Stadio Olimpico Di Torio, Turin
20.03.2011, 14:00 GMT kick-off
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for everyone associated with Juventus. The team is winless in the past four games, and have just scored a meagre two goals in the past month. Those two goals came in last weekend’s game against Cesena courtesy of an Alessandro Matri brace. The Bianconeri seemed to be in cruise control and did not look like a team with problems against the Seahorses, until they completely self destructed. Gigi Buffon was lucky to stay on the pitch, while Marco Motta was rightfully sent off for a completely foolish tackle, which contributed even further to their downfall. Cesena deserved the draw and had it not been for Buffon’s heroics in goal, they might have piled on more misery for Juve.
The team has simply not recovered from their disastrous start this year. Gigi Del Neri looks almost certain to lose his job in the summer, as fans have now come out and criticised the former Sampdoria tactician. With a Champions League spot looking out of reach, many consider his sacking just a formality that will take place sooner or later. Presently though, Juventus might even find a Europa League spot hard to come by, as they sit in seventh position in the league table, five points behind AS Roma who occupy the last European slot.
Brescia, on the other hand, haven’t impressed this season on their return to Serie A. The Rondinelle are currently on a run of dour draws. For their part though, they have shown a lot of spirit in the past few games. Against Inter they could have pulled off an incredible upset, while they defended well against Serie A’s inform team currently, Udinese. What will probably give Juve fans hope is that Brescia haven’t won a single game since the 2-0 home win against fellow relegation strugglers Bari. Brescia sit in 19th place in the table, three points away from safety.
The Biancoazzurri have been woeful away from home this season, having notched up just a single win on their travels along with four draws and nine defeats. Juventus have won six games, drawn three and lost five games in Turin.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Heading into this crucial game, Del Neri will almost certainly employ the Del Piero-Matri partnership, which functioned brilliantly last weekend. Il Pinturicchio turned back the years with an inspirational display, as he combined wonderfully with Matri for Juve’s first goal, and played a key role in the second one as well. In defence, as mentioned above, Marco Motta faces a one game suspension; Zdenek Grygera should get the nod to replace him at right back. Giorgio Chiellini will continue in the heart of Juve’s defence, partnered by Leo Bonucci. Armand Traore will add pace to the side in his left back slot.
The midfield quartet looks likely to remain the same as the one that featured at the Manuzzi. Milos Krasic has been terribly out of form and has blown hot and cold over the past few weeks, but nevertheless he will continue to provide width down the right flank. Claudio Marchisio and Alberto Aquilani will continue their partnership in the centre of midfield. Felipe Melo faces a race against time to get back to full fitness ahead of the game. Vincenzo Iaquinta has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to a thigh injury sustained in training; he has probably played his last game in the Bianconeri jersey. Paolo De Ceglie could make his much awaited return to the Juve set-up, and could feature on the bench.
Fabio Quagliarella, Rinaudo, Sissoko and Grosso are long term absentees for the Old Lady.
Possible Lineup (4-4-2): Buffon; Grygera, Bonucci, Chiellini, Traore; Krasic, Marchisio, Aquilani, Pepe; Del Piero, Matri
Form Guide: DLLLW
Coach Beppe Iachini will be fully aware of the fact that he will be facing a wounded Juventus side which cannot affoard anymore slip ups. Brescia suffered a huge blow, as top scorer Andrea Caracciolo will miss this game through suspension. The former Palermo man has netted eight goals this season and could have definitely made a nuisance of himself to this shaky Juve backline. Iachini will, in all likelihood, field a 3-5-2 formation to flood the midfield area. His team will probably look to hit Juventus on the counter and shut down the midfield area, leaving no breathing space for Aquilani and Marchisio.
Alessandro Diamanti will be Brescia’s main attacking threat and creative outlet. The former West Ham striker, who leads the assists charts for the Rodinelle, scored a well taken goal in the reverse fixture to give his side a vital point at home. The onus will once again be on him to cause problems to the Juve defence. He will lead the attack along with Brazilian striker Eder.
Former Juve players Cristiano Zanetti and Davide Lanzafame should start this game from the bench, while another ex-Bianconero Jonathan Zebina is suspended for this game alongwuth Hetemaj. Dallamano, Berardi, Filippini and Bega are out with injuries.
Possible Lineup (3-5-2): Arcari; Zoboli, Mareco, Acardi; Zambelli, Kone, Cordova, Vass, Daprela; Diamanti, Eder
Form Guide: DDDDL
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Alessandro Matri (Juventus)
Since his arrival in Vinovo, Matri has won over the Juve fans with his impressive displays. The former Milan youth product has a return of five goals in six games and has displayed impressive finishing ability in front of goal. Against Cesena, he bagged yet another brace this season, and will look to combine well against with Del Piero in attack. Juventus will once again rely on Matri’s strikers’ instinct to gain a positive outcome from this tie.
Juventus 2-1 Brescia
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST
Follow TheHardTackle on Twitter
Follow Chelston D’souza on Twitter