Angelo Massimino, Sicily
October 28th, 11:30 GMT kick-off
Serie A leaders Juventus make the trip to Sicily to face a Catania side recovering from a defeat to Inter. The champions of Italy, Juventus showcased their strength in depth with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Napoli at home and now are sole leader of Italy’s top-flight. Substitutes Paul Pogba and Martin Caceres were called upon from the bench and they duly obliged their manager’s wishes with a goal each allowing Juventusi to separate themselves from Napoli and position themselves as lone leaders of the league.
Catania succumbed to a 2-0 defeat away at Inter. It was a gripping game but in the end, Inter proved to be too much to handle for this Sicilian outfit. Goals from Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio were sufficient on the night to overcome the Elefentani. Their miserable run on the road continues having grabbed just one point out of a possible 12 points.
Team News and Tactical Brief
For all their troubles on the road, Catania have managed to stitch a formidable run in front of their home crowd. The Elefentani have been nothing short of exceptional on home turf claiming the scalps of Parma, Atalanta and Genoa while also holding Napoli to a goal-less stalemate at the Angelo Massimino. They occupy an excellent 7th position in the league table.
Rolando Maran has done well in the eyes of Catania’s supporters since taking over from Vincenzo Montella. It was never going to be an easy task following in the foot-steps of Montella, who vacated his job at Catania to head towards Fiorentina in the summer. He is expected to field a 4-3-3 formation. He does have a few injury concerns that bother him with Keko, Terraciano, Bellusci, Augustyn and Sciaccia sidelined for this match.
The center of the defence will have a familiar face for Juventus as veteran defender Nicola Legrottaglie will marshal the Catania defence alongside Nicolas Spolli. Alvarez and Marchese will be employed as full-backs and should go head-to-head with Asamoah and Lichtsteiner respectively which by no means will be an easy task for the duo.
Midfield remains a strong point for Catania. Francesco Lodi has been identified as one of the best registas in the peninsula. He is Catania’s Andrea Pirlo and does possess traits similar to the Juventus midfielder. Lodi is a dead ball specialist who sets the tone of the game for his side with a dangerous left-foot and will certainly be watched closely by the Juventus midfield.
Attack should see the trident of Barrientos, Bergessio and Gomez. Bergessio and Gomez are tricky customers to deal with on the flanks and could make nuisances of themselves on Sunday. Gomez, in particular has been linked to various Serie A clubs and has plenty of tricks in his arsenal to cause head-aches to the Juventus back-line.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Andujar(GK); Alvarez, Legrottaglie, Spolli, Marchese; Izco, Lodi, Almiron; Barrientos, Bergessio, Gomez
With the Champions League now on Juventus’ plate, the league leaders have passed their Serie A tests but yet struggle to make an impression in Europe. The draw against Nordsjaelland was their third draw in Europe’s premier competition and their 9th on the trot in Europe. The lack of cutting edge in front of goal was evident as Juventus failed to put away any of the chances they conjured up.
Three players who were rested during the midweek game are expected to regain their place in the starting eleven. Andrea Barzagli, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah will make their return to the line-up. For the first time this season, manager Antonio Conte could have the full squad at his disposal provided Simone Pepe proves his fitness. He is expected to deploy his regular 3-5-2 formation. Juventus Juventus
French prodigy Paul Pogba too maybe handed a rare start for the Bianconeri ahead of Arturo Vidal. The Chilean is going through a tough phase and is struggling to replicate the kind of form that inspired Juventus last season. Pogba, has raised a few eyebrows with his performances in midfield and has certainly warranted this opportunity. Juventus fans have been pleasantly surprised by Pogba who made the transition from England to Italy without much trouble. Indeed if he keeps on progressing and developing the way he has been, Juventus would possess potentially one of the strongest midfielders in Europe. Andrea Pirlo will pull the strings from the heart of the midfield and look to set the tempo of the game.
Up front Sebastian Giovinco will retain his spot and should be partnered by Mirko Vucinic. The Montenegrin will replace the misfiring Alessandro Matri who will once again be relegated to a role from the bench. Giovinco will use his trickery and unpredictability to try and carve open the Catania defence but could also be asked to pressurize Francesco Lodi.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Buffon(GK); Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Giovinco, Vucinic
Player To Watch Out For
Mirko Vucinic (Juventus)
The Montenegrin International has proven to be Juventus’ most dangerous player more often than not this season. He does possess the annoying ability to drift in and out of games yet his talent his undeniable. A favorite of Conte’s, he could be decisive for Juventus with his on the night provided we see the good side of him.
Catania 1-2 Juventus
The home side have always been tricky opponents for the champions to negotiate past and that trend won’t change this weekend. This Catania outfit have a strong home record this campaign and face a side that has shown signs of fatigue this season. Nevertheless, Juventus do have a bit too much ammunition for Catania to handle and should grind out another victory and extend their unbeaten run to 48 games.