Serie A Three home games in seven days
Starting on Tuesday, Juventus have a run of three home games in the space of week which could prove make-or-break in terms of their season and beyond.
The Old Lady host Spezia in Serie A on Tuesday, then Lazio on Saturday before Porto come to town for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie next Tuesday.
So far, this season hasn’t quite gone according to plan for new head coach Andrea Pirlo, with Juve currently sitting in third place in Serie A, 10 points behind leaders Inter. They are also six points behind AC Milan and only three ahead of seventh-placed Lazio.
With only one win in their last three Serie A matches, alarm bells are starting to ring that not only are the Bianconeri a long way adrift in the title race but that they are caught up in what promises to be a hard-fought battle for the Champions League places, of which there are four.
After winning a record nine league titles in a row, anything other than clinching the Scudetto will be a disappointment for Juventus, but missing out on the Champions League would be failure on a different level.
Roma, Napoli and Lazio currently sit outside the Champions League berths, but with so little in it they will be aiming to finish in the top four just as much as Juventus and Atalanta. That makes Lazio’s visit to Turin on Saturday all the more important and the points at stake all the more valuable.
More pressing, perhaps, is this season’s Champions League as falling at the round of 16 at the hands of Porto would be a massive disappointment for Cristiano Ronaldo and co. The Portuguese side lead 2-1 from the first leg, with the tie still very much in the balance.
Should Juventus fall at this stage, coupled with the very real prospect that their domestic hegemony is over, it would mark the end of an era.
It would also be the first year since Cristiano swapped Madrid for Turin that Juve have failed to win the league title and it would mean that in three years he has failed to help them get beyond the quarter-final stage of the Champions League.
The Portuguese forward has a contract until June 2022, but at 36 and after three years without major inroads into Europe’s premier club competition, you have to wonder if the player and club might begin to look to the future sooner than that.
Pirlo‘s future may be in the balance as well, especially if Juve were to slip out of the Champions League spots come the end of the season. Next summer could end up being a period of big decisions at the Allianz Stadium.