Juventus Stadium, Turin
August 31st 2013, 18:45 GMT kick-off
A repeat of a fixture that took place earlier this month pits Juventus and Lazio yet again, this time in Serie A. The SuperCup thrashing handed out to Lazio by the title holders will be fresh in the memory of the Biancocelesti as will the wounds. Juve made light work of a team that has been stubborn to them in recent memory.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The first home game of the season for the Champions is always met with excitement in the cauldron that is the Juventus Stadium. But the buzz doing the rounds will be surrounding their Champions League Group Stage draws. Placed in a group alongside Real Madrid, Galatasaray and Copenhagen, the Bianconeri are favorites to emerge to book a spot in the next round but not without having to fight their way.
The inaugural Serie A game provided an utterly professional performance from Juventus. They travel to Genoa and without too much fuss, came away with the three points courtesy of a Carlos Tevez strike which rounded off a very well worked move. The torrential downpour perhaps affected both sides but it was the quality of Juventus that came through.
Conte will stick to his favored 3-5-2 formation with the team basically picking itself. Stephan Lichtsteiner was instrumental in the defeat of Lazio with direct involvement in 3 of the 4 goals. Paul Pogba’s ascendency into stardom continued with another assist against Sampdoria. The Frenchman’s composure was evident when he set-up Tevez for what would turn out to be, the eventual winner. In the continued absence of Marchisio through injury, Pogba should maintain his place in midfield.
Mirko Vucinic looks set to continue his partnership with Tevez. Arguably the two most creative forces in the side but they haven’t quite yet found the chemistry between them. Understandably so, it will take time for both of them to get on the same wavelength and develop an understanding and if they do, Juventus have a potentially lethal pairing on their hands.
Along with Claudio Marchisio, Simone Pepe is expected to sit this one out.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Asamoah; Vucinic, Tevez
Vladimir Petkovic’s side quickly got themselves back on their feet with an opening night slender win against Udinese. Revenge will, of course, be on their agenda and will be a positive stimulant after they were embarrassed on their own turf by Juventus. That hunger alone for redemption makes them an even greater threat than they already were.
Petkovic’s side will be aiming for a finish in the European zone, more likely the Europa League which is a realistic target for the Capital side. Lazio have made some smart reinforcements to their squad with Lucas Biglia and Diego Novaretti putting pen to paper. Both are expected to start on Saturday. If reports are to be believed, they are also eyeing up a move for Galatasaray star Burak Yilmaz, a signing that would represent a major coup for them.
Lazio will field a 4-4-1-1 formation with Miroslav Klose leading the line. Prior to the SuperCup, Klose spoke about never having beaten Gianluigi Buffon and while he found himself one on one with the Juventus captain during that game, he couldn’t find the back of the net. You can be certain he’ll be determined to rectify that error.
Hernanes was typically inspirational against Udinese and produced a stunning left-footed goal. He pulls the strings from midfield, dictates play and is central to everything good Lazio offer offensively. What may start out as a 4-4-1-1 when in possession, will change into a 4-5-1 with Candreva falling back, thus crowding the midfield.
Cana, Konko, Pereirinha, Felipe Anderson, Alfaro and Vinicius are sidelined for this game.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Marchetti; Cavanda, Novaretti, Biava, Radu; Gonzalez, Biglia, Hernanes, Lulic; Candreva; Klose
Player To Watch Out For
Carlos Tevez (Juventus)
Tevez’s arrival ended the long hunt for that elusive top player. Against Sampdoria, he already proved to be the difference maker that Juventus lacked. Team-mates as well as the management have lavished praise on him citing his work-rate as his most impressive trait as he looks to have settled well in Italy. But the quality of his addition has pushed the club to a whole new level. Expect him to drive the home side forward against and provide that cutting edge up front.
Juventus 2-0 Lazio
Going into this fixture, Juventus’ demolition of Lazio a few weeks prior makes them obvious favorites. The ‘home’ factor only amplifies it. This game will be a bit more conservative than the SuperCoppa spectacle but the Bianconeri should secure the three points.