Stadio Olimpico Di Torio, Turin
At the start of Serie A season, very few would have predicted Lecce’s and Juventus’s league positions at the time of this match. Both teams have identical records – won two, lost two and drawn two; Juve are ahead on the basis of goal-difference. Lecce, Serie B champions in 2009-10, has so far made a good account of themselves.
Coach Luigi De Canio did a pretty good job last season, leading the Salentini back into top flight. Their first match in Serie A was a disaster, losing 4-0 to a brilliant Milan side. They have recovered well after that match. Their 1-0 win over Fiorentina was the shock of Round-2. Another 1-0 win over Catania saw them climb into top-10. They played a brilliant match against Palermo; they rushed to a 0-2 lead in one of the most daunting stadia in Italy, but defensive errors let Palermo come back to the game, with Maccarone scoring in the 90th minute to earn a point for the home team.
Lecce usually plays a 4-3-3 system which focuses on attack. Veteran Ruben Oliviera, a former Juventus player, plays as the centre-forward. He is flanked by Daniele Corvia and Neves Jeda. Corvia has found the net twice till now, scoring the winner in the last game against Catania. Alternatively Corvia might start as the CF instead of Olivera, with David Di Michele playing as the support striker. They are most likely to field a 5-man defense for this away match.
Defense has been a major area of concern for Lecce, having conceded 9 goals in 6 matches. The defense was given an education by Ronaldinho and Co. in the first game. Lecce defenders didn’t know what had hit them; they were completely out of depth. They have to be disciplined if the Salnetini want to avoid another similar drubbing.
Juventus was probably the team which benefited the most when Italy’s match against Serbia was called off. The club from Turin had crucial players in both teams, players who could use some rest. Bonucci, Chiellini and Krasic got a well deserved break after a grueling set of fixtures. Other than Buffon, Juve don’t have any serious injury problems. Players who were often injured in recent times – Amauri, Iquinta, Aquilani – are all fit.
Luigi Delneri looks to have finally found a solution to Juve’s defensive woes. In the last two matches, Juve played against two of the most explosive attacking line-ups in Europe – Manchester City and Internazionale. The defence did pretty well in both games, letting in just a single goal. Zdenek Grygera has been surprisingly assuring in the left-back position. Right-back still remains a weak point, as Marco Motta hasn’t been consistent.
The biggest silver lining for the Old Lady has been the midfield. Milos Krasic is fast turning into an irreplaceable player in Turin. His work-rate, pace and ability to find out gaps has proved to be invaluable. One of the Juve’s most consistent midfielders this season was one of the worst last year – Felipe Melo. Melo is looking more and more like the DM for which Juve played 25 million Euros. He has broken up opponents play with ease and looks calmer when passing to fellow players. Last season, one of Melo’s worst features was how he produced miss-passes in dangerous positions. This time, he has gotten over that frustrating tendency.
Claudio Marchisio has been impressive in most of the games so far. He has scored two goals, while putting in consistent performances in the middle of the park. Aquilani hasn’t gotten much play-time, but has shown his class in whatever little time he played.
The form of Felipe Melo and Marchisio has given Delneri a problem. Aquilani is a better passer of the ball that both of these players; however, he doesn’t provide the defensive cover that Marchisio and Melo provide. Delneri needs to find the correct balance between attack and defence.
The form of strikers is another worrying aspect for the Bianconeri. Amauri had a pretty good pre-season and started out well in Europa League, but hasn’t carried the same form to Serie A. With more focus on wing-play, he has gotten a fair number of chances, but has failed to capitalize. Iaquinta may have a poor first touch, but possesses terrific work-rate; he constantly hassles the opponent defenders and is capable of scoring an occasionally good goal. However, he is very selfish and doesn’t possess the best finish in the game. Fabio Quagliarella has scored a couple of goals till now; he isn’t prolific either.
The Bianconeri still depend on golden oldie Alessandro Del Piero to provide a moment of magic. Del Piero has obliged so far, scoring a couple of stunning goals in the Europa League. Unfortunately, at 36 years of age, he no longer has the fitness to play two matches in a week. Relying on Pinturicchio for goals is bound to hurt Juve in the long run.
Last 5 matches
|7/12/2008||Lecce vs Juventus||1-2|
|3/5/2009||Juventus vs Lecce||2-2|
|23/10/2005||Lecce vs Juventus||0-3|
|26/2/2006||Juventus vs Lecce||3-1|
|14/11/2004||Lecce vs Juventus||0-1|
Possible Starting XI
Juventus (4-4-2): Storari; Motta, Bonucci, Chiellini, Grygera; Krasic, Melo, Aquilani, Marchisio; Del Piero, Iaquinta
Lecce (5-3-2): Rosati; Gustavo, Djamel Mesbah, Medina Fabiano, Giacomazzi, Rispoli; Olivera, Piatti, Grossmuller; Jeda, Corvia
Still going strong….
TheHackleTackle’s Player to watch out for
Alessandro Del Piero
After two weeks of well deserved rest, Juve’s all time leading scorer would be fit and raring to go. Voices from Turin suggest that this might be the last season in “Ale”s brilliant career. Age hasn’t slowed him down, and he is still capable of scoring breath-taking goals. He would want to make sure that he goes out with a memorable season.
Juventus 2-0 Lecce