Juventus Arena, Turin
2nd February, 2014, 7:45 PM GMT
The Derby D’Italia returns this weekend as table toppers Juventus host an out of form Inter. Will the home side complete the double over their rivals or will the Nerazzurri manage to make it two out of two at the Juventus Arena? We preview a hotly anticipated clash between two eternal rivals.
With the mercato coming to a close, the focus now returns back to the pitch and how teams around the peninsula can buckle themselves up for an entertaining climax to the campaign. Two teams that will be the center of attention albeit for different reasons are the Nerazzurri and the Old Lady. Can Mazzarri’s men put their acts together and propel themselves towards the top 3 and can the Bianconeri maintain their foothold at the summit of the table? Sunday’s fixture at the Juventus Arena could turn out be a crucial fixture for the visitors as any slip-ups may effectively end any hopes of the Nerazzurri making it among Europe’s elite next season. Juventus, on the other hand could forge ahead even further if second place Roma manage to fluff their lines at home to Parma.
In an otherwise subdued window, the Old Lady did manage to romp in Pablo Osvaldo on loan from Southampton till the end of the season. The Italian goes straight into the squad and must be available for selection for today crunch’s tie. Conte has a near full squad available for selection with only Gianluigi Buffon missing out due to suspension courtesy of the red card received against Lazio which means Marco Storari will start only his second game of the season thus far. Chiellini, Barzagli and Bonucci will form the three man defense in front of Storari, with Lichsteiner on the right and Asamoah on the left. The home side have been relatively economical in terms of conceding goals and will hope to continue their good run of form. Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba are expected to continue their partnership in midfield with the Italian pull strings from deep. The Italian will pull strings from deep and the duo of Pogba and Vidal will look to do their share of work at both ends of the pitch. Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente should start up-top as the partnership strikes the perfect balance between the mobility of the Argentine and the physicality of the Spaniard.
Expected Starting Line-Up – Storari (GK); Lichsteiner; Barzagli; Bonucci; Chiellini; Asamoah; Pirlo; Pogba; Vidal; Tevez; Llorente
In a move to add to the creative options in midfield, Erik Thohir dished out a rather hefty 20 million for Brazilian play-maker Hernanes who joins the Nerazzurri after four successful years with Lazio. The 28 year old is fit and available for selection but it is unlikely that Walter Mazzarri will use his latest recruit from the outset. Esteban Cambiasso remains sidelined with injury whereas Fredy Guarin has one foot out of the club hence restricting options in midfield for the Italian tactician. Samir Handanovic will start in goal with Campagnaro, Rolando and Juan Jesus expected to form the back three. Barring any late injury, Jonathan should start ahead of the other new signing D’Ambrosio with Yuto Nagatomo starting on the opposite flank. Saphir Taider and Zdavrko Kuzmanovic are expected to continue their partnership at the heart of midfield alongside Ricardo Alvarez who will play a more liberal role in an advanced position. The Argentine duo of Rodrigo Palacio and Diego Millito are likely to make up the front two for the visitors.
Expected Starting Line-up – Handanovic; Jonathan; Campagnaro; Rolando; Juan Jesus; Nagatomo; Kuzmanovic; Taider; Alvarez; Palacio; Milito
Player to watch out for
Ricardo Alvarez (Inter)
The Argentine has arguably been the best player for Walter Mazzarri this season and in the absence of Guarin and Cambiasso in the middle, Alvarez will have all the more responsibility in terms of being the heartbeat of his team’s moves against a compact Juventus midfield tomorrow. Besides the creative aspect of his game, the silky midfielder will also have his work cut out when not in possession as he will probably be required to negate the influence of Andrea Pirlo.
Paul Pogba (Juventus)
The young French midfielder has been outstanding for the Old Lady this term, nailing down a place in the starting XI ahead of Claudio Marchisio. His dynamism and ability on the ball and off it have been a crucial factor in Juve’s charge at the top and Walter Mazzarri may have to devise something special to keep the midfielder quiet.
- Juventus have won their last 10 home matches in Serie A.
- Inter have lost their last 3 away matches in Serie A.
- Juventus have scored at least 3 goals in 5 of their last 6 home matches in Serie A.
- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in 5 of Juventus’s last 6 home games in Serie A
Juventus 1-0 Inter
The marquee fixture of the week may well turn out to be a delight to the aesthetics or a battle of two impressive tactical wits. The home side’s superior conditioning and form may well prove to be the decisive factor in them nudging this fixture by the slightest of margins but Walter Mazzarri’s men may well have something to say of their own post a horrendous start to the year. TheHardTackle predicts a narrow and tough three points for Juventus.