At this point, match previews for Juventus’ Serie A fixtures seem to be the same type of thing. The games are pretty much clear-cut second in priority when it comes to Juventus’ current standing in the Champions League — and it’s even going to be more of the case based on what can happen this weekend if the seven-time defending Italian champions take care of business against a club that is trying very hard to not fall any closer to the relegation zone.
All Max Allegri’s squad needs is one. No, not one mic like Nas wants. But all of one point to officially change the title of “seven-time” champions to “eight-time” champions.
Just one point.
I get that this title run has been incredibly anticlimactic over the last couple of months simply because Juventus’ lead atop the Serie A standings has just been comically large. I mean, when you’re up 21 points on the closest competition, it’s hard not to just sit back in your chair, have a sip of your beverage and chuckle. As dominating as Juve has been in Serie A — in terms of results, at least — over the better part of the last decade, we’ve rarely seen it push double digits where the first digit starts with a ‘2.’ That’s what makes this — at least a small bit — entertaining as Juventus just cruise on into title No. 37.
But, as much as last weekend was a situation where Juventus needed help to wrap up the title, this weekend is the exact opposite. If Juve gets a draw or win against SPAL, that’s it and the 2018-19 Serie A title will officially be over (after being over for the last, oh, seven or eight weeks). They don’t need any help from the team that Napoli is playing. They don’t need Napoli to do anything, really. This weekend, Napoli’s result doesn’t matter one bit.
Juventus gets a point, Juventus gets the title.
That sounds like a pretty good thing to know going in.
Of course, knowing that this game is sandwiched in between Juventus’ Champions League quarterfinal against Ajax, it’s going to be pretty clear to know where Max Allegri’s mind will be when he sets up his starting lineup. There will likely be heavy squad rotation — and that’s the way it should be with much more riding on Tuesday night’s fixture rather than the one that stands immediately in front of Juventus. I’m pretty sure that we don’t need Allegri himself to get up on the mic and tell us that at his pre-match press conference. It’s easy to figure out this time around.
Almost as easy as the fact that Juve needs all of one point to wrap up their eighth straight Serie A title.
Have I mentioned that Juve need a single point out of this game to clinch their latest Scudetto? Yeah, I think I have, but here’s another reminder.
That goddamn turnover from Joao Cancelo right after halftime on Wednesday night still has me shaking my head.
1) Squad rotation. All of the squad rotation.
I don’t want to see Cristiano Ronaldo.
I don’t want to see Mario Mandzukic.
I don’t want to see Federico Bernardeschi, Giorgio Chiellini, Joao Cancelo, Alex Sandro and the like playing against SPAL on Saturday.
I don’t want to see anybody who started against Ajax even touch the field when Juve plays SPAL. None of it. If Allegri wants to hand Hans Nicolussi Caviglia his first-ever senior squad start, then I’m totally OK with it. If he wants to have half of the matchday squad be players from Juventus’ Under-23 team in Serie C, then so be it. That’s all good in my book.
We’ve been saying for weeks now that Juventus’ massive lead in Serie A will be beneficial when it comes to allowing Allegri to rotating the squad in the midst of what could be a deep Champions League run. And, for the most part, Allegri has done just that. Moise Kean has gotten more playing time because of it. Same goes for other squad players who probably wouldn’t even come close to seeing the amount of minutes they would have if Juve was in a close title race like they were a season ago.
At the same time, Allegri has had to work his way through a lengthy injury list. But, with Juve’s lead currently standing at 20 points, the squad is about as healthy as its been in weeks, with Chiellini and Can being the most notable names probably not in contention to play against SPAL due to injury.
And, you know what? That’s fine.
Let everybody who is probably going to start get some rest this weekend. There’s something much, much more important to play for on Tuesday night.
2) Moise Kean’s hot streak.
First, as a refresher, Moise Kean’s numbers for club and country since the start of March
- Games played: 8
- Goals scored: 7
That’s good. That’s really, really good.
It doesn’t take a club insider to figure out that one of the biggest reasons why this game is at least somewhat of interest — besides the whole clinching the Scudetto — is that Kean is going to (probably) get a start with all the squad rotation happening. Juventus has a much, much more important game three days after Saturday’s game against SPAL, and that means Kean should absolutely be one of the many players that will get a start after being on the bench for the first leg in Amsterdam.
That means we get to watch more of Kean.
And that’s something that I have come to very much enjoy over the last six weeks or so. I’m certainly not the only one who thinks that, too.
We wanted to make some Moise in the second half of this season, and we’ve been able to do just that the last two months. On Saturday, that should be the case once more.
3) Please, I beg you, nobody get hurt.
I doesn’t matter who’s starting against SPAL, the request is a simple one.
We can talk formations, we can talk starting lineups and all that. But, with another season-defining game three days from Saturday, seeing anybody else get injured would just be sad.
Very, very sad.
I’ve had enough with all of the injuries lately.
Let us rest a bit.
When: Saturday, April 13, 2019
Where: Stadio Paolo Mazza, Ferrara, Italy
Official kickoff time: 3 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 2 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 9 a.m. Eastern Time; 6 a.m. Pacific Time
HOW TO WATCH
Television: TLN (Canada); Sky Calcio 1, Sky Supercalcio HD, Sky Sport Serie A (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.