Juventus Stadium, Turin
February 16th 2014, 14:00 GMT kick-off
The game against Hellas was always going to be a potential banana skin and it proved to be just that as Juventus missed out on the three points and the chance to extend their Serie A lead. It was a game of two halves as the Bianconeri completely dominated proceedings in the first and established a two goal lead. The second, however, was a case of them taking the game for granted. Hellas found two goals that meant the game would end in a stalemate and the spoils were to be shared.
Hellas’ cousins Chievo now have the daunting task of facing the Champions at their home. The Juventus Stadium has proven to be a fortress for the Old Lady as she is yet to give up points on home turf. The fact that Chievo haven’t won a game since edging out lowly Sassuolo in early December only further dampens their chances.
Team News and Tactical Brief
It looked like another game where the Bianconeri were going to outclass their opponents and that was the general drift of the game for a half but complacency was their undoing. Conte was infuriated with his team and they felt the backlash of it with the Coach calling off their regular post-game rest day. It was a missed opportunity to bring further daylight between them and Roma who endured a goal-less draw in the Rome derby.
What is worrying for the manager is the amount of goals the team have let in from set-pieces. 9 out of Juventus’ 18 conceded goals have come from dead ball situations. The organization skills of Andrea Barzagli and the pure aerial presence of Giorgio Chiellini will be missed of Sunday evening as the duo sit out the game with injuries. Martin Caceres and Angelo Ogbonna will have their chance to impress.
The positive from the Hellas game was certainly the double from Carlos Tevez. The Argentine broke his duck this year with a brace that bodes well for his confidence. While Conte might be tempted to rotate offering Claudio Marchisio a chance and resting Paul Pogba ahead of the midweek Europa League round of fixtures. That fixture takes the back-set as the league still remains the highest of priorities of the manager.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Caceres, Bonucci, Ogbonna; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Tevez, Llorente
Eugenio Corini’s second stint as Chievo’s manager hasn’t quite turned out to be as he’d have hoped. His side are hovering above the danger drop zone with just a single point separating them from Livorno and Sassuolo. Times are indeed hard for the Flying Donkeys with them failing to register a win since December and managing to assemble just three points since then. It’s an abysmal feeling in the Chievo camp now knowing they’re just a slip up away from positioning themselves in the relegation zone.
Corini does have a few selection headaches to contend with. Bostjan Cesar is suspended while Adrian Calello, Dario Dainelli and Leandro Paredes are expected to miss out the game on account of injuries. Corini should mirror Conte’s 3-5-2 formation with the sole purpose of crowding out the Juventus midfield. Expect them to be tight and offer Juve little room to maneuver while sitting back deep and opting for a counter-attacking style of play.
They will be aware of Juventus’ susceptibility from set-pieces and that should they be offered the chance, they will pile on the big men forward. Their lack of goals in recent games will be a concern for Corini. You don’t get many chances to score against Juventus and the manager will order his side to be at their clinical best.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Puggioni; Frey, Canini, Bernardini; Sardo, Bentivoglio, Radovanovic, Hetemaj, Drame; Thereau, Paloschi
Player To Watch Out For
Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)
The heart-beat of this Juventus side, Pirlo has showcased his importance greatly in the past two games. The former Milan midfielder looks set to continue his journey with the Old Lady beyond this season and with his quality performances it isn’t hard to understand why. Pirlo will pull the strings from midfield and with his creativity and brilliant mind, you can count on him to make the difference.
Juventus 3–0 Chievo Verona
There is a certain sense of redemption that is surrounding this game. Juventus will feel the need to bounce back from a dropped two points and the words of the manager will ringing in the ears of the players. The Juventus Stadium has been a cauldron of noise and has given the Bianconeri the push towards the three points. Expect nothing less from Juventus as they should maintain their perfect home record.