Juventus Stadium, Turin
April 19th 2014, 16:30 GMT kick-off
It’s so close you can almost taste it. That’s the view from the from the Juventus and Bologna camps. Both the teams though, have different objectives in vision. For Juventus, three wins will see them retain their Scudetto regardless of what Roma do in their next few games. Bologna, on 28 points and in the 17th position in the league table, have a bit more work left to do in order to secure Serie A status for next season.
Juventus are coming off a 2-0 victory away at Udinese that maintained their 8 point lead at the top of the Serie A table. Their opponents, Bologna, are winless in 4 games with their previous two games stalemates against Inter and Parma.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The next few weeks for the Bianconeri are tumultuous to say the least. Games domestic and in Europe could define the number of titles that are added to the pack in Turin. With the away leg at Benfica just around the corner, Conte might decide to give a few players a breather. Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal in particular are expected to start against Bologna from the bench while Leonardo Bonucci and Stephan Lichtsteiner are suspended for this game. Andrea Barzagli and Simone Pepe are continued absentees through injury.
Giovinco and Llorente are expected to continue their partnership in attack. Giovinco was jeered a few weeks ago by the Juventus fans and that has seemed to catalyze a strong reaction from the Atomic Ant. An excellent goal against Udinese was the icing on the cake of a string of good performances from the Juventus youth product. His understanding with Fernando Llorente is gradually increasing and the Spaniard too has been going through a rich vein of form and will look to add to his 14 league goals this season.
Recent matches have seen Juventus assert themselves a bit more off late. Rotation has allowed players to refresh themselves when fatigue reared its tiresome head. Players who are not regular starters such as Caceres and Giovinco have also performed admirably which will no doubt delight the manager.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Caceres, Ogbonna, Chiellini; Isla, Pogba, Pirlo, Pogba, Asamoah; Giovinco, Llorente
Davide Ballardini’s side are floating just above the relegation zone and are now fighting for their lives in Serie A. Having lost Diamanti in the winter transfer window, skeptics seemed certain that their fate would see them plying their trade in Serie B next season. As of now, the club have a way to go to prove their critics wrong.
The 2-2 draw at Inter saw them show a bit of fight as they came back from the jaws of defeat not once, but twice at the San Siro. The Rossoblu then followed that impressive showing by throwing away a one goal lead against Parma on home soil. Games against Juventus, Fiorentina, Genoa, Catania and Lazio mean their run-in poses quite a few difficult hurdles. Each point secured will go a long way in assuring themselves of a spot in the top flight of Italian football.
Injuries haven’t helped their cause as Ballardini’s side will have to make do without Della Rocca, Crespo and Krhin who are all on the treatment table and won’t make the trip to Turin. The expected line up should remain the same as the one that drew against Parma. Bologna are in the relegation dogfight and every point gained from here on end could end up separating them from the doom of the drop zone. Ballardini’s side are expected to sit back and try to break Juventus on the counter. Their efficiency when the inevitable chances do arrive could determine the course of the game.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-1-1): Curci; Antonsson, Natali, Cherubin; Garics, Friberg, Pazienza, Christodoulopoulous, Morleo; Kone, Cristaldo
Player To Watch Out For
Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)
The Italian maestro has come under the spotlight off the pitch this week after his autobiography; “I Think Therefore I Play” was released in English. On the pitch, he’s always the star of the show. Pirlo is the centre of the Bianconeri’s play and you wouldn’t put it past him to unlock the Bologna defense with those incisive passes. Or who knows, he might just deliver yet another one of his signature free-kicks.
Juventus 2–0 Bologna
16 wins out 16 at home make Juventus the frontrunners for this contest. Factor in current form and there looks like there’s only one certain winner. Juventus should do justice the pre-game odds and record yet another victory. Bologna, for their part, will make themselves difficult to beat and given they have their safety to fight for, the Rossoblu won’t go down without a fight.