Juventus Stadium, Torino
October 30, 2013
Juventus showed signs of getting back to their best form as they dispatched Genoa over the weekend. Their next opponents Catania have started the season extremely poorly but have managed to get some points in last four matches.
Team News and Tactical Brief
After two back to back defeats in the span of just four days, Juventus needed a strong result against Genoa at home and Antonio Conte’s side responded in style. The Old Lady was in firm control right from kick-off, camping in Genoa half and creating a flurry of chances. Mattia Perin was in inspired form and made at least half a dozen top drawers saves while Arturo Vidal struck the frame once. Despite Perin, Juventus raced to a 2-0 lead at half time with Arturo Vidal converting a dodgy penalty and Carlos Tevez slotting a well taken goal after a pass from Kwadwo Asamoah. The second half was a quieter affair with Juventus slowing things down. There were no more goals in this match but importantly, the Juventus defence often under fire this season, kept their first home clean-sheet as their opponents failed to get a single shot on target.
Juve is likely to retain the 3-5-2 formation against Catania as per most media reports. Mauricio Isla had a relatively solid outing against Genoa and may get yet another start as right wing-back as the club keeps up its effort to bring up the Chilean’s confidence. The trio of Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini also looked comfortable against Genoa but one of them may get some rest against Catania with either Martin Caceres or Angelo Ogbonna getting a shout. Claudio Marchisio was rested against Genoa and is likely to get back a starting spot. Asamoah had one his best games as a left wing-back on the weekend, adding to his strong performance against Fiorentina in first half of the previous round. The Ghanaian was pulled out late in second half and should be back as the starting LWB against Catania.
Fernando Llorente is steadily growing in confidence and was rather unlucky to have not scored at least once last weekend. His hold up play, ability to play with his back towards the goal and extremely good first touch created ample space for both Vidal and Tevez. The former Athletic Bilbao striker is likely to start with Carlos Tevez, who notched his fifth goal in eight matches for Juventus against Genoa.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Chiellini, Bonucci, Caceres; Isla, Marchisio, Pirlo, Vidal, Asamoah; Llorente, Tevez
Catania have been on an upward curve for last three seasons. In 2010/11 they finished 13th before improving by two spots the following season. In 2012/13 they were one of the biggest surprise packages in the league and for large parts of the season seemed like clinching a spot in Europe. They eventually fell short of European slots but nonetheless, finished a highly creditable 8th, ahead of Internazionale. Their progress though, seems to have hit a bumper so far this season. With just six points from 9 matches the Sicilians find themselves just one place above relegation zone, just because of goal difference. The last few rounds have shown some signs of recovery with Gli Elefanti losing only once in four matches. Their biggest problem so far has been scoring goals and their tally of six goals in the lowest in league till now. Catania also has never defeated Juventus in the Conte era and have lost each of their last three head to head clashes.
Luigi Di Canio was employed a few days back after Catania management decided that Rolando Maran was no longer suited for the job. Di Canio may field a 4-3-3 formation but his main intention will be pull back the attacking wingers into more defensive positions and match Juventus’ midfield’s superiority. Former Juventus defender Nicola Legrottaglie will make a return to Turin and is likely to start at the heart of Elefanti defence. Catania’s defence has not been as poor as their table position and they have conceded lesser goals than the likes of Milan and Torino who are placed in mid-table. 24 year old Uruguayan Alexis Rolin is likely partner Legrottaglie in central defence.
Another former Juventus player, Sergio Almiron has been a regular starter for Catania this season. The Argentine midfielder will have the enviable task of shutting down an in-form Arturo Vidal in central midfield. 22 year old Greek midfielder Panagiotis Tachtsidis had an unflattering season at Roma last season but has done reasonably well in Catania so far. His passing % leaves a lot to be desired but his defensive shift may make a difference in Juventus stadium.
Pablo Barrientos has scored 3 goals from 12 shots in seven matches but has been largely off colour in most of the games. Juventus defence has been error prone this season but with the Argentine likely to operate in a more defensive against the three Juve defenders, things will get very difficult for him.
Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): Andujar; Alvarez, Legrottaglie, Rolin, Biraghi; Plasil, Almiron, Tachtsidis; Castro, Bergessio, Barrientos
Players to Watch Out For
Arturo Vidal (Juventus)
The Chilean’s form in past one month has been a bit dodgy and he looked out of sorts after coming on as a substitute against Fiorentina. Like the true warrior that he is, Vidal pulled his act together and was possibly the best player on the pitch against Real Madrid. The midfielder coolly slotted a penalty against Genoa and was in general involved in most of the attacking moves. Vidal is likely to become the best paid Juventus player soon and will be looking to continue his strong run of form.
Jaroslav Plašil (Catania)
The experienced Czech midfielder was brought on loan from Bordeaux to add some quality to Catania midfield. With 22 successful long balls out of 28 attempted, Plašil is one of the most creative players in the team. The 31 year old will come up against one of the strongest midfields in the continent and his performance in middle of the park will be vital for the away team.
Juventus 2-0 Catania
Form book is likely to hold the key with Juventus playing in home. Conte will be looking to maintain the positive momentum with big clashes against Real Madrid and Napoli coming up soon.