Saturday night’s win over Cagliari didn’t mark the first time this season that Juventus moved into first place in Serie A on a provisional basis, but the timing of it made things a little more heightened compared to a few weeks ago. That’s both because Inter still had to play on Sunday night against Matias Soulé and Frosinone but also because of the massive fixture that awaits Juve after the international break.
Well, Juve went into Sunday atop the Serie A table.
They will go into the first Derby d’Italia of the 2023-24 season trying to get back there.
The help from Soulé and Frosinone never arrived despite their best efforts Sunday night, as Inter jumped back over Juventus thanks to their win at the San Siro. That sets up a first place vs. second place meeting at the Allianz Stadium in Turin in a couple of weeks, with a whole international break to craft all the narrative and storylines that will carry us over the next two weeks while we wait for the Sunday, Nov. 26, showdown in Turin.
Just as things were to begin the 12th matchday in Serie A, Juventus will head into the Derby d’Italia two points behind Inter in the standings.
And maybe more importantly when you look at the fact that Max Allegri and Cristiano Giuntoli continue to hammer home the fact that Juventus are solely focused on finishing in the top four and not declaring themselves big-time Scudetto challengers just yet, this is what things look like from second place to fifth place:
- Juventus — 29 points
- AC Milan — 23 points (and winless in their last four league games)
- Napoli — 21 points (and about to fire their manager)
- Atalanta — 20 points (and with two wins in their last six league games)
We sit here as the November international break is about to begin and there’s already a six-point gap between second place and third place. Of course, we’ve seen that before and we need to look no further back than to last season as to how fast things can change no matter if you’re playing in the Champions League, the Europa League or the Conference League. (Plus, you know, there’s still a ton of the 2023-24 season still left to play.)
But after a weekend in which just three teams in the top half of the table got wins — Inter, Juventus and sixth-place Fiorentina — seeing that kind of gap between second and third place already open up, that’s gotta be just as refreshing as the fact that a win over Inter means you’re all alone in first place. No matter what your feelings are about Juventus’ actual chances in that game that’s two weeks from now in Turin, being within striking distance of the top of the table while also being comfortably in second place could be something that exceeded your early expectations.
Or, in another way of looking at things: The Derby d’Italia is always going to be a pretty intense matchup no matter what. But then you throw in first place in Serie A being on the line and the stakes are turned up a couple of notches. Could be worse, I guess.