no matter whatever happens in the Roma-Lazio game will be a moot point if Napoli don't get any points against Juventus on Saturday.
4. Alvaro Morata vs. the sometimes suspect Napoli defense.
Napoli enter the 37th round of Serie A fixtures with a plus-20 goal differential, one of the best in Italy's top flight. But that's not thanks to the way their defense has played this season. Napoli has scored 67 goals this season, tied for the most along with some club called "Juventus." However, Napoli has allowed 47 goals this season, which is the same amount as Serie A's 16th-placed team (Empoli) and more than twice as many as the team they're playing on Saturday. So, with that being said, how do you feel about Morata facing a defense like that? Pretty confident, right? The young Spaniard is easily one of Juve's most in-form players right now, having scored in his last three games (Real Madrid x 2 and Inter).
My starting XI (4-3-1-2): Buffon; Padoin, Barzagli, Bonucci, Evra; Sturaro, Marchisio, Pogba; Pereyra; Morata, Coman