Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genova
May 19th 2013
Neither team will have much to pay for when Juventus travel to Genova to take on Sampdoria. For the Serie A champions, though, pride will be a stake somewhat as Sampdoria was the team that inflicted first defeat of 2013 on Conte’s men, starting a min collapse that lasted a month.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The Blucerchiati started the season with former Juventus coach Ciro Ferrara at the helm and had a solid start. However, as the season matured their form dropped off sharply and at one point it looked like they were going back to Serie B. Ferrara was replaced by veteran Delio Rossi and Samp’s form significantly improved after that. They started 2013 with a bang, picking up completely unexpected three points in Juventus stadium and thus inflicting first defeat to the Old Lady with Antonio Conte on bench. In January and February, Sampdoria lost just once and won four matches. Other than the victory in Turin, this streak also included a defeat of AS Roma and draws against Napoli and AC Milan. Post March, their form has taken another nosedive and they have not won a single match since the 1-0 win over Parma on 3rd March. They did just enough to stave off relegation and this match is likely to be used by Sampdoria management to make most out of some of their best talents who are linked to bigger clubs. 21 year old Spanish midfielder Pedro Obiang has been linked with Juventus recently while Andrea Poli is a reported target for both Juventus and AC Milan. Sampdoria’s biggest find of the season, Mauro Icardi has been linked with Inter and it was the former Barcelona youth product who scored twice when Sampdoria upset Juventus early this year.
Sampdoria are likely to start in a 3-5-2 formation, mirroring Juventus’ set-up. The three man defence will comprise of Serie A veteran Paolo Castellini, vice-captain Daniele Gastaldello and 21 year ex-Everton defender Shkodran Mustafi. This will be Castellini’s 4th start in Serie A this season and he is likely to have trouble containing one of the most dynamic attacking set-ups in the country. Sampdoria have the best defensive record out of top-10 teams in Serie A but they have conceded a large number of goals in past couple of months. In central midfield, Sampdoria are going to field three players who, according to rumours, are unlikely to play for them next season.
Despite all the hype about Icardi, Obiang has perhaps been the most consistent Sampdoria player this season. The Spaniard has an impressive 80.5% pass success rate, despite attempting more than half a thousand passes and also leads the assists chart for his team. Poli, who first excelled while playing for Gigi Delneri three years back has found his best form in his old club once again. He has not been as creative as Obiang but has bettered his partner’s passing percentage nonetheless. With three successful tackles in each game on an average, Poli provides important cover to Obiang. Angelo Palombo, a club legend and captain adds experience to the midfield though he has been slightly short of fitness this season.
With six goals and four assists Eder has had a successful season and his partnership with Mauro Icardi caused considerable problems for Juventus, especially Federico Peluso in the first game. 20 year old Icardi will also be looking to finish on a high and touch double figures in his season in Italian top flight – he is one goal away from achieving this feat.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Da Costa; Mustafi, Gastaldello, Castellini; Rodriguez, Poli, Palombo, Obiang, Estigarribia; Eder, Icardi.
Juventus lost the chance to best the club record of most points in a single season, 91 under Fabio Capello, after they slumped to an uninspiring draw against Cagliari in last round. Most of the players seemed to be eager to enjoy the medal ceremony, which took place after the match, as a combative Cagliari side caused trouble time and again in Turin. This has been a long and tiring season for Conte’s team and the players must be looking for a well-deserved rest. Barring few, most of the Juventus players have little or nothing to prove in this match. Two players who have a point to prove against Sampdoria will start on either wings. Mauricio Isla was part of a big money double move from Udinese along with Kwadwo Asamoah but hasn’t produced half the good as the Ghanaian in Juventus. Isla suffered from a serious injury last season and took time to recover this year. However, his form after getting fully fit wasn’t up to scratch and he ended up starting just seven times this season, two of them in past two rounds. The Chilean had a good game against Atalanta but was strictly average against Cagliari. Along with Isla on right-wing, Paolo De Ceglie on the left side will also have a final chance to prove his worth to Antonio Conte. The Juventus academy product has never managed to find regular play time since the former Siena coach took over and looks unlikely to play a major role in Juventus going forward.
Andrea Barzagli, Juventus’ ever present player this season, picked up a niggle in last match and will be replaced by Martin Caceres in starting XI. Luca Marrone had an uninspiring time in the last match but he is likely to replace Andrea Pirlo sometime during the course of the match. Recently voted player of the season, Arturo Vidal will start with Claudio Marchisio to complete the now famous “M-V-P” midfield. Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella are both being linked with a transfer away from the Juventus stadium and this match is likely to be their last chance to prove their worth to Conte.
Possible Starting XI: Storari; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Isla, Pirlo, Vidal, Marchisio, De Ceglie; Vucinic, Matri
Player To Watch Out For
Mauro Icardi (Sampdoria)
Icardi came into national reckoning after his brace against Juventus in January and
the Argentine would love to sign off his, most likely, last match in a Sampdoria shirt by reaching double figures for the season.
Arturo Vidal (Juventus)
Vidal’s form has been absolutely crucial for Juventus during their nine match winning streak in the final lap of the Scudetto race. The Chilean is already Juve’s top scorer this season and he will like to end his season on a high with a goal in the very last match.
Sampdoria 1-1 Juventus
Neither team has a lot of play for and this may turn into a dull and uninspiring contest.