Juventus getting snowed out last weekend changed a few things when it has come to talking about this incredibly important stretch of games during the month of March.
For one, we’re not going to be playing the win-and-you’re-ahead-of-Napoli-for-a-couple-hours game for the next two weeks until Juve makes up their Serie A fixture against Atalanta. The deficit entering what is Serie A’s 27th round of fixtures, even with Juventus having a game in hand for a couple of weeks, is now four points in the aftermath of Napoli destroying Cagliari on Monday.
Maybe just as important, if not more, is the fact that even more of a need to win tonight against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico has happened. Dropped points against Lazio tonight means that Napoli could potentially open up a six- or seven-point lead atop the table.
We don’t want that to happen.
But to prevent that from happening, Juventus will have to beat a team that they’ve lost to twice already this season. (Maybe one of those losses shouldn’t have happened, but I there’s no changing any of that right now.)
You know, the same Lazio that currently sits in third place in Serie A right behind Juventus and has been able to right the ship after a three-game losing skid just a few weeks ago.
And that means that there are plenty of matchups to watch.
You’ve got Paulo Dybala, in his return to the starting lineup, against Stefan de Vrij. (And Dybala potentially starting as a false 9 depending on Mario Mandzukic’s reported training injury he picked up on Friday.)
You’ve got Ciro Immobile, a one-man Juve wrecking crew this season, against Giorgio Chiellini ( ... or Medhi Benatia ... or Andrea Barzagli ... or Daniele Rugani).
You’ve got Miralem Pjanic against Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
And on. And on. And on.
Juventus doesn’t have the comfort of knowing that a win will get them back into first place before Napoli plays later that day or within the next 24 hours. There’s no more room for error as any dropped points will mean that the hill Juve have to try and overcome in the final two months of the season is that much greater.
Basically wha1t I’m trying to say is that Juventus losing shouldn’t be an option on this multiple choice exam. Not even close. Keep it far, far away.
Location: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
Kickoff time: 6 p.m. local time in Italy; 5 p.m. un the United Kingdom; 12 p.m. high noon on the East Coast; 9 a.m. on the West Coast
Juventus starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Rugani, Benatia; Lichtsteiner, Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi, Asamoah; Dybala, Mandzukic
Juventus bench: Szczesny, Chiellini, Howedes, Sturaro, Douglas Costa, Bentancur, Marchisio, Del Favero, Alex Sandro
Lazio starting XI (3-5-1-1): Strakosha; Luiz Felipe, De Vrij, Radu; Lulic, Parolo, Leiva, Milinkovic-Savic, Lukaku; Luis Alberto; Immobile
Lazio bench: Guerrieri, Vargic, Bastos, Basta, Patric, Murgia, Crecco, Jordao, Lukaku, Nani, Felipe Anderson, Caicedo
HOW TO WATCH
Television: beIN Sports USA (joined in progress), RAI Italia America (United States); beIN Sports Canada, Rai Italia America (Canada); BT Sport 3 (United Kingdom); PremiumSport HD, Sky Supercalcio HD, Sky Calcio 1 (Italy)
Online/Mobile: fuboTV, beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A. (United States); fuboTV Canada, beIN SPORTS CONNECT Canada, DAZN Canada (Canada); BT Sport Live (United Kingdom); SKY Go Italia, Premium 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.
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