On Sunday night, Juventus and Fiorentina will renew their eternal rivalry when they lock horns at a sold-out Allianz Stadium.

For the Viola faithful who despise the Old Lady with a passion, this will always be one of the most-anticipated fixtures of the season. Moreover, a reunion with their “treacherous” idols Federico Chiesa and Dusan Vlahovic adds an interesting sub-plot and an extra motive to a fanbase yarning for a positive result at the den of their most hated foes.

On the other hand, Juventus fans – especially outside of Italy – tend to belittle the significance of the fixture, reducing it to a mostly routine encounter, albeit with a special flavor. After all, the Florentines haven’t truly presented themselves as contenders for the Italian throne over the last decades like Inter, Milan, Napoli or even the Roman duo.

Yet, the importance of Sunday’s clash shouldn’t escape the Bianconeri fans, and the identity of the opponents has little to do with it.

While some matches can be turning points in a season, it is the ones that follow that truly leave a lasting impact. For instance, Juve’s mid-season crisis can be traced all the way back to the draw against Empoli, while others would argue that the marquee moment ensued a week later, particularly in the Derby d’Italia defeat against Inter.

Perhaps both cases are valid, but we would argue that the ensuing defeat to Udinese was the most devastating of all. This was the moment that truly confirmed the club’s entry into the seemingly never-ending dark tunnel. In following weeks, the team kept spilling points left and right, only recording a single win in nine Serie A fixtures; a last-gasp home victory against a club embroiled in the relegation dogfight.

Therefore, Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Lazio in the Coppa Italia was certainly a refreshing sight, but we can’t truly consider it a sigh of relief. For all we know, the encouraging second-half display against the Biancocelesti could wind up being a flash of the pan, a false dawn inspired by Max Allegri’s genius “Run towards the goal” half-time advice.

Nevertheless, the good result wasn’t the only positive sign the Bianconeri showcased in midweek. Between Vlahovic tracking back to support his teammates, Weston McKennie fighting for every ball and overall the good vibes between the players (at least when the results are going their way), there were plenty of encouraging takeaways from the first leg against Lazio.

Therefore, this small ember will either light up the way out of the dark tunnel or swiftly vanish. So to say that tonight’s encounter against Fiorentina is vital would be a major understatement.

This clash will either spark a return to the right path just in time to ward off the danger of slipping outside the Champions League zone, or on the contrary, extend the club’s Serie A woes, leaving the club’s European hopes in great jeopardy.

So regardless of whether we support or detest Allegri and his methods, we should all be hoping for the right result this evening as the final stretch of the season could be decisive, not just for UCL qualification, but perhaps the club’s general status among the elite in the years to come.