Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi, Verona
Chievo, hailing from the city of Romeo and Juliet, had long been the subject of ridicule for their illustrious neighbour Hellas. Ironically, the tiny club got promoted when Hellas got relegated from Serie A. Over the years, Chievo has proved surprisingly resilient for a club of their resources, managing to stay up in Serie A as more storied teams got relegated. Currently they sit in mid-table, with 20 points from 16 matches. The highlight of their campaign has been a 2-1 win over Internazionale.
Juventus ended their Europa League campaign with a draw, predictably. After drawing the last match, Juventus became the first team in UEFA Cup/Europa League history to draw all their group matches. The exit from Europa League might prove beneficial, as the Old Lady will be able to focus on Serie A fully.
Juventus gaffer Luigi Delneri will have fond memories of Chievo. It was in Verona that he came into limelight in 2001. Under Delneri, the “Chievo Miracle” was performed, as his newly promoted team led Serie A till winter break, eventually qualifying for UEFA Cup.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Chievo’s main game plan has revolved around one player – Sergio Pellisier. Pellisier, a cult hero in Verona, has been playing for Chievo since 2000. Over the years, he has turned into the main superstar in a team that doesn’t boast of many big names. Averaging one goal in every 3 games, he has proved himself as a pretty useful goal-scorer in Italy. Even this season, he has already notched up 5 goals, as has his strike partner Moscardelli.
Pellissier (right) scored a spectacular hattrick against Juve in 2008/09 season
Mussi Volanti is most likely to try out a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Pellisier partnering Moscardelli up top. The defensive pairing of Cesar and Andreolli started out pretty well, as Chievo conceded 11 goals in first 13 matches. However, their defensive tightness has been lost in last three matches, letting in 7 goals. Coach Stefano Pioli would be hoping for a less generous defensive performance against the most prolific side in Serie A.
The best chance of Gialloblu will be to take advantage of a depleted Juventus midfield. Swiss Gelson Fernandez became a national hero after scoring against Spain in world cup. He would need to turn into a hero for his club in the centre of the park, if Chievo are to gain anything for this encounter.
Chievo (4-3-1-2): Sorrentino; Frey, Andreolli, Cesar, Mantovani; Fernandez, Guana, Marcolini; Contant; Pellissier, Moscardelli
Last weekend’s 2-1 win over Lazio reminded Juventus fans of the gritty wins of pre-2006 era. The Juventus teams of old were renowned for their grit and ability to grind out results in face of adversity. When Milos Krasic scored on the 93rd minute, euphoric celebrations broke among Juve fans across the world. That win catapulted Juve above Lazio in 2nd spot behind Milan.
Gigi Delneri will have his share of selection head-aches for this match. Juve’s main strength this year has been the Krasic-Melo-Aquilani-Marchiso midfield. Felipe Melo is suspended for this match, while Marchisio is not match fit. It can get worse, as Aquilani is reported to have picked up a slight muscle strain in training. Momo Sissoko will take Melo’s place while Simone Pepe will fill up for Marchisio on left wing. If Aquilani doesn’t start, greenhorn Manuel Giandonato will start as a regista. Milos Krasic looked very tired against Manchester City. He didn’t have a pre-season break; he was brought in during mid-season in Russian League. His non-stop running seems to have finally taken a toll on him.
Juve will be once again banking on the solid defensive pairing of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci to keep a check on Pellissier. Young full-back Frederik Sorensen has been a revelation in last 2 months. Against Lazio he completely neutralized an in-form Mauro Zarate. The young Danish defender showed maturity beyond his age or experience.
Vincenzo Iaquinta has scored in three out of last four matches against Chievo. Delneri would be hoping that the trend remains unbroken.
Juventus (4-4-2): Storari; Sorensen, Bonucci, Chiellini, Grosso; Krasic, Sissoko, Aquilani, Pepe; Quagliarella, Iaquinta
Juventus and Lazio faced each other in the opening game of Serie A last season. New signing Diego setup Vincenzo Iaquinta, as Juve won 1-0. In the return leg, Chievo took advantage of a crisis hit Juventus, winning 1-0. Three Juve defenders got injured in that encounter.
In 2008/09 season, the first leg in Turin ended in a nail biting 3-3 draw. Sergio Pellissier was the hero, scoring a breath taking hat-trick. He scored his 3rd goal deep into injury time, sealing a brilliant away draw for the flying donkeys. There were no surprises in Vernoa, as Juve won 2-0 with Del Piero scoring a trademark free-kick.
Krasic has made a huge impact in six months
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Milos Krasic (Juventus): Krasic is living upto his ‘new Nedved” moniker with every passing game. His celebration after scoring against Lazio was reminiscent of Pavel Nedved’s celebrations after scoring against Real Madrid in 2002/03 Champions’ League semi-final match in Turin. Krasic didn’t have the best of games, but still looked dangerous in patches. He desperately needs a breather, and will be looking to go into the winter break with a good performance.
Chievo 0-2 Juventus