05.02.2011, 19:45 GMT kick-off
Cagliari welcome a disjointed Juventus side to the Sant’Elia. The hosts, under Roberto Donadoni, have excelled this year; the Sardinians have lost just a single game out of their last five. They sit one spot behind Juventus, and although they do stand in contention for a Europa League spot, the club will be happy with a top half finish. The Isolani are coming off an important victory in midweek against Sampdoria without former star striker Alessandro Matri, who arrived in Turin on deadline day. Life after Matri couldn’t have gone off to a better start, and Cagliari will be determined to get one over their former star striker. A win at the Sant’Elia for the Sardinians would see them level on points with Juve and possibly pushing for a Europa League position.
The Bianconeri have been in free-fall this year, and their form has been disappointing, having won just a single game this calendar year in Serie A. Juve dropped down two places in 8th position in the league table, 5 points adrift of a Champions League position. With hopes of a cup this season all but diminished, a Champions League spot is of utmost importance for the Old Lady. Right now though, they don’t even occupy a Europa League spot. The Bianconeri are coming off an infuriating 2-1 loss against Palermo, which saw clear-cut decisions go against them including a stone-wall penalty. To their credit, they did display a lot of fighting spirit after going down by two goals. Juve are in a crisis right now, with Coach Del Neri certainly facing the heat after receiving criticism about his tactics and his stubbornness to adopt a different formation; fingers have been pointed at Del Neri, with people calling his tactics all too familiar. His substitutions have been mind boggling as well. A win at the Sant’Elia would be just what the doctor ordered for this wounded Juve side.
Tactical News and Team Brief
Donadoni should employ a 4-3-1-2 formation. He has an almost full squad to chose from, with Laner being the only player unavailable due to injury. In the midweek game against Sampdoria, he started with a lone striker in Acquafresca. However, the former Azzurri manager is expected to lineup Nene alongside Acquafresca in attack. The Brazilian has a return of 4 goals this season and is expected to take up the mantle from Matri.
The defensive line will continue to be the same back four that Donadoni has utilized since his appointment, which includes Pisano, Canini, Astori, Agostini. In the midfield, Nainggolan has been Cagliari’s star man this season, having been in exceptional form; the Belgian midfielder scored a stunning winner in the match against Sampdoria. Andrea Cossu should take up his role as the trequartista, behind the strikers; the diminutive playmaker has made an excellent 10 assists this season for Cagliari, and will be expected to provide the ammunition for the striking pair.
Possible Lineup (4-3-1-2): Agazzi; Pisano, Canini, Astori, Agostini; Conti, Nainggolan, Lazzari; Cossu; Nene, Acquafresca
Form Guide: WWLWW
Del Neri is under immense pressure from the fans, some of whom have called for his sacking due to recent results. The former Sampdoria tactician should retain his 4-4-2 formation. In defence, rumors are doing the rounds that Chiellini could start at left back, after Barzagli’s steady debut against Palermo. Leo Bonucci makes his return to starting lineup after a one match suspension, due the red card he picked up against Udinese. Salihamidzic too could deputise at right back after Grygera’s less than impressive showings.
The midfield should ideally consist of Krasic, Aquilani, Melo and Marchisio. Krasic and Aquilani have been poor this year. The duo were the main protagonists in Juve’s title surge towards the end of last year. Felipe Melo has continued his usual dominating self in midfield since his return from suspension, while Marchisio has been Juve’s best player in the last two games; Il Principino scored fantastic goals against Udinese and Palermo. Alessandro Del Piero will partner Matri in attack. Matri, on his debut against the Sicilians, showed good movement up front and found himself in good positions; however, he did miss a few good chances. Luca Toni returns to the squad after almost a month out with an injury.
Juve will be without Rinaudo, De Ceglie, Traore, Motta, Quagliarella, Pepe and Iaquinta, all of whom are injured.
Possible Lineup (4-4-2): Buffon; Grygera, Bonucci, Chiellini, Grosso; Krasic, Aquilani, Melo, Marchisio; Del Piero, Matri
Form Guide: LLDWL
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Alessandro Matri (Juventus)
Can the new signing impress ? Image courtesy Juventus.com
Last weekend, Matri was a Cagliari player, and now he finds himself facing his former team-mates. Matri showed promise in the game against Palermo and will be determined to prove his worth against Cagliari. He could be the solution to Juve’s striking issues, and might get off the mark for his new side with a goal against his old side.
Cagliari 1-1 Juventus
Both teams forms are contrasting. The Bianconeri did show glimpses of grinta against Palermo, which were encouraging signs for Del Neri. They will however, find it hard against an in-form Cagliari. A draw would be a likely outcome although a home victory would surprise few.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST