Today is the day.
Today is the day that Juventus can, finally, secure its spot in the Champions League group stage, which would be a good idea considering there are no more group stage games remaining after this week.
Today is the day that Juventus can, after two previous tries, avoid disaster of having their European football competition come the new year start with “Champions” instead of “Europa” whenever their name is brought up.
Today is the day where, regardless of the result, the Champions League group stage comes to an end for Juventus against Olympiacos.
Juventus’ final group stage has one massive thing attached to it — their Champions League future this season. A Juve win or some help from Barcelona in the Group D game going on tonight means the six-time Serie A champions advance to the knockout round of the Champions League and guarantee that they will be a part of Europe’s premier club competition come the new year.
It’s that simple.
But sometimes it’s not always simple when Juventus plays in Europe.
So there’s that.
There’s also this, though: Juventus played one of its best games of the season just four days ago away from home against then-league leaders Napoli. Another performance like that and the chances of picking up all three points in Greece are pretty good. But if Juve struggle like they have been for a good amount of the time in Europe so far this season and things could very well get more than just a little interesting.
We all know the situation. We all know what it will take for Juventus to advance to the knockout round. There’s no much else to say about it, really.
Or, instead of rambling on, I could just post this quote from Max Allegri that was said during his pre-match press conference on Monday evening:
"We can't afford to wait and see what Barcelona's result will be. Either we win or we run the risk of exiting the Champions League. Tomorrow, our approach must be spot on. We have to be patient and take our chances to win the game."
Couldn’t have said it any better, Max. Spot on.
Please win, Juventus. Or, better yet, please don’t lose, Juventus.
Just get to the knockout round. That’s all I want this Tuesday to consist of right now.
Location: Karaiskakis Stadium, Athens, Greece
Kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy; 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 2:45 p.m. on the East Coast; 11:45 a.m. on the West Coast
Juventus starting XI (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; De Sciglio, Benatia, Barzagli, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Matuidi; Cuadrado, Dybala, Douglas Costa; Higuain
Juventus bench: Pinsoglio, Pjanic, Marchisio, Mandzukic, Asamoah, Rugani, Bernardeschi
Olympiacos starting XI (4-2-3-1): Proto; Elabdellaoui, Engels, Nikolao, Koutris; Romao, Tachtsidis; Pardo, Odjidja, Seba; Djurdjevic
Olympiacos bench: Choutesiotis, Botia, Fortounis, Marin, Gillet, Nabouhane, Andoutsos
TV: TSN4 (Canada); BT Sport Extra (United Kingdom); PremiumSport HD (Italy)
Online/Mobile: ESPN3 USA, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes+ USA, Fox Soccer Plus, FOX Soccer Match Pass, (United States); TSN GO (Canada); Premium Play (Italy)
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