Juventus Stadium, Torino
October 27, 2013
Juventus find themselves five points off the pace to a brilliant AS Roma side in Serie A table. The Old Lady will be looking to bounce back from last match day’s devastating outcome by returning to winning ways against Genoa.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The past week has been quite topsy-turvy for Juventus and the Bianconeri have lost back to back matches within the span of a few days, albeit the manner of their losses were dramatically different. On the weekend Juventus were quietly cruising towards an important away win Florence after taking a 2-0 lead. Then as Conte put it later “Something happened”. An incredible and unexpected blitz of clinical counter attacks saw Giuseppe Rossi become the first Fiorentina player in over half a century to score a hattrick against Juventus. By the time the dust had settled, Juventus found themselves down 4-2 after conceding the highest number of goals in Antonio Conte era. It was an utter and absolute implosion, straight out of the dark days under Alberto Zaccheroni and Gigi Delneri eras.
The defeat to Real Madrid though, was a sharp contrast and left Juventus fans with a sense of positivity which some laboured victories this season didn’t do. Conte finally decided to switch back to a four man defence, taking a gamble on playing just fit Martin Caceres and Angelo Ogbonna as left-back. Conte’s decision to use a 4-3-3/4-3-1-2 formation worked reasonably well as Juventus dished out a much more improved performance in a tight game which was slightly shaded by Giorgio Chiellini’s much debated sending off in second half. Juventus defence, which has been uncharacteristically porous this season also looked somewhat solid against one of the best offensive line-ups in football right now.
Despite the relative success of the new formation against Real Madrid, Conte is likely to go back to his 3-5-2 formation which has served Juventus well in the league in past two seasons. Martin Caceres’ highly impressive performances should see him start as one of the central defenders along with Leonardo Bonucci. Kwadwo Asamoah is also likely to make a return to the left wing-back position with Paul Pogba starting on the right side. Pogba’s deployment may be another experiment from Conte. The French starlet did make a difference by playing in the same position against AC Milan but has not started a game as a right wing-back.
Both Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella are still out injured which may see Carlos Tevez once again pair up with Fernando Llorente upfront. Sebastien Giovinco may also make an entrance in this match at some point.
Possible Starting XI: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Caceres; Pogba, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Llorente, Tevez
The oldest football club in Italy barely escaped relegation last season and by the looks of it, they may be following the same pattern this season. Genoa are sitting at 15th spot of the table and have won only twice this season. They had a tough start to their Serie A fixture list but seemed to have turned a corner when they clinched an easy 3-0 win over Sampdoria in the Derby della Laterna. That win didn’t kick-start their form eventually as they went into a 4 match winless streak. In last match-day, Genoa grabbed their first home win this season as Alberto Gilardino scored a brace to guide the Girfoni to a 2-1 victory over Chievo. Genoa have been poor travellers in the league in past 2-3 seasons and they may have their task cut out against a Juventus team itching to get back to winning ways.
Giampiero Gasperini’s return also sees Genoa coming out in the 3-4-3 formation that made them reasonably successful during the previous tenure under the same coach. Gasperini’s 3-4-3 system is characterized by width provided wing-backs who constantly push up though his teams have often lacked defensive solidity. Gasperini’s system is another reason why Conte is likely to switch back to Juve’s often used 3-5-2 formation.
Genoa’s central defence has been particularly week this season and it may be stretched against the Juve attack this weekend. Veterans Daniele Portanova and Thomas Manfredini have 67 years between two of them and they have often looked slow and lumbering this season. With wing-backs pushing up, Genoa’s three man central defence comes under more pressure and their current central defenders are yet to get accustomed to it, having failed to keep a clean-sheet in past four matches. 21 year old Croatian Šime Vrsaljko is likely to start as right wing-back and will be one of the most crucial players for Genoa. He has a sudden burst of pace and will be looking to trouble Kwadwo Asamoah, who has never been a fully comfortable left wing-back.
Alberto Giladino hit his best form since 2010 in Bologna last season, scoring 13 times. With his loan stint bearing fruit Genoa has brought him back and he has been their top scorer so far with 3 out of 8 team goals against his name. Gilardino was strongly linked with a move to Juventus late in the summer transfer market. Though that move eventually didn’t go through, the ex-Milan striker will be looking to prove his worth to the Italian champions.
Possible starting XI: Perin; Antonini, Portanova, Manfredini; Vrsaljko, Biondini, Bertolacci, Marchese; Kucka, Gilardino, Antonelli
Players to Watch Out For
Fernando Llorente (Juventus)
“The Lion King” has been slow off the blocks in Turin but finally seems to have settled down. Llorente held up the ball well against Fiorentina and Real Madrid and even notched up his first Champions League goal in the black & white jersey in mid-week. His combination with Tevez is slowly beginning to work well and the Spaniard is likely to cause problems to Genoa’s weak central defence.
Alberto Gilardino (Genoa)
Gilardino may not have managed to fully fulfill the promise he showed early in his career but nonetheless has been a very handy striker for Serie A mid-table teams. He has scored over 150 league goals, a decent number by any standards and is coming into this match on the back of a match winning brace. His experience may prove an important factor against a Juventus defence which has made errors this season.
Juventus 2-0 Genoa
Should Juventus maintain the form they showed against Real Madrid in mid-week, this will be a straight forward victory for the defending champions. Either way, home advantage is likely to have a decisive impact on this game and Juventus should come out winners without significant damage to their title hopes.