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Game Time Thread: Juventus vs. Empoli

The first of two visits to Tuscany in less than a week is today. That’s hopefully a good thing.

Juventus v Torino FC - Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

It’s the final weekend of February, a month that has seen us watch Juventus not lose a game but the same time very much frustrate the living hell out of us at the same time,

From a results standpoint, it hasn’t been the kind of month where the alarm bells have sounded and there’s panic because Juve’s losing games right and left. They have dropped points, and that may be looked at as a bad thing considering the circumstances in which Juve’s gone about do so. Performance-wise, it’s been more of the same for Juventus despite the fact that they just brought in one of the best young players that Europe has to offer to lead the attack.

Maybe tonight ends up being different, as Juve kicks off a weeklong stretch flush with fixtures in Tuscany when they face Empoli. Or maybe it just ends up being more of the same that we’ve seen from Juve over the last couple of weeks where one goal is enough for Max Allegri to hunker down and try to pick up all three points. (Hint: it hasn’t always worked.)

But whatever the strategic leanings of Allegri end up being, Juventus very much needs to come away with three points. That’s not only because Atalanta has suddenly hit the skids and Juve can try to build a cushion between themselves and their closest competition for fourth place in the Serie A table. But maybe, just maybe, Juventus wins this game against a clearly struggling Empoli side, cut the deficit between themselves and league leaders AC Milan to seven points and suddenly become the outside shot of Scudetto contention now that the team atop the table is almost within reach.

It’s a lot of maybes — I get it.

But that’s all we can do at this point considering how the last few weeks have been for Juventus. Maybe they score a few goals and coast to a win. Maybe they score one goal and grind out a win. Maybe they don’t win at all. I have no idea what to think anymore when it comes to this team simply because when you think you’re starting to get it figured out, they go off and do something that confuses you even more.

Or maybe that’s just me trying to think that the last five months have been different from one another.

I don’t know. All I know for sure is that there’s a Juve game tonight and hopefully it’s a welcome distraction from everything else going on these days.

MATCH INFO

When: Sunday, Feb. 26, 2022.

Where: Stadio Carlo Castellani, Empoli, Italy.

Official kickoff time: 6 p.m. local time in Italy and around Europe, 5 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 12 p.m. Eastern time, 9 a.m. Pacific time.

STARTING LINEUPS

Juventus starting XI (4-4-2/4-3-3): Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, de Ligt, Pellegrini; Cuadrado, Zakaria, Arthur, Rabiot; Vlahovic, Kean.

Juventus bench: Perin, Pinsoglio, De Sciglio, Locatelli, Miretti, Morata, Aké, Soule.

Empoli starting XI (4-2-3-1): Vicario; Stojanovic, Luperto, Ismajli, Cacace; Zurkowski, Asllani, Bandinelli; Di Francesco, Bajrami; Pinamonti.

HOW TO WATCH

Television: BT Sport 2 (United Kingdom).

Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); BTSport.com, BT Sport app (United Kingdom); 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.