Juventus Stadium, Turin
April 6th, 2013
Team News and Tactical Brief
Juventus endured their worst night in Antonio Conte era when they were completely outplayed and outclassed against Bayern Munich. Antonio Conte himself was out-coached by one of the most experienced managers in Europe and did very little to change the course of game. Even the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli and Andrea Pirlo, Juve’s most consistent performers in Conte era, were off colour and had a torrid time against a star studded Bayern attack. In all honesty, 2-0 was a scoreline which somewhat flattered Juventus, as the Italian champions were completely battered, literally from the start. To make matters worse the hugely important duo of Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner will both miss the second leg due to suspension.
Things were somewhat different when Juventus faced off against Pescara last time. At that time, Juventus had been outplayed by Internazionale at home and lost their unbeaten record but had bounced back with a spectacular 4-0 thrashing of FC Nordsjaelland in Champions League, thus ending a run of three consecutive draws in Europe’s elite competition. Fresh from the thrashing of the Danish champions, Juventus started another goal-fest against the 2011/12 Serie B champions, running out 6-1 winners at Stadio Adriatico and thus ruining the birthday of talented young goalkeeper Mattia Perrin. Things are unlikely to change in this match as Juventus will be looking to empty their mid-week frustration on the minnows.
Juventus will be missing Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli in this encounter, both of whom are suspended. Either way, this will be a good chance for Conte to have two of his most important defenders fresh and rested for Bayern Munich next week. Federico Peluso and young Luca Marrone are likely to join Leonardo Bonucci in the three man back-line. Stephan Lichtsteiner will be suspended in next mid-week so he is likely to start against Pescara on right-wing with Kwadwo Asamoah in left wing. Both Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo had a tough time against Bayern’s relentless pressing in Munich and are candidates for a rest on the weekend. In that case Emmanuele Giaccherini and Paul Pogba will team up with Arturo Vidal in midfield.
Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella, who scored a hattrick in that 6-1 win, have started each of the last two matches. They both scored against Inter but were woefully out of depth against Bayern. It is likely that Mirko Vucinic will start this match, as he needs to get to full match fitness before the Champions League encounter.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Storari; Marrone, Bonucci, Peluso; Lichsteiner, Vidal, Pogba, Giaccherini, Asamoah; Vucinic, Quagliarella
Things have not gone well at all for last season’s Serie B champions since their promotion. Last season the Delfini were one of the most exciting sides across all divisions in Italy. Under the eccentric Zdenek Zeman and boasting of three of the brightest young talents in Italy, Pescara scored goals for fun before lifting the cadetti. During summer Ciro Immobile, Serie B top scorer, and Lorenzo Insigne would return to their parent clubs and Marco Verratti would get shipped off to PSG. To make things worse Zeman joined AS Roma. Pescara was marked out to be a potential relegation candidate throughout the season and they have not done much to defy that title. They began 2013 in an uplifting note by upsetting Fiorentina away from home but things have gone downhill steadily from there. Pescara come to the Juventus stadium on the back of an eleven game winless streak, ten of them losses. They are also facing some very crucial matches in next few rounds. If facing AS Roma and Napoli was not enough they also have relegation six pointers against Siena and Genoa.
Pescara have retained the 4-3-3 formation of Zeman from last season and are likely to play the same system on the weekend, albeit a defensive version. Their back four is a mix of experience and youth. Calcio veterans Per Krøldrup, Damiano Zanon and Francesco Modesto will team up with 20 year old Uroš Ćosić, the Serbian U21 International who is on loan from CSKA Moscow. Defence has been the weakest link for the Delfini and has seen them ship in a massive 61 goals in 30 matches. They have conceded 10 more goals than the second worst defence in the league, which incidentally is AS Roma coached by ex-coach Zeman till a few days back. Pescara have also failed to keep a single clean sheet since first week of January. Their defence failed to deal with Juventus attackers at home and is unlikely to pose any problems in Turin.
Ex-Juventus hard man Manuele Blasi, who played 40 times for the club between 2002 and 2007 will have the job in central midfield to deal with the likes of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba. Brazilian Eugênio Rômulo Togni is likely to partner club captain Emmanuel Cascione in an experience three man midfield whose main job will be thwart Juventus’ attacks. The absence of Gaetano D’Agostino, once considered one of the best passers in the peninsula, is bound to hurt Pescara in midfield.
Colombian Juan Quintero has been one of the very few bright sparks for Pescara this season. The midfielder, who turned 20 this January, has been hailed as one of the best young talents in Serie A right now and Pescara will be hoping that the starlet fetches them a handsome transfer fee when transfer window arrives. Quintero’s dribbling skills caused Juventus considerable amount of problem in the first leg and he will be one of the most dangerous players for the visiting side, playing as a wide-man in their attacking trident. He is likely to be partnered by two winter signings Giuseppe Sculli and Ferdinando Sforzini
Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): Pelizzoli; Zanon, Krøldrup, Ćosić, Modesto; Blasi, Togni, Cascione; Quintero, Sculli, Sforzini
Players To Watch Out For
Paul Pogba (Juventus)
The French youngster has had a bit of rough time over past two weeks. He was sent off on International duty against Spain and then had very little impact in the games that he played for Juventus. He has often done well when he has started games and Pescara will be an ideal opponent for him to increase his goal tally.
Juan Quintero (Pescara)
The Colombia prospect has been one of the best offensive players for Pescara till date with a goal against his name and multiple assists. His set-pieces abilities are also pretty good and he is likely to get opportunities in free-kick as Peluso has a habit of giving them away around the box.
Juventus 3-0 Pescara
Juventus will be eager and ready to bounce back from their mid-week humbling and Pescara is unlikely to mount any serious obstruction in this match.