San Nicola, Bari
29.08.2010, 9.25 PM IST
Last year, Italy’s most successful club endured one of its worst seasons in history. Heads rolled in succession, as a sea change was made in administration. Coach Luigi Delneri and transfer director Giuseppe Marotta were roped in from Sampdoria.
Throughout the summer, Juventus has been busy in the transfer market. A clutch of new players have been bought. A few of the ineffective players have been shipped off. The team has been built to fit Delneri’s rigid 4-4-2 system.
The Old Lady has got the required results so far, albeit unspectacularly. Back to back victories against minnows Shamrock Rovers and Strum Gruz have ensured a safe passage to Europa League group stages.
Juventus are expected to play a conventional 4-4-2 with pacy wingers. With Gianluigi Buffon injured, Marco Storari is expected to start in goal. The defensive line will be made up of predominantly young players. Highly rated wing-back Marco Motta joined from Roma on loan, and will start as the right-back. Giorgio Chiellini will be the ever-present rock of Gibraltar in the left side of central defence. His partner, Leonardo Bonucci enjoyed a stupendous streak of form last season at Bari. The partnership of these two is expected to plug the defensive line, which was very leaky last season. The left-back position still remains a weakness, and academy player (and Ashton Kutcher lookalike) Paolo De Ceglie still has to improve his defensive skills.
Watch out for Lanzafame !
The main source of attack will be from the wings. Milos Krasic might not start in this game. In that case, Simon Pepe or Jorge Martinez will plays as right-winger. Academy player Davide Lanzafame impressed at Parma last season, and will perform the left wing duties. Claudio Marchisio, who has been in Juventus since the mid-1990s, will look to recapture his sparkling form of last season. His partner in the central midfield will be either of the mediani – Felipe Melo or Momo Sissoko.
Trezeguet is sure to start as the prima-punta for Bianconeri, with Alessandro del Piero or Martinez acting as supporting striker.
Bari’s form was a sharp contrast to Juve’s last season. The newly promoted club started off the season with the news of a failed takeover by an American businessman. The Baresi were hopeful of a much needed cash injection, but were heartbroken in the end. Instead, they witnessed the rise of three unlikely heroes. Andrea Rannochia, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Massiello formed a refreshingly young, yet stingy defence. Bari started off the campaign by holding off Internazionale to a creditable draw. Almost till the half-way mark, Bari boasted of the best defensive record in Serie A, quite a shock for those who predicted a swift return for the club to Serie B. But Rannochia’s season ending injury weakened them, and they spiraled downwards. A tenth place finish was still respectable.
They have now lost both Bonucci and Rannochia; Maisello and his new partner Marco Rossi are both good defenders, but probably not in the same league as last year’s pairing. One of Bari’s biggest strengths is their custodian. Jean-Francois Gillet is unarguably “Mr Bari” – the Belgian has been an integral part of the club since 2000. Despite offers from bigger clubs, he has never left a place that he truly loves. Last season, despite a shower of 532 shots at him (highest in Serie A), he conceded only 43 goals and kept 11 clean sheets (3rd best in the league).
Bari will be playing a similar 4-4-2 with pacy wingers. Sergio Almiron finally fulfilled his early promise last season. He permanently moved from Juventus to Bari this season, and was the main creator last season. Another crucial player for Bari will be the fleet-footed winger Edgar Alvarez, who is easily one of the fastest players in the peninsula.
Upfront, their main source of goals will be Paolo Baretto, who bagged an impressive 14 goals tally last season. Partnering him will be new acquisition Algerian Abdelkader Ghezzal; the ex-Siena striker could well thrive in a club with modest ambitions.
This is unlikely to be a brilliant match, with both teams still struggling for perfect chemistry. San Nicola, one of Italy’s biggest stadia, has a truly wonderful atmosphere and the home team usually plays well here. The Old Lady would like to exact a revenge for the 3-1 loss in the same fixture last year.
Probable Starting Line-up
Juventus: Storari; Motta,Bonucci,Chiellini,Lanzafame; Pepe-Marchisio-Melo-Lanzafame; Trezeguet, Del Piero
Bari: Gillet; Raggi Rossi A Masiello S. Masiello; Alvarez,Donatti, Almiron,Pulzetti; Ghezzal, Barreto
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Davide Lanzafame (Juventus)
Lanzafame is a Juventus Academy graduate; he enjoyed a wonderful spell in Bari in Serie B. After an indifferent spell, he found his feet again in Parma last season. Playing as a pacy left winger he has been impressive for the Old Lady so far.
Bari 1-2 Juventus