Round 38 on the Serie A schedule the past seven years haven’t meant much to Juventus in the grand scheme of things. They’ve been days in which the title has been wrapped up for at least a round or two already, with all that’s left is to see out the rest of the season and then that will be that.
In a way, Saturday’s season finale is exactly one of those times.
In every other way, Saturday’s season finale is so much more.
This is a Scudetto party. But, more importantly, this is going to be a farewell party for the goalkeeper Juventus has seen patrolling the 18-yard box for the vast majority of the past two decades. This is Gianluigi Buffon’s final game in a Juventus jersey — a day we knew was coming sooner rather than later, but one that will certainly be tough to sit through no matter what the final scoreline ends up being.
Seventeen years of goalkeeping excellence, absolute professionalism and the walking definition of Lo Stile Juve is about to walk through the Allianz Stadium tunnel as he leads the starting XI out onto the field one last time.
It’s the end of an era. Maybe not for Juventus, but for the man who has been their captain for the past six seasons and a pillar of their success for much, much longer than that.
This was his decision, his choice, to step away now (as well as leave the door to potentially play somewhere else next season). The words he has spoken about the club he has spent nearly two decades at have been gut punches right to the feels because there are few people who love Juventus as much as Buffon does, few players who have meant as much to Buffon does and achieved as much as Buffon has in a Juventus jersey.
This will be Buffon’s 656th and final Juventus appearance.
There will hopefully be one final and 405th victory with Juventus.
There will hopefully be one final and 301st shutout with Buffon in Juve’s goal.
We know the fans who will have the honor of being there Saturday afternoon will give our beloved San Gigi the sendoffs of all sendoffs because we saw it six years ago when Alessandro Del Piero played his final game at Juventus Stadium. We don’t know how it will all go down, but to think that the Juve faithful won’t give Buffon every round of applause and standing ovation that he deserves.
The admiration will certainly continue into the Scudetto presentation, with Buffon lifting the fabled trophy above his head one last time as confetti is shot out of cannons and then falls from the sky.
As much as Saturday is about celebrating a historic seventh consecutive Serie A title, this is Buffon’s day — and that’s how it should be. He deserves a standing ovation from the opening whistle until the final one. It’s been 17 years in the making.
Juventus clinched the Serie A title last weekend, meaning this weekend can be an absolute party — for more than just one obvious reason.
Um, read the first 490 or so words of this post and you’ll get the idea.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1) Gigi Buffon’s last stand.
If there’s ever a time for the guy to get a shutout, it’s this one.
Every single sign of admiration that Buffon receives over the course of the pre-game warmups, the 90 or so minutes of game time and the Scudetto presentation will be deserved.
Whether you can make it through all three of those stages without shedding a tear will be, what I would assume, an absolute miracle. This is Gigi Buffon’s final game, folks. Let it out.
2) Claudio Marchisio’s last stand?
In a very Max Allegri-like move with the Serie A title already wrapped up, Juve’s manager revealed nearly all of his starting lineup at his pre-match press conference on Friday.
Marchisio was amongst those names included in the starting lineup.
For as much as we know, all of the rumors surrounding his future are just a bunch of hogwash and the same guy who has worn Juve’s No. 8 jersey for the past decade will be the same person come the MLS All-Star Game in August. I mean, outside of one season on loan at Empoli, the only home that Marchisio has known has been Turin and the only club he has represented has been Juventus.
But there’s no denying that this season has not been easy for Marchisio personally. He’s had to work his way back from injury again, his playing time has taken a significant hit and, as a result, he hasn’t been able to contribute nearly as much as a champion like he is would want.
That has caused rumors about Marchisio re-evaluating his future at the club to pop up throughout the last few months. More than those silly rumors about him being linked to Manchester United or Arsenal or some other club that just makes you laugh. No, considering how this season has played out for Marchisio, it’s a got a little bit more of a worry factor attached to it.
I want it to be paper talk again.
I think a lot of us want it to be that way, too.
We’re going to find out over the next weeks or months if it actually is.
While there may be two of the Magnificent 5 playing their final games with Juventus this weekend — Buffon and Stephan Lichtsteiner — let’s hope that the guy who has made the No. 8 jersey his own sticks around a little while longer. (I hate that I even have to type that.)
MY STARTING LINEUP
Juventus XI (4-3-2-1): Gianluigi Buffon; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Daniele Rugani, Andrea Barzagli, Kwadwo Asamoah; Claudio Marchisio, Rodrigo Bentancur, Blaise Matuidi; Paulo Dybala, Douglas Costa; Gonzalo Higuain
When: Saturday, May 18, 2018
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy
Kickoff time: 3 p.m. local time in Italy; 2 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 9 a.m. on the East Coast; 6 a.m. on the West Coast
HOW TO WATCH
Television: beIN SPORTS USA, beIN SPORTS en Español, Rai Italia America (United States); beIN Sports Canada, beIN SPORTS en Español, Rai Italia America (Canada); BT Sport Extra (United Kingdom); Sky Sport 1 HD Italia, PremiumSport HD, Sky Supercalcio HD, Sky Calcio 1 (Italy)
Online/Mobile: beIN SPORTS CONNECT, fuboTV (United States); beIN SPORTS CONNECT Canada, DAZN (Canada); BT Sport Live (United Kingdom); Premium Play, Eleven Sports Italy, 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.
And don’t forget to like our page on Facebook, either!