Stadio Friuli, Udine
September 2nd 2012, 16:00 GMT
The Champions of Italy, Juventus, make the trip to Udine where they face an exciting Udinese side in round 2 of Serie A. The home side haven’t made the brightest of starts to their season having lost their inaugural game of the league season to a very optimistic Fiorentina outfit. In Europe, they once again fell at the very first hurdle, repeating last season’s failure to qualify for the Champions League group stages. It was an agonizing and morale hurting exit for Francesco Guidolin’s men, who were only outdone on penalties by Braga.
For Juventus, they’ve just concluded their summer mercato with the signing of Nicklas Bendtner, who Sporting Director Giuseppe Marotta has admitted wasn’t the ‘top player’ they were on the hunt for. Nevertheless, they can boast of a formidable squad, capable of challenging on all three tiers. Their start to the campaign kicked-off positively with a comfortable 2-0 win over Parma at the Juventus Stadium. The only real drawback from that victory was the untimely ankle injury suffered by attacker Sebastian Giovinco which has sidelined him for up to two weeks.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The disappointing departure from the Champions League has certainly dimmed the mood at the Friuli. The fact that the game against Braga during midweek went all the way to penalties forms a barrier as far as preparations go for Francesco Guidolin’s troops. Fatigue will come into play as they ready themselves to welcome the Serie A champions.
Once again this summer, Udinese have sold their brightest talents. Samir Handanovic, Asamoah, Isla are some of the names to have vacated the Friuli and yet again the odds are stacked against them to acquire a European spot. They do, however, manage to unearth a few gems with each passing season and Guidolin is a master at honing these talented prospects.
The manager is set to deploy his tried and tested 3-5-1-1 formation. Udinese play a counter-attacking game where they break out of defense with pace and precision and look to hit their opponents swiftly. The midweek Champions League games could force Guidolin into making a few swaps with regards to his first eleven. Domizzi, Benatia, Armero and Fabbrini are all expected to be given a rest. Heurtaux, Coda, Pasquale and Maicousel are reportedly in line to replace the aforementioned players.
Dusan Basta will provide the width and energy down the right flank. He faces what promises to be an intriguing battle with Asamoah. Willians and Pereyra will marshal the center of midfield. The former will sit just in front of the defense and his job will be focused upon breaking up Juventus’ play. Pereyra is a more box-to-box midfielder and could cause Juventus a few headaches with his tireless running. The much criticized Maicousel, whose not so smart penalty cost Udinese a spot in the group stages of the Champions League will be looking to make amends as soon as he can and try to put aside the ghosts of that horrific penalty effort. Ahead of him will be Udinese’s inspirational skipper, Antonio Di Natale.
Ighalo, Pinzi and Barreto are all unavailable through injury.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-1-1): Brkic; Heurtaux, Danilo, Coda; Basta, Faraoni, Willians, Pereyra, Pasquale; Maicousel; Di Natale
The visitors will be confident going into this game on the back of their win against Parma. Boss Conte remains banned from the touch-line but he is expected to stick with his favored 3-5-2 formation. The good news for his side comes in the form of the return from injury of captain Gigi Buffon and hard-man Giorgio Chiellini. Their restoration to the starting line-up results in the displacement of Marco Storari and Luca Marrone respectively. It also allows Leonardo Bonucci to return to the center of Juventus’ back-three where he is more at home and can distribute from deep.
The midfield sees no change with Lichtsteiner and Asamoah operating as wing-backs. The pair was critical on opening day with the former scoring Juventus’ first goal of the season while the latter churned out an excellent performance.
The magnificent midfield trident of Vidal-Pirlo-Marchisio is expected to start the game. If Juventus are to dominate the ball, then much of it is down to how effective the trio is in going about their job. Marchisio and Vidal will cover every blade of grass on the pitch allowing time and freedom for Andrea Pirlo to wave that magical leg of his and influence proceedings.
Owing to Giovinco’s injury, Alessandro Matri will receive his first start of the season. The man who finished as Juventus’ top-scorer last campaign will carry a heavy burden on his shoulders and will have much to prove this term and convince the club that he is indeed a worthy starter for a club of Juventus’ caliber. He will be partnered by the enigmatic Mirko Vucinic who will be the creative force in the final attacking third.
Caceres, Pepe, Isla and Lucio are all on the treatment table for Juventus.
Probable Starting Lineup (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Vucinic, Matri
Players To Watch Out For
Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus)
Juventus’ summer signing from Udinese was by far the best player on the pitch on opening day. Now, Asamoah returns to his old stomping ground and won’t hold back as he looks to torment his ex-team-mates. His dynamism and sheer energy will make him a force to watch out for as he patrols down Juventus’ left-flank.
Antonio Di Natale (Udinese)
The symbol and captain of Udinese will spearhead the attack for the home side. Francesco Guidolin’s side will once again pit their hopes on the shoulders of their talismanic captain in the hope that he can produce something magical as they look to breach a sturdy and stubborn Juventus defense.
Udinese 0-1 Juventus
The form book leans towards Juventus’ side and the Old Lady will not disappoint. It promises to be a tight contest at the Friuli with both teams looking for the three points. Expect Juventus to dominate possession as they will be the fresher side. Their superior level of technical quality should also see the visitors nick this game but only just.
Blast From The Past