I take you back a little over a month. Juventus, fresh off an emotional comeback against Atlético Madrid in the Champions League, returned to its regularly scheduled Serie A programming a couple of days later. That next game, against Genoa, turned out to be a total piece of crap, with Juventus’ effort pretty much a total swing and a miss in a much-deserved losing effort.
A month later, Juve is again coming off an emotional Champions League result. This time, the emotion isn’t that of extreme happiness and general satisfaction. Nah, think about happiness — and then go to the direct opposite of that. The emotion surrounding Juve’s Champions League elimination at the hands of Ajax earlier this week is that of disappointment, rage and probably everything in between.
Competing on multiple fronts is now a thing of the past for the 2018-19 season.
That means it’s back to Serie A.
And that means it’s Juventus’ second chance to try and clinch their eighth straight Scudetto.
As opposed to going on the road to a pretty cool small-town stadium to play against a relegation battler, Juventus is home again to try and wrap up the Scudetto. In comes a Fiorentina side that has been dealing with its own share of on- and off-field drama over the past couple of weeks — none of which having to do with Champions League football or anything close to it really. They’ve brought in a new (old) manager since the last time the two sides played one another in Firenze, a 3-0 smoking of the purple people eaters thanks to goals from Rodrigo Bentancur, Giorgio Chiellini and Cristiano Ronaldo.
But when Juventus take the Allianz Stadium field Saturday evening, they won’t be led out of the tunnel by Chiellini, who is still out injured after suffering a muscle injury in training two weeks ago.
Nor will they be led out of the tunnel by vice-captain Mario Mandzukic, who Max Allegri admitted might be out for the rest of the season thanks to a knee injury he’s been dealing with for weeks now.
Nor will they be led out of the tunnel by vice-captain Paulo Dybala, who will miss the next three weeks, according to Allegri, after he suffered his own muscle injury in the first half of Tuesday night’s loss to Ajax.
Nor ... OK, I’ll just stop there.
Kinda like their form as a whole team right now, Juventus are basically the walking wounded as they sit all of one positive result from wrapping up a historic Scudetto win. I don’t really think there’s any other way to describe it. As many injuries as there have been, as many lackluster performances as there’s been the last couple of months, the moment of history Juventus are about to make is arriving with far less fanfare than it might have if Juve were storming toward the title rather than just kinda cruising into mathematically ending the title race.
Whether it’s this weekend, next weekend or some time after that, Juventus’ eighth straight Scudetto, one that will see the club set more and more history, has been a formality for weeks — and maybe months — now. Juve’s lead has been in the high-teens for a long enough amount of time now where the Scudetto race hasn’t really been much of a worry at all. This time last season was when Juve were finally able to establish a lead over Napoli; this season has been the exact opposite where stressing over whether the Scudetto streak would continue has been completely non-existent.
You know, the kind of swing of emotions like what we felt after the comeback win against Atlético Madrid and then following Tuesday night’s loss to Ajax.
One good, one not good AT ALL no matter what some might say.
Maybe Juventus clinching the Scudetto this weekend can cheer us up a little bit. Maybe.
IS THIS SCUDETTO WEEKEND?!
- Giorgio Chiellini — injured.
- Mario Mandzukic — injured.
- Paulo Dybala — injured.
- Sami Khedira — injured.
- Mattia Perin — injured
- Douglas Costa — injured.
- Martin Caceres — injured.
- Danny Penza — broken inside.
OK, so maybe the last one isn’t as important as the first seven, but Juventus’ injury list is back to being really, really long just a week or two after it looked like the whole situation might be improving a little bit.
THREE ONE KEY(S)
1) Can Juventus finish the Scudetto race this weekend?
Talking about squad rotation is out.
Talking about decisions as to who starts over who is pretty much out because of all the injuries that are currently present.
The main thing hanging over this club right now — and don’t try to shove transfer rumors down my throat because I’m not ready to deal with what the summer MAY bring just yet — is if they can end the title race this weekend once and for all.
Just as was the case last weekend in Ferrara, all Juventus needs is one point and the Scudetto for the 2018-19 season will be theirs. That will be the same end result as the previous seven seasons, which is obviously one hell of a streak no matter how you try to spin it and no matter how disappointed you are with how the Champions League quarterfinals went.
Now, unlike the game in Ferrara (which was predictably stupid), Juventus won’t be rolling out a lineup that’s nearly half-full of primavera or Under-23 squad players by the time the final whistle sounds. There are injuries, but there are still plenty of players who are considered regular starters for much of this season.
But, of course, just like the loss to Genoa immediately after the second leg against Atlético Madrid, there’s the Champions League hangover factor. In that case, it was pretty easy to see early in the first half that Juventus really had no interest in facing Genoa and were pretty much mentally and physically zapped even before kickoff. This time around, we don’t know what kind of Juventus we will see or how much urgency there will be to get this Scudetto clinched.
Allegri says that there’s the possibility of a special weekend.
And, no matter what you’ve thought of Allegri’s words lately, that is certainly true.
It just is largely dependent on how interested Juventus are in facing Fiorentina rather than having their thoughts and overall state of mind still hanging back earlier in the week.
When: Saturday, April 20, 2019
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy
Official kickoff time: 6 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 5 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 12 p.m. Eastern Time; 9 a.m. Pacific Time
HOW TO WATCH
Television: RAI Italia America (United States); TLN, RAI Italia America (Canada); Premier Sports 1 (United Kingdom)
Online/mobile: ESPN+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); DAZN (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.