Sometimes I'm not really sure when we can actually say the final stretch of the season begins. Is it 33 games into the season? Was it two weeks ago? Is it this weekend? We want answers, dammit! Mainly because the jabroni writing this thing doesn't really know for sure when these things become unofficially official or anything like that.
I know that there is one thing for sure, though.
Five games to go. Juventus with a nine-point lead over the closest of competition. That means even a fewer amount of games before Juve are officially crowned champions for a fifth season in a row. It's happening — soon. It's not a matter of if Juventus will win the Scudetto at this point, it's simply when they will get things done. We're close to counting the amount of points needed to wrap this title up with just one hand. That's it.
Max Allegri has maintained the Scudetto race isn't over until Juventus are mathematically declared champions. And hey, he ain't wrong there, for what it's worth. But can we see Napoli making up nine points in the next three games to pull even with Juventus and sending this whole season for once last loop? The short answer is 'No, hell no," because that's just not all that possible with the way both teams are playing right now.
That means there are only a few more short steps to go before the Scudetto is officially Juventus' for another season. That would be a record five straight titles in case you're wondering. That would make a bit of history, too.
So as much as we want to think the Scudetto race is over, it isn't in the mind of Allegri. And I have a feeling that Max will continue with this line of thinking until the final whistle blows and the points needed to clinch the title are secured.
Patience, grasshoppers. The title celebrations will happen. Almost there, folks.
Last time I checked, Juventus is about to win the Scudetto again, so that's pretty cool if you ask me. More on this situation as it develops, folks.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. Who steps in for Claudio Marchisio? (It's probably Mario Lemina.)
In typical Allegri fashion, when asked the same kind of question that is being raised above, there was no definitive answer to something that we all want to know about.
Now that we've got the usual Allegri kind of starting lineup quote out of the way, we can actually talk about how will try to fill the shoes of one of Juventus' most valuable players.
Just think of it this way: If you were Max Allegri, what would there be telling to not play Mario Lemina from the start? Allegri knows what he has in Hernanes. And while it obviously hasn't been much this season, there's more than just this season to evaluate him on. With Lemina, there's a small sample size to evaluate him, but also the fact that Juve have the decision to make when it comes to his future. You can bet that if Lemina starts, impresses before the season is over, then there could very well be one less thing to worry about come this summer regarding Juve's transfer campaign. Basically, Lemina needs to play, and he deserves to play. If anything, at least when looking at Lemina and Hernanes, at least one of them potentially has a future at Juventus — and that should matter in this decision.
2. Paulo Dybala and closing the season strong.
For the record, the last time I did something like this when it comes to how Dybala was playing, he went out and scored a goal. So let's just hope that this one has the same kind of results. I say that because Dybala has just one goal in his last seven Serie A games. For some folks, that's not the end of the world. For Dybala, it's not that kind of scenario, either. But knowing how well he played through the first, oh, six months of the season, a seven-game stretch like that isn't exactly what you call "lighting the world on fire." I'm willing to cut Dybala a little bit of slack considering he just came back from missing a decent amount of time due to injury. But seeing Dybala close the season in the same kind of fashion as he began it, man, that would be almost as sweet as seeing the Scudetto wrapped up as soon as it's possible.
3. Stephan Lichtsteiner against his former team.
Let's just go ahead and check on what the Swiss Express did the last time he played against Lazio, shall we?
Not that we've gotten that out of the way, we can talk about how much of an absolute pest Lichtsteiner has become since he traded in his last Lazio jersey for bianconero. With Juan Cuadrado playing against Palermo over the weekend, it will be almost two weeks since Lichtsteiner last appeared in a game. So to say he's fresh is an understatement. And to say that he wants to stick it to his former team while at the same time helping his current team win, yeah, that's also pretty safe to assume is the truth. Do you want to see Lichtsteiner bombing up and down the right wing at Juventus Stadium? Of course you do. And for a player like Lichtsteiner who loves himself some motivation, playing against Lazio might be one of the biggest motivators of all. it's as simple as that.
My starting lineup
Juventus XI (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon; Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Daniele Rugani; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sami Khedira, Mario Lemina, Paul Pogba, Alex Sandro; Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic
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