Stadio Artemio Franchi
September 18, 2011; 13:00 GMT
Juventus make the trip to newly-promoted Siena in a bid to make it two wins out of two in the league. Serie A kicked-off in grand fashion last week after an incredible 35 goals were scored in the top tier of Italian Football. Juventus decimated a hapless Parma side 4-1 to mark the baptism of their new stadium in a positive manner. In what was an almost perfect night that was only marred due to a late Sebastian Giovinco penalty and the consequent sending off of Paolo De Ceglie, manager Antonio Conte won a lot of praise for his side’s commanding display. Juve are now league leaders in the Serie A table and have emerged as one of the favorites for the Scudetto already, which maybe a bit hasty given that only a single game has been played in what is a long season.
Conte will make his return on Sunday to his old side Siena, who he guided to promotion to Serie A last season. At Siena, Conte boasted of an impressive home record last season – scoring the most goals and amassing the most points in Serie B. One of Juve’s primary problems from last season’s failure was their inability to take away the points from the less-fancied outfits. While the team did do well against the powerhouses in the peninsula, the Bianconeri did disappoint against the smaller teams thus resulting in the Robin Hood syndrome. Conte will want to change this trend and has the opportunity to do so immediately against his former side.
Team News and Tactical Brief
After Antonio Conte vacated the job at Siena, Giuseppe Sannino was appointed as manager. On their return to the top flight, Siena played out a hard-fought goalless draw against Catania. Siena made a few good signings in the transfer market. The most exciting one for their fans will be that of Gaetano D’Agostino. The midfielder, who was chased by Juve not so long ago does have the quality to trouble any team with his range of passing and shooting ability from midfield. They’ve also purchased former Sampdoria winger Danielle Mannini, who can provide natural width down the right for Siena.
Sannino will in all likelihood deploy his favored 4-4-2 formation. On loan goal-keeper Zeljko Brkic from Palermo will take his place in between the sticks. The defense will be marshaled by Luca Rossettini and Claudio Terzio. The fullbacks – Del Grosso and Vittielo will face uphill tasks in containing the threat of the Juve wingers, which form a lot of emphasis of their play.
In Emanuele Calaio, they have an experienced striker with decent enough skill on the ball. Calaio will be biggest threat to the Juve defence. Calaio drew comparisons with Sannino and Conte due to the similarities in the offensive nature of their formations. Calaio will spearhead the attack alongside Argentine striker Pablo Gonzalez. Franco Brienza will offer the width down Siena’s left flank but he’ll have to deal with Stephan Lichtsteiner’s marauding forward runs and might be called on defensively throughout the match. Influential midfielder Reginaldo, who was an integral part of their success from last season is still on the treatment table and will miss the game.
Probable Starting Line-Up (4-4-2): Brkic; Vitiello, Rossettini, Terzi, Del Grosso; Mannini, Gazzi, D’Agostino, Brienza; Calaio, Gonzalez
Conte’s elastic 4-2-4/4-4-2 formation was the subject of a huge amount of scrutiny in the summer. Questions were raised over Andrea Pirlo’s ability to adapt to the formation but against Parma the formation worked like a charm. Conte’s tactics were evident; the Bianconeri were playing a high tempo, high-pressing game. Marchisio in particular was outstanding covering every blade of grass and allowing Pirlo space on the ball for him to weave his magic. It can be argued though that Parma’s standard 4-4-2 formation played right into the hands of Juventus. The two man midfield didn’t pressurize Pirlo and offered way too much time on the ball, which is something one cannot do to a player of his talent without going unpunished.
Against Siena, not many changes are expected if reports are to be believed. Vincenzo Iaquinta is still nursing an injury and will miss the game along with Paolo De Ceglie who is serving his one-game suspension for the red card against Parma. Fabio Grosso is expected to take De Ceglie’s place at left back, if Conte’s words are anything to go by though he has the option of shifting Giorgio Chiellini at left back and bring in Leonardo Bonucci to partner Andrea Barzagli, a tactic that was employed by former manager Del Neri. Arturo Vidal, due to his versatility, forms another option for the manager at left back.
The centre of midfield is expected to remain as it was against Parma with Marchisio and Pirlo patrolling the middle of the park. Emanuele Giaccherini had an average game against Parma, failing to make a significant impact and Milos Krasic could be given the nod ahead of him thus shifting Simone Pepe to the left. Mirko Vucinic is fit enough to start and could replace one of Del Piero or Matri in attack.
Probable Starting Line-Up (4-2-4): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Barzagli, Chiellini, Grosso; Pirlo, Marchisio; Krasic, Matri, Vucinic, Pepe
- Juventus recorded the highest ball possession in Serie A last weekend with 65.9 %.
- Juventus have lost just one previous meeting away at Siena that came in May 2008.
- The last meeting between these two sides ended up in a 3-3 draw at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Claudio Marchisio (Juventus)
The former Juve primavera player was one of his side’s top performers against Parma. Marchisio covered a lot of ground and won back possession many times. He capped off a wonderful performance with another memorable goal. After playing a couple of seasons out of position, Marchisio proved just what he can do in his preferred position and seems to have the backing of Conte. Against Siena, if Juve are to come away with three points, Marchisio will play an instrumental role.
Siena 0-2 Juventus
History is leaning towards a Juventus victory and Antonio Conte will want to rectify one of last season’s errors with a win against his old side. Siena’s formation and the quality of La Vecchia Signora might make the game a bit easy for Juve but Siena certainly will put up a fight. Expect the Turin giants to make it two wins out of two.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST