In case you haven’t noticed lately, but the Serie A table from second place to where Juventus currently sits has been rather chaotic. And, some of the time, that has not exactly been something that these clubs probably want to boast about considering the form that they find themselves in.
But, because of all the craziness and dropped points going in front of them, Juve has another chance to get even close to the top four than they already are as we steam toward Easter Sunday and the second week of April.
Yes, even with a 15-point penalty that could very well be overturned in full in a couple of weeks.
While Juventus manager Max Allegri will be watching on television because he’s at home sick with the flu, the Bianconeri head to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome for the second time within the span of five weeks, This time, though, Juve will face the sky blue side of Rome, with old buddy Maurizio Sarri and second-place Lazio one of those teams that is in front of the Bianconeri in the standings. Each team has very significant stakes attached to Saturday night’s game — remember, there are no games on Sunday because of Easter — and that is why both Juve and Lazio will be looking advantage of the fact that Serie A’s third- and fourth-place teams both dropped points with draws on Friday night.
Juventus, even with that points penalty that still has a mid-April appeal hearing date, could very well move within in four points — FOUR POINTS! — with a win over Lazio. And when you consider that is the current situation even with the deduction of 15 points that could very well be coming back, it’s absolutely wild to think about. (While also showing you just how inconsistent those teams from third to sixth have been over the course of the last few months since everybody came back from the World Cup break.) That was once again on display Friday night with Inter dropping points against Salernitana right before Milan did the same against Empoli.
Now, it is up to Juventus or Lazio to be one of the teams to take advantage of it.
Over the last few years, Juventus has held the edge over Lazio no matter if it is Simone Inzaghi or Sarri in the opposite coaching box. Sarri has yet to beat his former side, losing three of his former matchups against Juventus as Lazio manager. Juve’s beaten Lazio twice already this season, claiming the final league fixture before the international break with an emphatic 3-0 win and then advancing to the Coppa Italia semifinals with a 1-0 win in Turin.
But now the scene shifts to the Stadio Olimpico to face Sarri and his surging Lazio side that has not lost a league fixture in nearly two months.
Compared to both meetings earlier this season, there is going to be one very different aspect when it comes to Lazio on Saturday night: Ciro Immobile, who missed out due to injury in November and early February. While he hasn’t scored in his last four games in all competitions, the 33-year-old Italian he brings the threat at the head of the attack that Lazio clearly didn’t have the first two times they lined up against Juventus.
(Now, you could argue stuff about Immobile in big games for both club and country and that would very much be fair and valid, but that’s another matter entirely.)
For Juventus, closing the gap even closer to the top four during what has been a completely unpredictable 2023 calendar would be another win for Allegri’s argument that his team deserves to be amongst the best in the league. (I mean, without the 15-point penalty, they would be alone in second place after all — which is something Allegri told us plenty of times in the first handful of weeks after the points penalty.)
A win Saturday and Juve wouldn’t just be keeping things one-sided when facing the last guy to win the Scudetto in Turin.
- It will be Landucci Time for Juventus after the club announced Friday that Allegri has not made the trip to Rome due to the flu.
- Paul Pogba is still out injured, but has been training with the squad ever since Wednesday, with a potential return to the field looking possible over the course of the next week or so.
- The same can’t be said for Leonardo Bonucci, who also returned to training with the squad the day after the Coppa Italia semifinal against Inter. Bonucci has been called up to face Lazio, but is not expected to start Saturday night.
- Surprise, surprise: Mattia De Sciglio has not been called up due to muscle fatigue.
- Moise Kean is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
- Danilo and Alex Sandro are both one yellow card away from suspension.
- Samuel Iling-Junior and Enzo Barrenechea were not called up after dropping down to the Next Gen squad on Thursday and helping them pick up a valuable 1-0 win over Sangiuliano. (A certain Kenan Yildiz just so happened to have made his Next Gen debut in the win, by the way.)
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
The unfortunate thing about Bremer landing here again is that it comes within the same kind of context as the previous instances. Annnnnnnd it’s not for anything all that good.
Bremer was here in this little section after his horror show against Napoli in which he played a leading role in the 5-1 dismantling by the current Serie A leaders. And he finds himself here again because of his last-minute mistake that gift-wrapped Inter a stoppage-time penalty kick that Romelu Lukaku successfully converted before all hell broke loose Tuesday night.
So here we are again with Bremer, who on the whole is having a pretty good season, I’d say.
The worry, of course, is that these mistakes are part of the deal with the big Brazilian center back who is very much at the heart of Juve’s defense going forward into the future. That’s something we won’t know for sure until we get into the future and Bremer has more than a season with Juventus under his belt.
The positive, at least in the past, is that these game-changing kinds of mistakes that he’s made haven’t exactly lingered so far this season. By that I mean it’s not like Bremer went into a weeks-long rut because he didn’t play well against Napoli and suddenly left Juventus’ defense hanging because of a run of poor form.
Hopefully that is the case once again because the handball against Inter is something that could very well leave some dudes messed up if they don’t have a short-term memory and leave it where it is. So far, Bremer has been up to the task when it comes to dispatching of his big mistakes. Let’s see if the latest one falls in the same category as the previous ones.
When: Saturday, April 8, 2023.
Where: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy and around 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: CBS Sports Network (United States); TLN (Canada); BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); fuboTV Canada (Canada); BTSport.com, BT Sport App (United Kingdom); DAZN, 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.