Artemio Franchi, Florence
Friday 5th Dec, 2014, 19:45 GMT
Juventus will be hoping to avoid a repeat of last season’s stunning 4-2 collapse when they travel to the Artemio Franchi to face Fiorentina tonight. It looked like a normal league win for the Bianconeri as goals from Carlos Tevez and Paul Pogba gave them a 2-0 lead at halftime. However just in a matter of 15 second half minutes the two goal lead turned into a 4-2 loss which still remains fresh in everyone’s memory. Juventus have won their last 6 games in all competitions and are looking confident as they head into this crucial week of Serie A and Champions League fixtures.
Fiorentina’s season so far has not been brilliant but they have won their last three games in all competitions away from home. They are currently in eighth position but have already clinched qualification for the next stage of Europa League. It appears they are clicking at the right moment and they head into the game with confidence after their 4-0 win over Cagliari last weekend. Juventus may have one eye on midweek’s crucial Champions League fixture against Atletico Madrid so Vincenzo Montella’s side might fancy their chances in this grudge match tonight.
Team news and tactical brief
Montella finally seems to have found the right balance after experimenting with various tactical modules this season which yielded mixed results. He has to cope with injuries to Giuseppe Rossi, Federico Bernardeschi and Manuel Pasqual. Montella seems to have settled on a consistent 3-5-2 with Juan Cuadrado in attack. Mario Gomez finally found the net after 259 days against Cagliari and although he is not fully sharp at this moment still he can act as a reference point in attack with the Colombian playing off him. Mati Fernandez has arguably been the best player for Fiorentina so far this season. He has looked sharp, creative and is a big threat with his long-rangers. He is likely to start in midfield alongside Borja Valero and David Pizarro which will ensure a lot of ball retention and playmaking in the middle of the park for La Viola.
Marcos Alonso and Joaquin are set to be used as wingbacks. After a loan spell at Sunderland the Spaniard is now the first choice at left back ahead of Pasqual and has featured in almost every single game. He was decisive against Hellas Verona with two assists and will fancy his chances against Simone Padoin tonight. Fiorentina do not have a proper right back at this moment hence they are forced to use Joaquin in this position. The former Spanish international does not have the pace anymore but uses his experience and smartness to do justice to his new role on the pitch. Gonzalo Rodriguez will anchor the defence with Stefan Savic and Jose Maria Basanta forming a trio of physical crafty centre-backs. In goal Neto, who is likely to leave Fiorentina this summer, is having his best season in Italy so far.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Neto(Gk); Savic, Rodriguez, Basanta; Joaquin, Mati Fernandez, Pizarro, Valero, Alonso; Cuadrado, Gomez
Team news and tactical brief
A change in system has paid rich dividends for Max Allegri and the Juventus midfield looks revitalized ahead of a crucial week this season. Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo both showed signs of returning to their brilliant best in the dramatic derby win last Sunday. Both are expected to start tonight although Claudio Marchisio is likely to be rested ahead of the vital clash against Atletico Madrid so Roberto Pereyra is expected to start in midfield. Reports suggest Allegri will most likely move to a back three because of injuries and suspensions which means the trio of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Angelo Ogbonna will start in defence. Gianluigi Buffon who missed the derby with a shoulder injury will be back in goal. Pereyra is likely to take the position as the fullback on the right while Patrice Evra who has had a difficult start to his Juventus career will play on the left.
Carlos Tevez who has been the MVP of Serie A so far is most likely going to be rested for this game. In his place Kingsley Coman will make his second start since the opening match week against Chievo. Fernando Llorente might be rested as well with Alvaro Morata starting upfront. Allegri has spoken with confidence regarding these two youngsters and this could be a big test of their abilities as Juventus look to avenge their defeat last year.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2):Buffon(Gk); Bonucci, Ogbonna, Chiellini; Pereyra, Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Evra; Morata, Coman
This will be the 151st meeting between these two sides in Serie A: Juventus lead by 69 wins to 32
Juve are the opponent against which the Viola have suffered the most defeats and conceded the most goals against (244) in the top-flight
Fiorentina have won only two of their last 25 games against Juve in Serie A, with 12 wins for the Old Lady in the process
Juventus have won 18 of their last 20 matches in Serie A
Juventus have kept a clean sheet in 6 of their last 8 away matches in Serie A
Juventus have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 7 matches against Fiorentina in all competitions
Players to Watch Out For
Juan Cuadrado (Fiorentina)
Juventus are well aware of the threats posed by Juan Cuadrado. Time and again he has shown how vital he is for Fiorentina in big games and nothing is bigger than this fixture against the champions at home. Quite justifiably he had a big price tag attached to him this summer and he will be Juve’s number one threat tonight.
Arturo Vidal (Juventus)
Arturo Vidal was the most decisive player on the pitch against Torino last Sunday. He gave them the lead, won countless number of tackles in the middle, made a crucial block in front of his goal and finally set up the winning goal for Andrea Pirlo. Slowly but surely he is starting to look like the Arturo Vidal of old after a slow start to this season.
Fiorentina 1–1 Juventus
The two teams are divided by a rivalry that has been fuelled many times with different episodes in the past. Fiorentina will be boosted by their fans ahead of this game while Juventus will definitely have one eye on their Champions League clash in midweek. Plus the side is short of defenders although Fiorentina do not have much luck with injuries either. A draw is the most likely outcome tonight.
Blast From the Past
In the corresponding fixture last year Juventus led 2-0 midway through the second half and were seemingly cruising to all three points. However Giuseppe Rossi netted three times in 15 minutes to inspire Fiorentina to a memorable 4-2 comeback success with Joaquin claiming the other goal.