Juventus Stadium, Turin
February 23rd 2014, 17:30 GMT kick-off
A controversial second half goal from Paul Pogba is what separated rivals Juventus and Torino back in September in the first Derby Della Mole of the season. The second one, on Sunday night, promises to be a spectacular and eagerly awaited showdown between two clubs who’ve set the league alight. Pogba’s goal sparked outrage as Torino officials cried offside. The two teams then took to social media to dish out jibes at each other. It seemed like a childish exchange but it certainly made for entertaining viewing.
When you look at the Serie A table, the surprise doesn’t lie with Juventus storming away but with Torino marching towards a European spot. The Granata are level on points with Parma although the latter do have a game in hand. Nevertheless, there is an air of optimism that has descended with regards to their hopes of playing continental football next season.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Midweek saw their European commitments come into play as Juventus carry a two goal lead into their second leg fixture against Trabzonspor. It was a much rotated side with the fringe players given a chance to impress. Prior to that a convincing victory over Chievo Verona at the Juventus Stadium saw goals from Asamoah, Marchisio and Llorente hand the champions their 12th home victory this season out of as many games. It’s an incredible record that attests to just how tough the Bianconeri are at home.
Giorgio Chiellini, Mirko Vucinic and Simone Pepe are all expected on the treatment table for this fixture. Rotation is the need of the hour and from the line-up deployed in midweek, you get the feeling that the league takes the highest priority. Lichtsteiner, Asamoah, Barzagli, Vidal and Llorente are all expected to make a return to the starting eleven. Pablo Osvaldo proved that he can do his part in helping Juventus with a goal in midweek. He remains an option from the bench for Antonio Conte.
With two teams playing formations that mirror each other, it won’t be easy for the Bianconeri to break down the Toro defense. Their play revolves around the industry and talent of Carlos Tevez. The Argentine will be central to Juve’s creativity in the final third. In midfield, Arturo Vidal remains the engine room and his non-stop hassling will allow Juventus to dictate terms.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Caceres; Asamoah, Pogba, Pirlo, Vidal, Lichtsteiner; Llorente, Tevez
The Granata have historically been one of the best sides in Italian Football but for years they’ve lived in the shadow of their glorious past. Yet there is newfound optimism and enthusiasm given the run of results that have gone their way this campaign. It’s been their most successful season in more than twenty years; at the heart of which has been the fearsome duo of Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci.
The front two have combined to produce scintillating performances and evidence of which lies in the statistics. With 24 goals together in the league, they have the most devastating attacking partnership in Serie A, followed closely, incidentally, by Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente of Juventus who have 23. Cerci’s pace and trickery will be a handful for the Juventus defense. The former Fiorentina man has the tendency to drift out wide and his willingness to run at the back three could cause mayhem.
Expect Giampiero Ventura’s side to play a bit deeper than usual with the counter-attacking route their preferred option. They’ll hope to squeeze Juve’s midfield which does have the tendency to get narrow due to the lack of natural wingers. Marshalling the likes of Fernando Llorente and Paul Pogba remains an uphill task particularly the latter’s sneaky late runs into the box which often go un-noticed.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Padelli; Maksimovic, Glik, Moretti; Darmian, Vives, Farnerud, El Kaddouri, Masiello; Cerci, Immobile
Player To Watch Out For
Ciro Immobile (Torino)
Immobile may not be a particularly apt name for a modern day striker but the player co-owned by both the Turin clubs is a man on fire. The Toro striker has amassed 13 goals to his credit this term, level with Juve’s Carlos Tevez. His excellent return will no doubt trigger talks between the two clubs in the summer but another clinical showing may cause despair to one set of his owners while delight to the other.
Juventus 2–1 Torino
It’s a derby and by definition all the form goes out the window. There’s pride and bragging rights at stake here and both sets of players will be fully aware of the magnitude of the game. Home advantage does tilt the scales in Juventus’ favor as does their superior technical quality. This game should be a bit more open than the reverse fixture with the Serie A leaders just edging it.
Blast From the Past