Juventus Stadium, Turin
March 26th, 2014
Juventus will be looking to continue their march towards a third consecutive scudetto as they host in-form Parma on Wednesday. Conte’s men have been made to work hard for their recent victories but to their credit Juventus have managed to come out unscathed against tough opponents with three back-to-back one nil wins. Although they are 14 points ahead of second placed Roma at this stage, the fixture against Parma tomorrow and a visit to San Paolo on Sunday will present a formidable challenge to Juventus and a glimmer of hope for Roma fans who will be hoping that the Old Lady slip up as we enter the final stretch of the scudetto race.
Parma come into this game on the back of a six game unbeaten run including four victories. They are currently on a purple patch and with the wily Antonio Cassano pulling the strings they might well fancy themselves to pick up their first ever point or even a win in the Juventus Stadium.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Juventus will welcome back Gigi Buffon in goal after he was rested against Catania. Barzagli, Peluso and Ogbonna are still nursing their injuries so the trio of Chiellini-Caceres-Bonucci will be retained for this game. Paul Pogba will be available after his suspension so he will most likely take the place of Simone Padoin alongside Vidal and Pirlo. Marchisio is back after his injury layoff but will only make the bench. Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah will take up the fullback positions as they look to curb the threats of Biabiany and Schelotto on the wings.
Up front, Conte will have his five front-men available. Capocannoniere leader Carlitos Tevez will lead the line with Fernando Llorente. Juventus youth team defender Filippo Romagna has also been called up for the squad against Parma.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Buffon (GK); Chiellini, Bonucci, Caceres; Asamoah, Lichtsteiner; Pirlo, Vidal, Pogba, Tevez, Llorente.
On the contrary, Donadoni will have a full squad at his disposal to choose from. The Gialloblu are undefeated in Serie A since an early November loss to Juventus, while their last away loss was in October against Genoa. Since then, they have notched up 9 victories in 16 matches including famous wins at the Stadio San Paolo and San Siro, resulting in their high position in the Serie A table.
The success of the team is based on a strong backline where the central back pairing of Lucarelli and Gabriel Paletta are having a remarkably good season. Paletta has been linked with a summer move to a big club including Juventus and so he will like to impress his suitors even more in this big game. Mirante will retain his place in goal. Two former Juve men will take up the fullback positions for Parma: Mattia Cassani will play on the right with Christian Molinaro on the left. The midfield will be formed by Acquah on the right, Parolo on the left and another ex-juve player Marchionni in the middle while Walter Gargano misses out with an injury. The forward line sees Cassano playing through the centre as a false nine flanked by the in-form Schelotto and the pacy Biabiany who himself has been linked with a move to Juventus for the past two transfer sessions.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Mirante(GK); Cassani, Paletta, Lucarelli, Molinaro; Acquah, Marchionni, Parolo; Biabiany, Schelotto, Cassano
Players to Watch Out For
Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)
Andrea Pirlo has been a pivotal figure for Juventus once again this term. He himself made sure that Juventus got out of jail against a determined Genoa side with a trademark freekick into the top corner. He converted an even more important freekick three days later as Juve progressed to the quarterfinals of Europa League with a hard-fought victory over Fiorentina. Not content with these two goals, he produced a wonderful display in Sicily as he found Osvaldo and Lichtsteiner in dangerous goalscoring positions with remarkable ease. Eventually he started the move for the Tevez winner with a beautiful pass to Osvaldo from his own half. Parma will have to be on guard as Il Metronomo is looking unstoppable at this moment.
Antonio Cassano (Parma)
Many people wrote off Cassano’s career at the top level after the self-proclaimed hardcore Interista left his beloved Inter Milan this summer when Walter Mazzarri made it clear he was not required in his project. When he joined Parma few would have expected him to re-discover his best days in the Sampdoria shirt when Fantantonio almost single-handedly led the Blucerchiati to the Champions League. Donadoni has carefully managed Cassano and the results are there for all to see. A brace against his former club AC Milan was a personal triumph and he has been boosted by the positive signals sent in his direction by La Nazionale coach Cesare Prandelli. Cassano has never played in a World Cup and the 32yr old Barese knows this is his last opportunity. He will look to keep up his good form to cement his place for the Azzurrri and also help Parma secure a Europa League qualification spot.
Juventus 2–1 Parma
Parma are unbeaten in their last six games and will be looking to continue the run of good form as we approach the business end of the season. Juventus have won their last six games and even though they have a healthy lead over Roma, Antonio Conte will push his side for the three points keeping in mind Juventus have a tough trip to the San Paolo this weekend. Considering the hundred percent record at their own background, Juventus are expected to get their 15th home win tomorrow and go past Torino’s record of 14 successive home victories set in the 1975-76 season.
Blast From the Past
Juventus began their journey in their new home in 2011 under the guidance of new manager Antonio Conte. The first match in their brand new stadium was against Parma. Pirlo orchestrated a scintillating display as Juve thrashed Parma 4-1. It set the tone for a historic season as the Old Lady went on an unbeaten run to win their first scudetto since 2006.
~ Written by Devrup Jyoti Gupta