.

JUVENTUS

v

CATANIA

Stadio Olimpico Di Torio, Turin
April 23, 2011

***

Juventus’s faint hopes of qualifying for the Champions League suffered a crippling blow last weekend in Florence. The Bianconeri failed to break the deadlock against Fiorentina in an encounter that lacked thrill. Catania is not in the relegation zone but they aren’t completely safe, either. With Lecce and Parma putting in some strong performances in last few weeks, Catania cannot afford to drop points.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Juventus

Delneri’s team failed to extend their winning run beyond three matches as they were held to a 0-0 draw at the Artemio Franchi. Last weekend’s draw accentuated Juve’s flaws in the attacking department. Other than Milos Krasic and Aquilani, Juventus do not have any creative players in midfield. Worryingly, both of these two players have not been in form in the last two months and this has adversely affected the team. Before Del Piero took to the field, Juventus had struggled to create anything worthwhile in the final third. Simon Pepe and Marchisio failed to provide any creative spark, thereby isolating Alessandro Matri.

football formations

Del Piero is fit to start alongside Matri for this match. There is a good chance that Delneri will go back to his 4-4-2 formation to accommodate Juve’s all time top scorer. Felipe Melo has been consistently brilliant this season. At Florence, he was subjected to racist chants from some sections of the Fiorentina supporters. Despite that, Melo kept his cool and put in another commanding performance. Melo’s passing has also significantly improved this season but he can never be as creative as an in-form Aquilani.

Juve will be bolstered by the return of Giorgio Chiellini in the centre of defense. Young Danish defender Frederik Sorensen impressed after coming on in the second half against Fiorentina. He continues to be ignored for the right-back position despite Marco Motta’s indifferent performances.

Juventus are currently placed seventh in the table – one point behind sixth placed Roma (and the last Europa League spot). The team from Turin do have a comfortable lead on eighth-placed Palermo but need to regain their European slot. With Roma hosting Chievo on Saturday, Juventus cannot afford to drop more points.

Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): Buffon; Motta, Bonucci, Chiellini, Grosso; Krasic, Melo, Aquilani, Marchisio; Del Piero, Matri

Catania

Catania’s recent performances have been very unpredictable. They started April with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Palermo in the Sicilian derby.They followed it up with a 1-1 draw against bottom placed Bari. Last weekend, they slumped to an embarrassing 4-1 loss at home to Lazio. Defensive frailty has been one of Catania’s biggest worries this season. They have conceded 45 goals in Serie A – one of the worst defensive records.

Catania is most likely to play a 4-2-3-1 formation with Andujar starting in goal. Former Lazio playmaker Ledesma will provide the creative spark to deliver to Maxi Lopez, who will be playing as a lone striker.

Maxi, top scorer for Catania

Former Cesena winger Ezequiel Schelotto caused Juventus considerable problems when Cesena met them in first half of the season. He might make his way to Catania bench and can come on as an impact sub. Morimoto was one of the standout performers for Catania against Juventus in the first leg. The Japanese lacks consistency but his talent is unquestionable. He is another player who can sit in the dugout.

Catania is currently placed 14th in table – four points ahead of 18th placed Sampdoria.

Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Andujar; Alvarez, Silvestre, Spolli, Capuano; Carboni, Ledesma; Izco, Richiuti, Gomez; Lopez

TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR

Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus)

Juve’s all time top-scorer made his return from an injury last week. The evergreen #10 instantly made an impact creating Juve’s best scoring chance in that match. Despite his age Alex remains one of the most creative and talented players in a very workman like squad. This week some reports were circulating in the media about contract wrangles with the club. In past Del Piero has often rose to the occasion when his club needed him the most, expect another similar performance in this game.

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Juventus 2-1 Catania

Juventus is expected to get all three points against Catania at home. This will also be coach Gigi Delneri’ 300th career victory.

TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq-w3riadk8