We have reached the point in the Scudetto race where very little outside of what Juventus does actually matters. Scoreboard watching will only serve the purpose of entertaining yourself rather than actually needing to because the result in another part of Italy is directly tied to the Juve result. It’s not a matter of “IF” Juventus will clinch this season’s Scudetto, it’s simply a matter of “WHEN” they will make it officially official.
What happens in other games literally doesn’t matter anymore.
Lazio could win on Thursday night, and it wouldn’t matter at all.
Thanks to a little help from our friends in Florence, Juventus’ trip to Udine could easily become the latest Scudetto day. That is because only one thing needs to happen for Juventus to clinch a ninth consecutive Serie A title: beat Udinese. That’s it. There are no other options by which a Scudetto kind of day will apply. Juventus will win the 2019-20 Serie A title, that is not in question. We could go into a long list of scenarios into what it would take for Juventus to secure yet another league title, but that’s really not necessary.
They just need to do one thing and one thing only.
Maurizio Sarri, a man who is on the brink of winning his first-ever Scudetto as a manager, was rightfully calling for his squad to stay calm ahead of Thursday’s trip to Udine. That is the very pragmatic and right-down-the-middle kind of thing to do even when you pretty much know that it’s only a matter of time before your time wins the league title.
But, at the same time, this is a team that before the win over a shorthanded Lazio side on Monday night that looked like it was limping to the finish line rather than strongly breaking through that distinctive tape. They had dropped seven out of a possible nine points against Milan, Atalanta and Sassuolo, and the overall quality in which they were doing so was more about relying on individual efforts rather than the team as a whole showing progress.
There’s another thing that the Lazio fixture provided: The end of the gauntlet Sarri’s side faced to begin the month of July. Over the course of the next three games before the season finale against Roma in Turin, Juventus will play teams that currently sit in 16th place (Udinese), 14th place (Sampdoria) and 13th place (Cagliari). That’s far and away the level of competition that Juve saw when in-form squads like Milan and Atalanta lined up against them.
So, essentially, the message here is simple: If you’re Juventus, you take care of business on Thursday night and you head back to Turin knowing that you’ve just won the title yet again.
It would be a fitting way to ring in the 3,000th straight day (!!!) that Juventus have been champions of Italy. That does have a nice ring to it.
Or, you know, we can just turn to Claudio Marchisio again to sum things up just like he did in the post-game thread on Monday. Yeah, let’s do that. I’m sure he will do a good job for us — and it’s a new kind of thing seeing as he gave it to us just a few hours ago following the scoreless draw at the San Siro.
Nailed it. (Keep providing us with this kind of content, Cla. We’re all here for it.)
- After picking up a yellow card against Lazio, Leonardo Bonucci will be suspended for the trip to Udine. I have a feeling he will be hanging out with the boys at home and watching some football — which sounds like a pretty decent alternative to playing Thursday night.
- The long-term injury list still consists of Sami Khedira and Mattia De Sciglio, but you probably already knew that.
- Even though he didn’t start against Lazio, Sarri said that Miralem Pjanic is “fine” and that the reason he hasn’t played much late ”only for issues of characteristics.”
- When it comes to Giorgio Chiellini and Gonzalo Higuain, Sarri said that both of them have been working with the team’s doctors — which doesn’t sound all too convincing that either of them will be available to come off the bench on Thursday night.
UPDATE: Neither Chiellini nor Higuain were called up for the trip to Udine.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
No Leo Bonucci. No Giorgio Chiellini. Merih Demiral is almost certainly not ready to play from the start just yet. That means there’s only one option to start alongside Matthijs de Ligt and his thunder thighs.
This is not a selection dilemma for Maurizio Sarri. This is going to be Daniele Rugani playing out of necessity rather than because of the manager’s choice. That’s just what happens when two of your center backs are coming off major knee surgery and another one — the same one that has played more minutes than anybody this season — is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
See what I mean?
In a perfect world, this would be the game where we’d get to see the Matthijs de Ligt — yes, bum shoulder that’s all wrapped up on athletic tape these days and all — and Merih Demiral partnership we’re so desperate to see get a spin out there together for the first time this season. But, as we know, Demiral is still working his way back from his own ACL tear just in the same way that Chiellini is. And as we know with how the process has gone with Chiellini, this is a very fickle deal, and everybody’s body is going to respond differently.
Thus, it’s Rugani time once again, folks.
The good thing, I guess, is that there’s somebody like de Ligt partnering with Rugani rather than Bonucci for the simple fact that the young Dutchman is somebody who we know is going to command the defense because that’s what he does pretty much every time out there. Matthijs de Ligt leads just as I like to sit around on weekends and do nothing. It’s only natural, and for that we are thankful.
There are other players you could pick here — Cristiano Ronaldo is on a goal-scoring tear, Paulo Dybala is playing some of his best ball both this season and the last couple of years — but when it comes to Juventus actually doing well at the back, de Ligt can’t do it all by himself no matter how good he’s been ever since 2020 arrived. (Seriously, de Ligt really is one of the few good things to happen in 2020, and for that we should also be thankful.) And that is why Rugani playing a solid if not unspectacular complimentary role to de Ligt will mean Juve is going to be that much closer to clinching another Serie A title.
So, basically, happy Rugani Day.
And hopefully happy Sucdetto Day.
When: Thursday, July 23, 2020
Where: Stadio Friuli, Udine, Italy
Official kickoff time: 7:30 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 6:30 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time; 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time
HOW TO WATCH
Television: RAI Italia North America (United States); RAI Italia North America, TLN (Canada); Premier Sports 1 (United Kingdom); Sky Sports Serie A (Italy)
Online/mobile: ESPN+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); Premier Player HD (United Kingdom); 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.