Ever since Juventus returned from the holiday break, our lives have been pretty much full of football. If it’s not a Serie A fixture, it’s the Coppa Italia. If it’s not the Coppa Italia, it’s the Champions League knockout round, which I’m happy to say Juve are happily still taking part in when April arrives.
Alas, for the first time in 2017, an international break is upon us in a matter of hours.
First, though, Juventus has one more game to take care of in what has been quite the hectic past two-and-a-half months of playing on all three fronts. We’ve gone from relegation battlers in Serie A to battling in the Champions League and back again. While Juventus’ opponents on Sunday afternoon in Genoa, Sampdoria, aren’t sitting in any kind of danger and have had a relatively solid season and haven’t lost a game since late-January, the end-goal remains exactly the same as it’s always been.
Get closer and closer to that magical point total that will see another Scudetto make its way to Juventus Stadium.
Juventus’ last two league games have been rather different kinds of circumstances. They never seemed to get out of first gear while slogging to a 1-1 draw at the Friuli against Udinese. Then there was the wild 1-0 win over Milan two Fridays ago when Paulo Dybala scored from the penalty spot in what seemed like the 25th minute of stoppage time. Those are two vastly different kinds of games with obviously two different kinds of outcomes.
Throw in a relatively simple Champions League fixture against Porto earlier this week and you have a Juventus team that is still competing on all three fronts, still well on its way to winning another Serie A title, about to look to book its place in another Coppa Italia final after the international break and is well aware of its next European opponent.
Extraordinary is good. Making history is really good. The Scudetto seems more and more like a certainty at this point. And now we just get to sit back and watch Juventus get closer and closer and closer to winning it. It won’t happen this game or the first one after the international break. But at the very least we know that a win against Sampdoria this afternoon gets them three points closer. That’s pretty good to know, too.
Location: Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy
Kick-off time: 3 p.m. local time in Italy; 2 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 10 a.m. on the East Coast; 7 a.m. on the West Coast
Juventus starting XI (4-2-3-1): Gianluigi Buffon; Dani Alves, Andrea Barzagli, Daniele Rugani, Kwadwo Asamoah; Sami Khedira, Miralem Pjanic; Juan Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic; Gonzalo Higuain
Juventus bench: Neto, Emil Audero, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Claudio Marchisio, Mario Lemina, Tomas Rincon, Stefano Sturaro, Marko Pjaca, Moise Kean
Sampdoria starting XI (4-3-1-2): Christian Puggioni; Jacopo Sala, Matias Silvestre, Milan Skriniar, Vasco Regini; Edgar Barreto, Lucas Torreira, Karol Linetty; Bruno Fernandes; Luis Muriel, Fabio Quagliarella.
Sampdoria bench: Titas Krapikas, Wladimiro Falcone, Lorenco Simic, Dodo, Ricky Alvarez, Patrik Schick, Angelo Palombo, Dennis Praet, Daniel Pavlovic, Filip Djuricic, Bartosz Bereszynski, Ante Budimir
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