Juventus Stadium, Turin
November 17th 2012, 17:00 GMT kick-off
Games are approaching thick and fast for Antonio Conte’s Juventus with high-flying Lazio next in line for Serie A Champions Juventus in what will be an important second half of the month for the Bianconeri. Vladimir Petkovic’s Lazio have been outstanding this term with their latest victory coming against bitter rivals Roma in the heated Capital derby. The Aquile now occupy 5th position in the league standings.
For Juventus, the loss against Inter clearly spurred them on back in the right direction. After registering unconvincing wins throughout the course of the campaign, the Bianconeri are coming off their two most authoritative displays. The dismantling of Nordsjaelland in the Champions League was followed up by a hammering of Serie A new-boys Pescara. The Old Lady has racked up 10 goals in two games following the conclusion of their magnificent unbeaten run. Juventus are now 4 points clear at the top of the table.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The aggression and intensity that was seen time and again last season from Juventus has re-emerged displacing the arrogance that was evident during the initial stages of this campaign. Pescara were pulverized by a dominant Juventus that put 6 past them while in truth it could have been a lot worse for the Delfini. Juevntus have managed to channel the anger that came from the Inter defeat to their own good. Juventus have been devastatingly good and this comes at a crucial period with games that could shape the rest of their season on the horizon.
Antonio Conte will be upbeat following the news that Simone Pepe is at his disposal once again and could finally earn some playing time. The manager should stick to his 3-5-2 formation. The defence picks itself with the trio of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini marshaling Serie A’s joint tightest defence.
Andrea Pirlo’s yellow card at Pescara sees him ruled out of this game and earn a well deserved rest in the bargain. Young French prodigy Paul Pogba is in line to replace him in the heart of midfield alongside Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal. It will be interesting to observe how Pogba, an all action midfielder performs in the center of the midfield trio. The Chilean International Vidal, after blowing hot and cold in the early part of the season has scored four goals in his last four outings. Marchisio’s late diagonal runs into the box have been found hard to pick up by opposition players and while he may not be hitting the back of the net as much as he would like, he still remains a vital cog in the Juventus machine and one of the most tactically sound players around.
Attack has been Juventus’ short-coming but you would never guess it considering the fact that the Bianconeri are top-scorers in the league but that has been the case thanks to the midfield often bailing out the misfiring strikers. But Fabio Quagliarella has hit the ground running this season and seems to have finally found his feet. His hat-trick against Pescara should tie down a spot for him spearheading the Juventus attack. Tricky Montenegrin International Mirko Vucinic could be opted for in favor of Sebastian Giovinco in attack.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Buffon(GK); Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Isla, Vidal, Pogba, Marchisio, Asamoah; Vucinic, Quagliarella
Petkovic’s appointment as successor to Edy Reja as Lazio’s manager was met with skepticism by Lazio fans. Indeed Petkovic was an unknown entity for Serie A fans but since the start of the season, his side have impressed. The recent Rome derby victory will do nothing but endear him even more to the Lazio faithful.
Petkovic is expected to deploy his standard 4-5-1 formation. A key absentee comes in the form of Senand Lulic who is serving a one game ban on account of accumulation of yellow cards. Lulic who had two spells under Petkovic at Bellinzona and Young Boys has really come to the fore this season and firmly established himself as one of the strongest full-backs in the league. Stefan Radu is expected to take his place at left-back. The central defensive duo of Andre Dias and Giuseppe Biava have forged a commanding partnership in the heart of Lazio’s defence and won’t be easy to bypass.
Midfield remains the strongest area of the pitch for Lazio. Former Juventus man Antonio Candreva has emerged risen up this season with exciting displays racking up 3 goals and 4 assists. His performances also earned him a start for Italy during the mid-week International friendly against France. Hernanes is the chief creator and should play just ahead of the midfield double pivots – Cristian Ledesma and Cristian Brocchi. Uruguayan Alvaro Gonzalez will man the left-flank. He will have to help out Stefan Radu at left-back in a bid to stop the rampaging runs of Mauricio Isla. Stefano Mauri is also suspended after he picked up a red card against Roma.
The focal point of attack should be Miroslav Klose. The German International missed out on his national side’s midweek friendly against Netherlands after suffering from a bout of flu. He, however, much to the relief of the Lazio fans seem to have recovered in time for this vital game. Klose leads the scoring charts for Lazio with 7 goals to his name. Lazio will be on the back-foot during the early stages of the game. They will be organized and look to break Juventus on the counter.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-5-1): Marchetti(GK); Konko, Dias, Biava, Radu; Candreva, Ledsema, Hernanes, Brocchi, Gonzalez; Klose
Players To Watch Out For
Claudio Marchisio (Juventus)
Il Principino is the silent performer in the Juventus midfield. Recently awarded Juventus’ Player of the Month for October, Marchisio is an essential part of the Juventus trio. His late forays into the box from deep have been untracked and could cause the Lazio defence a few problems. With the absence of Pirlo, a the creative onus from midfield will fall on his shoulders.
Miroslav Klose (Lazio)
The German veteran has taken Serie A by storm since his arrival last summer. His performances have been clinically vintage and is an indispensable part of the Lazio machine. Against a sturdy Juventus defence, he needs to put on his shooting boots and take his chances using his predator like instincts.
Juventus 2 – 1 Lazio
The home side are slight favorites over Lazio to nick this game considering the Biancocelesti’s woeful form on the road. Juventus will dominate possession in the early exchanges but if Lazio manage to hold their own and silence the crowd as the game wears on we could witness a stalemate. The Bianconeri, though, will be riding on the back of their excellent recovery since the Inter loss and should do enough to secure the three points.
Blast From The Past