JUVENTUS
v
PALERMO

Stadio Olimpico Di Torio, Turin
24.09.2010, 00:15 IST

Juventus fans had a reason smile after months of frustration, as the Old Lady finally earned a much needed victory in Serie A. A crushing 4-0 win away against Udinese will act as a major confidence booster. This was Juve’s first win in Serie A since March; more incredibly, this was the first away clean sheet since October. Overall, the Udinese game was a wonderful outing. The defense was solid for a change, Marchisio and Melo both continued their strong forms, and Krasic was brilliant one more time. Quagliarella scored in two back to back games, while Iaquinta got his first goal of the season, which will give him a psychological fillip.

Palermo’s season hasn’t begun on the right note. They are winless in three Serie A games. One of their losses came against newly promoted Brescia. Last weekend, they lost their unbeaten home record of last season, slumping to two Samuel Eto’o goals. Fiery president Maurizio Zamparini accused Inter being the “New Juventus”. Their defense looks very weak after departure of Simon Kjaer, while Edinson Cavani’s mercurial abilities have been missed upfront. Their Europa League campaign has been patchy too. Given Zamparini’s trigger happy nature, pressure is mounting on the gaffer Delio Rossi.

Feb. 06, 2010 - Palermo, Italy - epa02019705 Midfielder Stefano Morrone (L) of FC Parma and Argentinian midfielder of US Palermo Javier Mathias Pastore struggle for the ball during their Italian Serie A soccer match, US Palermo vs FC Parma, in the Renzo Barbera stadium in Palermo, Italy on 06 February 2010.

Pastore, a crucial piece of the Rosanero puzzle

Luigi Delneri will have the luxury of having a fit Juventus strike force. Both Iaquinta and Amauri are available. Quagliarella has shown some decent form in last few games, and will start alongside Iaquinta. Del Piero has played two and a half games in the last ten days, and might sit this one out. Claudio Marchisio and Felipe Melo are likely to act as defensive shields in the midfield. Milos Krasic will start on right wing, with Simon Pepe marshaling the left.

In the Udinese game, Delneri somewhat solved his team’s weakness in the flanks. He pushed Pepe back as a left wing-back, and deployed Grygera as a left back, which is not his usual position and curtailed his forward runs. Grygera and Pepe didn’t contribute a lot to attack, but they did hold the force admirably. The right wing is still suspect, with Motta frequently being caught out of position.

Delio Rossi had success with his 4-3-3 last season. Palermo has looked good in the final third, but their defense has let them down so far. Against Inter, they had 16 attempts on goal but failed to earn a point.

Mattia Cassani, one of the best right-backs in Serie A last season, has failed to recapture that form this season. Ezequiel Munoz, 19, was shipped in from Boca Juniors in the transfer window. The youngster has so far failed to impress in the heart of the defense; his partnership with Cesar Bovo needs to be stronger. The indifferent form of the central defense has exposed Salvator Sirigu to a lot of pressure. Sirigu himself has not been in the best of forms as well.

Delio Rossi’s preferred trident has contained Abel Hernandez and Javier Pastore. The Young Hernandez is talented but inconsistent. Fabrizio Miccoli scored a stunning goal against his old club last season. He is back from injury for this game, and his nervy relationship with his former club will pump him up for this one. Argentine sensation Javier Pastore was one of the main reasons behind Palermo’s performance last season, and this year he has been moved up as a support striker. He has scored a scorcher against Brescia, but doesn’t look fully comfortable in his new role.

Football Fans Know Better

Palermo has been a tough nut to crack for Juventus over the years. Zamparini’s comments are sure to add more fuel to the fire. Similar circumstances were there during the first Palermo – Juventus game last season. Palermo were languishing in bottom half and coach Walter Zenga had been sacked. A 2-0 home win over Juventus started their resurgence, and they would be looking to keep the same tradition alive. Palermo won this fixture in each of the last 2 seasons. The last time Juventus beat Palermo at home was way back in 25th November, 2007, where Del Piero bagged a brace as Juve romped to a 5-0 win.

Last season, neither Juventus nor Luigi Delneri’s Sampdoria managed to beat the Rosanero. The Stadio Olimpico in Turin is bracing for a cracking game.

Possible Starting XI

Juventus: Storari; Motta, Bonucci, Chiellini, Grygera; Krasic, Melo, Marchisio, Pepe; Quagliarella, Iaquinta

Palermo: Sirigu; Cassani, Bovo, Munoz, Balzaretti; Nocerino, Bacinovic, Migliaccio; Pastore, Hernandez, Miccoli

Past 5 games

2009-10 – Juventus 0-2 Palermo, Palermo 2-0 Juventus

2008-09 – Juventus 1-2 Palermo, Palermo 0-2 Juventus

2007-08 – Palermo 3-2 Juventus

THT Prediction Juventus 2-1 Palermo

June 13, 2010 - Pretoria, South Africa - epa02199815 Serbia's Milos Krasic (C) is challenged by Ghana's Andre Ayew (L) and Kevin Prince Boateng (R) during the FIFA World Cup 2010 group D preliminary round match between Serbia and Ghana at the Loftus Versfeld stadium, Pretoria, South Africa, 13 June 2010. Ghana won 1-0.

Krasic is fast turning into an irreplaceable Juve player…

Player to watch out for

Milos Krasic (Juventus): Krasic has well and truly burst onto the Serie A scene. The 25 year old Serbian winger has four assists in the last two games. He adds the much needed pace and creativity to the Bianconeri. He is not a conventional winger who sticks to the touchline, but frequently cuts in. With his dodgy runs, he created panic in Udinese defence. The indifferent form of Palermo full-backs will have him licking his lips in anticipation of this encounter.