“Lame Duck” refers to figure in American politics who towards the end of his or her tenure of holding an office. The term is commonly used for those in Executive positions who have lost reelection, decided not to seek another term, or, due to term limits simply cannot, yet remain in office for a statutorily proscribed period of time until the new term begins and a replacement can assume the office. The 22nd Amendment thus technically renders Barack Obama a Lame Duck, despite the President having won reelection less than a half-year ago.
The description is synonymous with various conflicting sentiments from activity (for example a lame duck Legislature held by a party that recently lost the latest rounds of elections, and is trying to pass as much legislation as possible before having to relinquish power) to indifference (a lame duck Governor who is at the end of his second and final term who is more concerned about preparing for the next corporate chairmanship than grasping onto the rigors of the State Capital).
What does this have to do with Juventus, you ask? Having clinched Serie A weeks ago for all intents and purposes, the team made it officially official last Sunday with four games remaining. With a second successive championship clinched, European Qualification sewn up for what seems like an eternity, and a summer market set to begin, it’s very easy for fans to have that same Lame Duck feeling that some of even the most ardent Democrats might feel around this time in 2015. One must thus wonder if, after consecutive drab 1-0 victories (albeit the second one by the “B” team), whether the squad feels like Lame Ducks themselves.
Perhaps, but probably not with a coach like Antonio Conte, who has the opportunity to break the team record for most points ever in a Serie A season. With that, Juventus will allow Serie A’s favorite vagrants Cagliari to shack up in Turin for a night, hosting the Sardinians at the Juventus Stadium tomorrow evening.
The tactics have been virtually static all season long, and thus nothing looks to change during this Lame Duck session of calcio. Conte will undoubtedly field the standard 3-5-2, however only a matter of personnel is left to be determined. With that reports are mixed as to whom will be given a start, and where. At this point, squad rotation would be nothing short of useful both in terms of providing a well-needed rest to players who performed so admirably on three fronts over the long and grueling season, and allowing some of the players on the cusp a chance to get some sorely needed playing time. With that, I would hope to see the likes of Isla, Giovinco, Peluso (at LWB, please God, not at CB), and Marrone, although reports are mixed. Sky Sport had reported earlier that Giovinco is expected to start along with Marrone, who would be in the center of the back-three. However, other sources see Marrone back in Midfield, undoubtedly because Pirlo and Pogba are both suspended.
Then there’s the issue that, despite the “Lame Duck” status, there is still a bit more left to play for. If Juventus want to beat Fabio Capello’s record of 91 points from 2006, they need to win both their remaining games. Plus, the Serie A award ceremony is scheduled for tomorrow, so Conte may want to give his first-teamers the opportunity to be on the pitch for it.
Cagliari are firmly entrenched at the middle of the table with 43 points, currently in 12th place, and have literally nothing left to play for. Talk about Lame Ducks.
Considering the entire context surrounding this game, I do not expect Juventus to take the game too lightly. Last weekend’s winning of the Scudetto reopened the old wound about whether the tally stands at 31 or 29. Considering the current 91 points record was earned during that fateful 2005-06 season, withi Fabio Capello of all people at the helm, the fans will certainly want to see that number breached. Add to that the fact many of the players will be motivated to try and prove that they deserve first-team consideration and, well, perhaps we’ll see a campaign worthy of one with reelection right around the corner.