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Game Time Thread: Juventus vs. Fiorentina

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Let’s hope that the first day of December turns out to be a fairly enjoyable one.

Jeroen Meuwsen/Soccrates/Getty Images

In previous seasons, the month of December would basically end up being a two- or three-week period where Juventus will close out the Champions League group stage, play a couple of Serie A fixtures and then go into an extended Christmas holiday and not be seen until the new year. But this year, just like the last one, is different. Serie A isn’t going to be gone for the holidays. There will be a whole lot of football before and after Christmas.

And because of it, Juventus will know where they stand at the midway point of the season even before they celebrate 2019 officially arriving.

There are big games over the course of this next month. There are actually a lot of big games, so much so that there’s pretty much every one of the seven fixtures this month have something different riding on it. It doesn’t matter if it’s clinching the top spot in the Champions League group stage against Young Boys or a couple of derbies against Inter and Torino, there are storylines and implications riding on pretty much every turn that this month’s schedule will take.

The first of those fixtures of massive importance is Saturday night against Fiorentina at the Franchi, a place where results have been a little interesting over the last few years. We’ve seen straight up draws, we’ve seen Juventus blowout wins (and Simone Padoin goals) and we’ve seen Juve self-destruct in one of the worst games we’ve seen them play this decade.

Stupid Giuseppe Rossi. (Just kidding, Joe, you’re still cool in my book even with that game.)

With an eight-point lead and a busy month ahead with plenty of big fixtures, I don’t think anybody can deny the importance of starting December off right. Not just with a win, but playing well in the process. I know that seems cliché, and it kinda is. But as we steam toward the midway point of the season at the end of the month, continuing to be in total command of a healthy lead atop the Serie A standings will allow Max Allegri to set things up nicely for the early months of 2019 when things really do get interesting on multiple fronts.

Oh, and one more thing...

I have a fun fact for you all: Juventus are the only team in Europe’s major five leagues to not suffer a loss away from home so far this season. For our sake, for our black-and-white rooting interests, I think it’s safe to say that those of us around here want to keep it that way come a couple of hours from now.

MATCH INFO

When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018

Where: Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, Italy

Official kickoff time: 6 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 5 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 12 noon Eastern Time; 9 a.m. Pacific Time

STARTING LINEUPS

Juventus starting XI (4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1): Szczesny; De Sciglio, Bonucci, Chiellini, Cancelo; Cuadrado, Bentancur, Matuidi; Dybala, Mandzukic, Cristiano Ronaldo

Juventus bench: Pinsoglio, Perin, Benatia, Pjanic, Douglas Costa, Barzagli, Kean, Rugani, Bernardeschi, Spinazzola

Fiorentina starting XI (4-3-3): Lafont; Milenkovic, Pezzella, Hugo, Biraghi; Edimilson, Benassi, Veretout; Chiesa, Simeone, Gerson

HOW TO WATCH

Television: RAI Italia America (United States); RAI Italia America (Canada); Eleven Sports 2 UK (United Kingdom); Sky Supercalcio HD, Sky Sport Serie A, Sky Calcio 1 (Italy)

Online/mobile: ESPN+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); SKY Go Italia (Italy)

Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you haven’t already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.