It took a couple of hours on the Saturday before Christmas for Juventus’ uphill trek to try and get back to the Serie A mountain top to go from a slight incline to one that resembles the kind of hike you see at Yosemite National Park if it gets any worse than where it’s at now.
There have been a lot of factors as to why Juventus sits 10 points off the Serie A lead as we quickly approach the official midway point of the 2020-21 season. And knowing that 2021 is here — and now the resumption of play — that doesn’t mean there’s going to be some magic solution. Or any kind of solution that will show up any time soon.
All we know is this: Juventus has the kind of schedule in January that offers little rest at most that we just saw during this hectic and essentially never-ended December when more than a couple days of rest seemed like a blessing from the Pope.
But the difference between December 2020 and January 2021 is quite noticeable to anybody who has been paying attention to this Juventus season of late: Andrea Pirlo’s squad is very much the ones now doing the chasing rather than the team being chased. They will enter the first weekend of 2021 in sixth place, with the loss against Fiorentina and Napoli’s appeal being successful being quite the 1-2 punch to the gut to end 2020.
Because of it, Juventus trails league leaders AC Milan by 10 points. They trail Serie A’s second-place team, Inter Milan, by nine points. They are closer to 10th place than they are first place — which isn’t exactly something we’re used to around these parts over the course of the last decade or so.
And after Udinese visits Allianz Stadium on Sunday night for the first game of the new year, the two Milan sides will also be lining up against Juventus over the next two days. There’s no denying that Juventus need to win Sunday to put the visions and everything that has come with it regarding their faceplant against Fiorentina before Christmas, but it’s the point in schedule — as well as the position in the table — where Andrea Pirlo’s team needs to do something, anything, to show us they are deserving of being contenders for the Scudetto.