Congrats, folks. You’re almost done with the Juventus portion of your 2020 calendar year.
Almost. Not quite there just yet. But almost. Ninety minutes of “almost.”
This has been a year unlike any other — both for the good and the bad, although one of those probably outweighs the other with some room to spare. We’ve seen Juventus have good moments and plenty of bad, and that’s the easiest way to put things. So much has happened during these past 12 months even though we saw Italy lock down for the better part of 3 1⁄2 months and games come at us for an extended period of time like we’re not used to at all.
But now, despite all the trash that 2020 has thrown at us, it’s almost over.
Juventus’ final 90 (or so) minutes of football in 2020 is just about upon them. And it just so happens to come against a team that is most definitely viewed as a rival, although the hatred being thrown about is most definitely coming more from the southern part of Italy as compared to the north. But no matter how you feel about Juventus’ next opponent, Andrea Pirlo and Co. welcome a struggling Fiorentina side that has already changed managers once this season and isn’t doing all that much better after the coaching switch.
Ever since the middle of October, this is very much the same kind of league opposition that Juventus has faced this season.
With the heavy hitters like AC Milan and Inter Milan awaiting their shot at Juve come the new year, so much of the domestic competition Pirlo has faced during his first few months as manager have been games like the one that will be played at Allianz Stadium on Tuesday night. Fiorentina, in basically an extension from what went wrong after the restart, have failed to turn their struggles around even though Cesare Prandelli and his puffy jackets and vests are back on the sidelines in Florence.
What we know about Juventus is that things appear to be slowly but mostly surely things are improving. The 4-0 dismantling of Parma over the weekend — and, like we’ve said in most of our post-match coverage, it could have been more — was arguably the best we’ve seen from Pirlo’s Juventus this season. It was what we wanted to see for weeks now, and what we have been getting in small doses over that same period of time. It was about as Pirloball as Pirloball gets and what we thought it could be like when things are flying high.
Now we get to see if they replicate it one final time in 2020 against a team very much like the team they just got a convincing win over.
So, to recap:
- Juventus is on short rest because this schedule is crazy. (Can you imagine how somebody like Matthijs de Ligt is going to feel after this game is over knowing that he’s played virtually every minute in all 10 games of this late-November/December run.)
- Juventus’ opponents, Fiorentina, are having a tough go of thing and enter the final matchday of 2020 sitting in 16th place.
- Fiorentina, like a lot of Juve’s opposition over the last two months, is going to sit back and defend and probably try like hell to soak up as much pressure as possible. (But, like Fiorentina has struggled with lately, that sounds good in theory but the execution is still very much lacking.)
With the way that Fiorentina has struggled under Beppe Iachini and now Prandelli, Juventus has the chance to finish out 2020 with about as good of form as we’ve seen from them this season. That meant not be some huge statement based on how the season started, but the fact that things are trending in the right direction is a pretty good way to potentially head into 2021.
- No Giorgio Chiellini due to injury.
- While Pirlo said he’s “feeling better,” there’s still a little bit of uncertainty as to whether Merih Demiral will be available for the final game of 2020.
- No Arthur due to injury, with Pirlo saying that the Brazilian midfielder “still feels pain after the knock he picked up against Atalanta.” This will be the second straight game that Arthur has missed after not traveling to Parma over the weekend.
- Paulo Dybala is back training with the group and could be available for selection, according to Pirlo on Monday. The usual Cristiano Ronaldo-Alvaro Morata pairing is expected to start up top once again, though.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
Seeing as Juventus is playing La Viola, this seems like the chance to potentially reserve this space for one of the two Federicos that were acquired from Fiorentina over the last couple of summers. The thing is, though, neither of them are total locks to play. So, as much as we could talk about Juan Cuadrado in this space, it only seems natural to talk about the one Fede that was playing for Fiorentina just a couple of months ago.
Yeah, this Fede ...
(No, this picture choice is not a troll job just to get our friends at Viola Nation all upset because it’s a close-up of Chiesa in bianconero. Although, if you want to think it’s that way, then let’s just go with it.)
With Juan Cuadrado getting most of the night off over the weekend against Parma, I think it’s safe to say another one of the former Fiorentina wingers on Juventus’ roster will be starting at right wingback Tuesday night. That means Chiesa’s only chance to play will be on the left wing — which has become a place he’s seen most of his playing time since he moved from Fiorentina a couple of months ago.
Chiesa isn’t the pick here because he’s in some kind of impressive form or struggling to get himself out of a rut. He’s been mostly good, sometimes meh, other times not all that great. He’s a new player still adapting to a new team and, as we know, a new position. His last start was pretty good with one hell of a goal scored. (I think we can all get used to seeing Chiesa cutting in from the left wing and hitting those kinds of shots with his right foot.)
He’s the pick because of the easy storyline: This is going to be the first time that Chiesa, the pride of Fiorentina’s youth academy, will be facing his former team. This will be an emotional day for Chiesa. It will be an interesting day for Chiesa as well. Think about it this way: Chiesa is still less than three months into his Juventus career and, remember, played a couple of games with Fiorentina before he moved to Turin.
There will be plenty of friends lining up against him on Tuesday night, but for the first time in his career he will be trying to beat Fiorentina. That alone will be quite an interesting time.
When: Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy
Official kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time; 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time
HOW TO WATCH
Television: TLN (Canada); Premier Sports 1 (United Kingdom); Sky Sport Serie A (Italy)
Online/mobile: ESPN+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); Premier Player HD (United Kingdom); Sky GO Italia, NOW TV (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.