Juventus Stadium, Turin
May 11th 2013, 16:00 GMT Kick-off
The penultimate round of Serie A pits two teams with little to play for in the season. Juventus play hosts to Cagliari in their final home game of the season. Juventus will receive their deserved Scudetto after the game. The Bianconeri are on an excellent 8 game winning streak and have shown no signs of slowing down either.
The target is 92 points, a landmark that will eclipse Fabio Capello’s 2005-06 Scudetto winning side and with two games left, maximum points on the board will propel them over Capello’s star studded outfit. Cagliari only have league position to play for. With safety secured and a European spot out of their reach, the Sardinians will look forward to a busy summer market.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Antonio Conte has the luxury of fielding his fringe players. Chances will be handed to the less utilized ‘squad players’ who might not have racked up a lot of game-time. With Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba suspended, young Luca Marrone will be given the nod in the centre of the park. Marrone, a Juventus youth product, is highly rated yet Conte’s hesitancy to rotate during the campaign has restricted him to limited appearances. When he has appeared, however, he’s been converted into a centre back, owing to his passing range and Conte’s philosophy which calls for a ball-playing central defender. Nevertheless, he has shown maturity and rarely fluttered in his new role.
Mauricio Isla is in line for his second consecutive start at right wing-back. The Chilean who arrived with a lot of expectations has seldom lived up to them this season. However, he did put in an impressive shift against Atalanta. Isla does need a good string of games to regain his fitness and form and could get what he wants in these remaining couple of rounds.
In attack, Fabio Quagliarella is set to continue his partnership with Alessandro Matri. Both strikers have a point to prove and with the transfer market fast approaching, both will want to lay claims for a position in next season’s squad.
Buffon, Barzagli, Pepe, Asamoah and Bendtner are expected to sit out this game.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Storari; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Isla, Giaccherini, Marrone, Marchisio, Peluso; Quagliarella, Matri
Winless in their previous 4 games, Cagliari aren’t exactly ending their campaign on a high. Perhaps, the players and the management have their mind already set on the holidays and the summer market. For a club that has had issues regarding their ‘home games’ due to faulty stadiums, Cagliari have done reasonably well this season.
With little to play for, Cagliari will want to see the remaining rounds off on a positive note. Ivo Pulga should stick with his standard 4-3-1-2 formation. Pisano’s season was cut short with an injury and he won’t make the trip while Mauricio Pinilla returns to the squad after serving his ban. Andrea Cossu is expected to take over the playmaker role from Thiago Ribeiro. Cossu, renowned for his ability to provide the defense splitting pass will play in the hole behind the two strikers. He often tends to drift on to the flanks in order to stretch defenses. Although, he hasn’t been a consistent presence in the Cagliari side with just 13 starts, he still has 7 assists.
Cagliari’s strength lies in their midfield. Daniele Conti will shield the defense and should be flanked by the excellent, Radja Nainggolan and the dynamic Albin Ekdal. With a workmen like midfield, a lot of ground will be covered by the three of them and up against a strong Juventus midfield, they will hope to avoid chasing shadows and keep possession of the ball. Cagliari’s main marksman, Marco Sau, should be accompanied by the lanky Victor Ibrabo up front.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-1-2): Agazzi; Perico, Rossettini, Astori, Murru; Ekdal, Conti, Nainggolan; Cossu; Sau, Ibarbo
Player To Watch Out For
Alessandro Matri (Juventus)
Matri’s future is one that is clouded behind an air of uncertainty. The Italian International has had 8 goals this season in 21 Serie A games to his name and he loves to score against his old side. He will be determined to deliver and convince the Juventus management of his quality. Matri scored a well taken goal against Atalanta and will want to replicate that kind of performance.
Juventus 2-0 Cagliari
The home side will have plenty to celebrate after the game as the players prepare to receive their winning medals. They will want to entertain their fans and cap off their final home game with a victory. Expect nothing else as Juventus are the in-form team and have a great amount of momentum that will push them towards the three points.