Juventus Stadium, Turin
March 9th 2014, 11:30 GMT kick-off
The first of a triple header between two of the peninsula’s most exciting teams begins this Sunday. The first one attends to league matters while the following two are Europa League fixtures, a competition both teams are aiming to do well in. As always, there’s a bit of rivalry in the air when Juventus face Fiorentina. For the Bianconeri though, this is a chance for redemption; a time to exact revenge upon the only side to have given them the sour taste of defeat.
Back in October, Juventus looked to cruising to yet another victory with a two goal lead over the team from Florence but a complete drop in concentration, on the part of the home side, played its role in turning the tables. A stunning Giuseppe Rossi hat-trick and a solitary goal from Joaquin contributed to a rare Juventus loss. The Champions responded like Champions do, they learned from their mistakes and embarked upon a 12 game winning streak.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The International round of friendlies saw plenty of Juventus and Fiorentina players depart to represent their national colors. With games coming in thick and fast, fatigue can play a deciding role. For Antonio Conte, Giorgio Chiellini’s return to the starting eleven is a major boost. The hard-man is one of the most reliable players around when it comes to the big occasions and is certainly one of the most important players at Juve. Andrea Pirlo, though, will sit out this game through suspension while Mirko Vucinic and Simone Pepe are injured.
Pirlo’s absence allows us to get another closer look at Claudio Marchisio in the regista position. The Juve youth product has shown some positive signs in this new role that also underlined his versatility. Marchisio’s anticipation skills are brought to the fore and his intricate passing ability becomes visible.
Juventus’ approach to this game could be interesting. Against the top sides, they’ve been happy to play on the counter. It worked well against Milan as their forwards were clinical. At the Juventus Stadium, you get the feeling that they will take the game to their opponents. The understanding between Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez has been one of the key factors behind their success in Serie A. The front pair are the most lethal duo in the league and they combine Llorente’s physicality with Tevez’s energy to devastating effect.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon;Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Marchisio, Pogba, Asamoah; Tevez, Llorente
Fiorentina are a side that have set a top three spot as their highest priority. And while they looked a good bet to achieve that target in the early parts of the season, their season has started to hit a few speed-breakers. With the gap between the Viola and third placed Napoli now 7 points, the sense is that a Champions League spot is slowly slipping out of their reach.
Injuries of course, form perfect alibis with it being no coincidence that Giuseppe Rossi’s injury paved the way for Fiorentina’s slip-ups. Mario Gomez has sat out for the best part of the campaign but returned recently to the delight of his manager. He should start on Sunday. Midfield artist Borja Valero continues his suspension along with Nenad Tomovic.
Montella is expected to favor the 4-3-3 formation. The former Catania manager is a well known fan of attractive football and with three passers and no real destroyer in midfield, the fluidity of the midfield increases. Pace and directness from Juan Cuadrado could trouble the Juventus backline as could the invention of the moody Josip Ilicic. Both players are technically gifted and if they do show-up, they could cause nuisance.
Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): Neto; Diakite, Rodriguez, Savic, Pasqual; Aquilani, Pizarro, Mati Fernandez; Cuadrado, Matri, Ilicic
Player To Watch Out For
Paul Pogba (Juventus)
Paul Pogba is a special talent and is a player that is courted by the top sides in Europe. However, his performance levels have dipped with Juventus and some fear there might be a bit of a burn-out with the player in desperate need of a break. But Pogba’s shown that even when he’s not on the top of his game, he has the ability to pull a rabbit out of the hat. The Frenchman may just cook up something special for this game.
Juventus 2–1 Fiorentina
At home, Juventus are a force of nature that has been uncontainable. With 13 wins out 13, they have Torino’s record of 14 in sight and should match the feat set by their neighbors. Fiorentina have been dropping points like flies lately and could find it hard to handle a Juventus side on the hunt for payback. A narrow Juventus win is on the table.