“I never want to see that performance again.”
Those are the words of Andrea Pirlo during his pre-match “press conference” on Saturday. What Pirlo is referring to, of course, is what happened against Fiorentina in the final game before the brief holiday break a couple of weeks ago, the kind of result that put a serious dent in the perception that this will be another season where Juventus finishes atop the Serie A table when it’s all said and done.
That was two weeks ago. Tonight, Juventus faces a new task — actually getting back into the Scudetto race after the 1-2 punch that was the day of Dec. 22, 2020. Because of that result that Pirlo never wants to see again (and Milan’s stoppage-time win over Lazio after also blowing a 2-0 win at home in the same game) and the court’s decision to successfully grant Napoli’s appeal of that forfeit, Juventus is now 10 points behind Milan in the Serie A standings. It’s quite the task ahead of Pirlo’s squad regardless of what kind of form they’re in at the moment.
But their form at the moment is ... yeah, I don’t really know where to go with this.
As I type this out Milan just went up 2-0 on Benevento, which means that Juventus could very well be 13 points down when they take the field tonight against Udinese. That is completely wild to think about and something we haven’t seen happen to Juventus very much at all during the nine years of dominance in Serie A.
And guess who Juve has next up on the schedule after this game!
Juventus can’t afford to drop points again like they’ve done what feels like 100 times already this season. Not with Milan playing as well as they are. Not with Inter staying hot on the heels of their city rivals. If Juve do struggle to get anything other than a win tonight against Udinese, then the talk will be about the Milan sides being able to put Juve away for good this season rather than Juve maybe getting back into the title race.
This is a big game — which isn’t exactly something you would expect when Juventus is playing a mid-table side that has lost half their games this season and won just once in December. Let’s just hope Juve shows up unlike the last time they had a game at Allianz Stadium two weeks ago.
When: Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021
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
Juventus starting XI (4-4-2/3-4-1-2): Szczesny; Danilo, de Ligt, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Chiesa, McKennie, Bentancur, Ramsey; Dybala, Ronaldo
Juventus bench: Buffon, Pinsoglio, Chiellini, Demiral, Di Pardo, Frabotta, Arthur, Bernardeschi, Portanova, Fagioli, Kulusevski, Da Graca
Udinese starting XI (3-5-2): Musso; Bonifazi, De Maio, Samir; Larsen, Pereyra, Walace, De Paul, Zeegelaar; Lasagna, Pussetto
HOW TO WATCH
Television: RAI Italia North America (United States); RAI Italia North America, TLN (Canada); Premier Sports 2 (United Kingdom)
Online/mobile: ESPN+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); Premier Player HD (United Kingdom); Sky Go Italia, DAZN, DAZN1 (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.