At last, we can talk about something other than how many points Juventus needs to get into the Champions League’s Round of 16.
This time, we get to talk about how many points Juventus needs to make sure they finish atop Champions League Group H and give themselves just that much better of a chance of getting a relatively favorite draw in the Round of 16.
So, kind of the same thing, except with a much better kind of twist to it.
Wednesday night in Switzerland isn’t Juventus’ final European game of the season. Rather, it’s just their final game of the Champions League group stage. And while facing a Young Boys side that Juventus has already beaten 3-0 thanks to Paulo Dybala’s hat trick two months ago, the top spot in Group H is very much up for the taking. The good part is that Juve have the inside track on it and will only lose out on it if they self-destruct on the final day of the group stage — something that will probably have Max Allegri doing more than just ripping his jacket off and throwing it on the ground.
(The Round of 16 draw is next Monday in Nyon, in case you’re wondering or have forgotten.)
That means it’s simple for Juventus. You know, just like it was at home against Manchester United, just like it was at home against Valencia. You get a win and then you’re not having to leave yourself to wonder how Manchester United are doing against Valencia. Juve get a win and the main goal of finishing atop the group, one that Max Allegri made sure to emphasize once again during his pre-match press conference on Tuesday, is there and achieved.
It doesn’t even matter if you’re playing on field turf, actual grass or ... sand.
Just as will be the case when United face Valencia, Allegri plans on at least doing a bit of squad rotation. Allegri has already declared that captain Giorgio Chiellini will not play because he doesn’t want to risk the 34-year-old’s health on the field turf. (OMG DANIELE RUGANI GETS TO PLAY NOW!) Blaise Matuidi will also not play from the start, with there being the distinct possibility that Emre Can gets a good bit of playing time. We could also see Joao Cancelo get a rest now that Mattia De Sciglio is playing absolutely great and Alex Sandro is back in the fold after his own injury spell.
And as Allegri said, if Juve had already wrapped up the top spot in Group H, then it would have been even more of a starting lineup filled with backups.
But, as the Mister said even before last Friday’s Derby d’Italia against Inter, this is the fixture in this pair of back-to-back big games where more of the importance has been placed.
That’s because first place in Group H is still very much up for grabs.
There’s still work to do, obviously. But when you’re the one controlling your own destiny and where you finish in your group, there’s only so much more you can ask for other than simply achieving what is out there for the taking.
Juventus — 12 points
Manchester United — 10 points
That’s it. That’s the list.
Emre Can is back from injury. Alex Sandro is back from injury. Juventus are atop Group H heading into the final group stage game of this season’s Champions League competition.
The bad news section will take the day off.
1) Can Juventus get the job done?
There will actually only be one key in the three keys section of this match preview.
And as much as we can sit here and talk about who’s potentially being rested, who will step in for said players and what kind of formation Allegri will end up using as a result of the expected squad rotation that’s almost certainly going to take place.
(My money’s on a 4-4-2, by the way. So, TAKE THAT.)
This is about one thing and one thing only: Juventus winning.
Young Boys enters Wednesday’s group stage finale with one point out of five games. There’s no chance of the Europa League happening. They’re entering this game knowing full well that no matter if it’s win, lose or draw, they’re going to finish at the bottom of Group H.
Juventus has already beaten Young Boys once, and done it in rather convincing fashion on top of that.
Now, I know that Juve’s recent history has a rather interesting sample size of away fixtures against the team that is either perceived as the worst team in the group or the one that is sitting in last place at the time. It’s gotten them into trouble in the past. Or, at the very least, made things a lot tougher than they should have been.
Avoiding all of that means a first-place finish and, in theory, a better chance at getting a favorable draw in the Round of 16. To get that chance, though, points will have to be won in Switzerland — and that’s priority Nos. 1, 2 and 3 come Juve’s group stage finale.
When: Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018
Where: Stade de Suisse, Bern, Switzerland
Official kickoff time: 9 p.m. local time and across Europe; 8 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 3 p.m. Eastern Time; 12 noon Pacific Time
HOW TO WATCH
Television: Univision Deportes, Univision (United States); BT Sport ESPN (United Kingdom); Sky Sport Uno, Sky Calcio 2, RAI Uno (Italy)
Online/mobile: Univision NOW, Univision Deportes En Vivo, B/R Live (United States); DAZN (Canada); BT Sport Live (United Kingdom); SKY Go Italia, RAI Play (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.