Whether he's been in front of a microphone at his pre-match press conference or after a Juventus win the last few weeks, Max Allegri has had to do the simple math when it comes to how points are needed to clinch the Scudetto. We've gone from 10 to seven and now four. Just four points. That's all, man.
Even if Roma beat Napoli on Monday, there will be one point needed to officially put this thing to rest and lock up a fifth consecutive Serie A title.
That is if Juventus takes care of business on Sunday in Florence.
We have all of four games remaining in the 2015-16 Serie A season, boys and girls. It was a campaign that started as gloom and doom as we've seen in years. Then, following the Turin derby win over city rivals Torino on Halloween, the ball got rolling. And, since then, it hasn't stopped. Juventus stormed to the top of the table and has picked up a remarkable 70 points in its last 24 matches — which just so happens to be a Serie A record.
Even take everything regarding the Scudetto scenario out of this game. This is the biggest game Juventus has left excluding the Coppa Italia final against Milan on May 21. All three remaining opponents after this weekend are 15th place or lower. Those teams will be playing for their Serie A lives when they face Juventus. But Juve, at least this week, will be playing to essentially wrap up the title once and for all.
The latest Scudetto party is going to be taking place in short order.
It's just a matter when, officially, the title will be in Juventus' hands once again. Maybe in a couple of days, maybe next weekend, maybe maybe maybe.
Or Juve can just go into their second-to-last away fixture of the season with the kind of mindset that Max Allegri brought up at his pre-match press conference. it's hard to disagree with it, too. He's a pretty smart cat, if you ask me.
Honestly, that's the way it should be, Max. That's how Juventus have been able to turn this whole season around and get to where they're at right now. We don't want to see this team quietly stroll across the finish line. We want them to finish the season out strong and with a final exclamation point. No better way to do that than in Firenze against team that is desperately in need of points in their own right.
Juventus' form over the aforementioned 24 games.
That's beautiful, man. Beautiful.
I'm still sad about Claudio Marchisio's knee injury. Don't hate.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. Can Paulo Dybala build off his midweek performance?
No, I am not going to sit here and tell you how Dybala once again did big things after I mentioned how he's been a little quiet lately in a match preview. (But I will quietly take all the credit because obviously he's a loyal reader.) But the fact that Dybala scored a pair of goals against Lazio means that the un-Dybala-like spell of low goal-scoring numbers is now a thing of the past. The only thing left for Dybala is to, once again, continue this run he's suddenly on. He's proven it time and time again already. I mean, remember that stretch earlier in the season where it seemed like Dybala was scoring in just about every game he was playing in? Obviously it wasn't totally the case, but it was damn fun to watch. You know what would also be fun to watch? Paulo Dybala closing the season with a bang, a very big bang that involves him hitting the 20-goal mark and continuing to be awesome. (Not that he wouldn't be if he didn't score another goal this season, but you hopefully get what I mean.)
2. Juan Cuadrado against his former team.
There is nothing more that I would like to see outside of Dybala's wonderful face celebrating another goal than Cuadrado running absolutely wild up and down the right wing at the Franchi. I say this because with Stephan Lichtsteiner playing on Wednesday against Lazio, the possibility of Cuadrado playing against his former club looks pretty good. There's the whole keeping Lichtsteiner fresh part, but also the fact that Juventus can actually use the Ex Effect in its favor for once. Allegri did so against Lazio with Hernanes, and can do the same with Cuadrado on Sunday. Maybe that is actually something that goes into Allegri's thought process, but who knows. But knowing Cuadrado's capability of being really, really good and how wobbly Fiorentina have been lately (more on that later), that adds up to a pretty good thing to me.
3. Does Sami Khedira play in a third straight game?
Through the first 34 rounds of the Serie A season, the German midfielder has yet to play in back-to-back-to-back games. Some of that is because of his handful of injury issues this season. But it's also because Allegri has done a rather admirable job handling Khedira and making sure that he hasn't been overtaxed considering those injury troubles. Everybody is expecting Khedira to play against Fiorentina, and with his natural backup, Stefano Sturaro, suspended — and dealing with the mumps — it's not like Allegri has a quick and logical alternative to step in. So that means Khedira will try to continue this nice run of form he's on despite having not played in three straight games at all so far this season. The good thing is that Allegri replace Khedira with Sturaro midway through the second half of the Lazio win midweek, which means the former didn't log heavy minutes in a game where he could have. Maybe Allegri did that on purpose. I wouldn't put it past him, honestly. Like I said, he's monitored Khedira's minutes pretty well this season. Guy does know what he's doing, folks.
4. Does Fiorentina put together a competitive team?
Fiorentina might have won the last time they stepped onto their home field at the Franchi, but that's one of the few bright spots in an otherwise glum run the past six weeks. The 3-1 win over Domenico Berardi and Co. stands as La Viola's lone league win since mid-February. Around that time, Fiorentina were actually a solid contender to finish in the top three and grab one of Italy's Champions League spots. Now, it's likely another trip to the Europa League for a club that has finished fourth in back-to-back-to-back seasons. They're obviously going to be fired up with Juventus coming to town. There aren't too many squad selection issues as just about every important player Fiorentina has is going to be available for selection come Sunday night. Now we just have to see if this team that was playing so well the last time Juventus saw them is able to turn things around in the final few weeks of the season. Obviously I don't want them to start that against our bianconero friends, but I'm just biased.
My starting lineup
Juventus XI: Gianluigi Buffon; Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Daniele Rugani; Juan Cuadrado, Sami Khedira, Mario Lemina, Paul Pogba, Patrice Evra; Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala
TV: beIN SPORTS USA, RAI International (United States); beIN Sports Canada, RAI International (Canada); BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom); Sky Sport 1 HD Italia, Sky Supercalcio HD, Sky Calcio 1 (Italy)
Online: fuboTV, beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A. (United States); beIN SPORTS CONNECT Canada (Canada); BT Sport Live Streaming (United Kingdom); SKY Go Italia (Italy)
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