In normal kinds of seasons, the final three games of the season and a comfortable distance between second place and fifth place would not have you crunching numbers and scoreboard watching like it’s a Scudetto race down to the final matchday.
For Juventus, there is a complete feeling of uncertainty.
And it could very well become even more of an interesting day even before kickoff at the Stadio Carlo Castellani in Empoli if the next chapter of Juve’s off-field drama is written by the FIGC and those who are very much interested in punishing the Bianconeri for their plusvalenza dealings.
Juventus will play the first of its three remaining games of the 2022-23 season when there’s a little bit of Monday night football against Empoli. But what could very well happen earlier in the day is going to be the thing that probably ends up being the ultimate determining factor in whether Juve will be playing in the Champions League next season or not. As I write this sentence out, a feeling of a points penalty being put back into place seems almost inevitable. Hell, maybe it’s fully inevitable if you’re along the line of thinking that the FIGC is hellbent on Juventus finishing outside of the top six.
We don’t know if it will be 12 points, nine points or something completely different entirely. But the odds on a points penalty coming down are far more likely than Juve staying on the 69-point tally they have entering Monday night’s game.
And then, if the final verdict — that, you have to imagine, will be appealed by Juve again just like the first time around — does come down at some point Monday, Juve will have to go out and play a game when their mind is probably somewhere completely different.
So who knows what will happen against Empoli, a team that is just about mathematically safe from even being considered a relegation battler with three games to go. Who knows where the state of mind of Juventus’ players is going to be when they step out onto the field for the first moments of pre-game warmups because of what’s happened off the field.
As Tuttosport says on its front page in Monday morning’s edition: The game isn’t against Empoli on Monday, it is instead in the courts against the FIGC.
That is what Monday is about more than anything. Sure, there are three more points up for grabs in Empoli, but the season is going to take another drastic turn whenever the latest points penalty decision comes down. It may mean no European football next season. It may mean there’s still a small outside shot of European football next season. It doesn’t seem like there’s going to be no penalty at all, so I’m guessing we can rule out that from our minds.
No matter what, though, I feel safe in saying this: The result — good, bad, or indifferent — against Empoli is going to be the secondary news of the day compared to what happens in the courts. That is pretty much the only thing that seems like a 100 percent certainty.
- Paul Pogba is out injured with his latest muscle injury.
- Leonardo Bonucci is out injured with his latest muscle injury.
- Nicolo Fagioli is out injured after undergoing collarbone surgery on Saturday. He will be out for two months, per Juventus’ post-surgery update.
- Mattia De Sciglio is out injured due to knee surgery.
- Enzo Barrenechea is out injured due to a tendon issue.
- Kaio Jorge ... still injured.
- Danilo and Juan Cuadrado are both suspended after picking up yellow cards in last weekend’s win over Cremonese.
- A trio of players from the Juventus Next Gen squad have been called up to provide some depth in the wake of the injuries and suspensions — fullback Tomasso Barbieri, center back Alessandro Riccio and midfielder Alessandro Sersanti.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
In what will likely be a patchwork kind of starting lineup due to injuries, suspensions and potentially other things that we don’t know about just yet, let’s go ahead and chat about somebody who will likely fill one of those spots left by a suspended player.
Ot at least who we expect to be there since Max Allegri is likely to stick with a three-man backline against Empoli. (Yes, we are about to talk about the game itself rather than everything that is going to happen off the field on Monday.)
Of all the players that have been listed in probable lineups, Tomasso Barbieri is one of the few guys that I’m actually interested in seeing play. Allegri is basically going to be forced into squad rotation because of all the players that are going to be missing out. Because of the injury to De Sciglio and the suspension of Cuadrado, there’s only one option on the right wing.
It’s Tomasso Barbieri.
All signs point toward a second career start with Juve’s senior team on Monday night. And for all we know, Barbieri could be auditioning for both Juventus and a club where he might end up on loan next season. As much as his two starts will have come against a pair of Serie A teams in the bottom third of the table, a young player getting his feet wet at this level for the first time can either sink or swim. For Barbieri, his debut against Cremonese a few weeks ago was solid if anything else.
So now it’s time for the 20-year-old Italian to build off what he did in his debut and show us again that he can hang at the top level of Italian football. With so much swirling around Juventus right now, finding an option and natural option at fullback going into next season (and beyond) would be a nice thing to not have to worry about.
When: Monday, May 22, 2023.
Where: Stadio Carlo Castellani, Empoli, 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: 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.