UPDATE: According to Sky Sport Italia, the decision as to whether to award Juventus a forfeit will be taken on Tuesday.
The same Sky news feed also quoted a lawyer for Napoli, Mattia Grassani, who insisted that the Naples ASL communicated with them three times between four and six in the evening on Saturday, and that the documentation they can provide will be enough to avoid a forfeit. Grassani also insisted, unsurprisingly, that if they were assigned a forfeit that they would appeal.
The Juventus team bus rolled through the gates and into its usual spot at Allianz Stadium. Juve players, with masks on all around, walked down the tunnel as they usually do, although with it bereft of fans due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It all looked like what has become the norm over the course of the last few months following the restart in Italy.
It looked like a game was going to take place.
Except, as we all came to expect, a game never took place.
Juventus’ opposition, Napoli, never showed up at Allianz Stadium on Sunday night. The formalities took place after Juve showed, with a 45-minute wait after the scheduled start time coming and going without any kind of sign of the visitors from southern Italy. Not that it’s a surprise based on what went down the previous 24 hours. Following a second player testing positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, Napoli’s intention was to never travel north to Turin, nor was it ever a possibility based on the their decision to stay in Naples and keep their players in isolation to prevent any kind of further spread of the virus. And that’s something that was only reinforced by the local health authorities, which did not permit Napoli to leave the region and head north.
Despite that, Juve were quick to declare their intentions to go through with the game Saturday night. Earlier in the day Sunday, Lega Serie A confirmed that the Juve-Napoli game would go forward as scheduled even though there was little to no chance of Napoli showing up. As we know, Napoli was never allowed to leave to begin with.
Because of all this, Juventus will soon be awarded a 3-0 win via forfeit.
At least we got a starting lineup out of it ...
L'XI scelto da Mister @Pirlo_official per #JuveNapoli pic.twitter.com/xm9SM10kH5— JuventusFC (@juventusfc) October 4, 2020
Were you excited to see Paulo Dybala get his first start of the season? Were you looking forward to the official debut of the Rodrigo Bentancur-Arthur midfield after its brief cameo last weekend in Rome? What about Dejan Kulusevski being listed as a wingback once again?
Or, hey, how do you feel about a starting lineup being listed for a game that was never going to happen? Feels a little strange. But as one of our loyal Twitter followers pointed out, at least Juve’s got an advantage at every position against Napoli this time around.
No matter how you feel about that starting lineup, it was never actually going to take the field in any kind of capacity other than for show Sunday night. That’s pretty much what all of this was, to go through the motions, do what was needed after Lega Serie A said that the game would be held at its regularly scheduled time rather than postponed as many feel should have happened. Juventus forced the hand of the league, and the powers that be made the kind of call that will have more people disagreeing with them and spouting more conspiracy theories rather than siding with the cautious option and postponing the match.
Napoli will surely take this to the courts. It will be only a matter of time until they file their appeal and start the legal proceedings. This seems like just the start rather than the end now that we’ve officially seen Juventus show up at the stadium and there be no opponent lining up across from them.
Who knew this weekend could be as interesting as it has been even though Juventus will have never actually played a game. This year, man. I don’t know what else to say about 2020 other than it’s very, very tiresome — and that’s probably an understatement.