Citta del Tricolore
April 28th 2014, 18:45 GMT kick-off
Two more wins, that’s all that separates Juventus from yet another Serie A title. Had it not been for Roma’s comfortable victory over AC Milan, the Old Lady could have secured the Championship with a win against Sassuolo. As things stand though, they look set to conquer Italy on the 5th of May, a day that in the past, has been synonymous with winning the league for them.
Sassuolo, at the other end of the table, have it all to fight for. Eusebio Di Francesco’s have managed to string together positive results that has seen them elevate themselves above the dreaded drop zone. As things stand, they are level on points with Bologna but a superior head-to-head record has them hovering above the relegation trio.
Team News and Tactical Brief
There’s a ray of hope for Sassuolo. It looked like the writing was on the wall as relegation stared them right in the face but the month of April has been kind to them as their revival has given them a new lease of life. Wins over Atalanta and Chievo are just what the doctor ordered but with games against Juventus, Genoa, Fiorentina and finally Milan to go, they do have their work cut out for them. Nevertheless, it’s the fear of dropping down into the lower divisions that brings out the best in teams and on this evidence, Sassuolo won’t go down without a fight.
Di Francesco has a number of absentees that don’t help his cause. Missiroli and Biondini are accompanied by the talismanic Domenico Berardi in the suspension list. Berardi, who has won plaudits across the peninsula is a big miss in particular. With 13 goals to his name, the man co-owned by Juventus, will be a huge miss for his side. Alexe, Acerbi, Brighi, Bianco, Manfredini and Luca Marrone are doubts for this fixture.
Sassuolo are one of the few bottom sides in the league that love to go out and play their own brand of attacking football. Di Francesco is a disciple of Zdenek Zeman’s philosophy so the expectation would be that they won’t resort to extremely defensive tactics. With the fear of relegation looming over their shoulders, the onus would be on them to go out and get the points on board that would be a step towards safety.
Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): Pegolo; Gazzola, Antei, Cannavaro, Longhi; Chibsah, Magnanelli, Ziegler; Floro Flores, Zaza, Sansone
The performance against Benfica in midweek had encouraging signs; there were plenty of positives for Antonio Conte to take. Juventus put in an excellent yet the score-line leaves them with a lot of work to do in the return leg. Coming back to the league, the bianconeri will feel that they have one hand on the Scudetto. A historic title it would be as they chase the possibility of winning it for the third time on the trot, something they haven’t managed to do since the 1930s. They could also breach the 100 points barrier, as of now they’re 10 short off the mark.
Arturo Vidal and Simone Pepe are facing injury troubles and could miss out on this fixture. The Chilean won’t be risked as the medical staff declared him unfit. There are minor fears that his World Cup adventure could be in jeopardy although nothing is conclusive yet. A bit of rotation is in motion as Mauricio Isla should come in allowing Stephan Lichtsteiner to recharge his batteries for the Benfica game while Martin Caceres is expected to retain his position in the back three.
The game-plan for Antonio Conte will of course be to get the points on the board as quickly as possible. The game against Benfica will certainly be playing at the back of the manager’s head and as such expect the first team to be rotated. Recent league games have shown their tendency to take the game by the scruff of the neck in the first period and a goal or two cushion will allow them a slightly laid back approach in the second.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Isla, Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio, Peluso; Giovinco, Llorente
Player To Watch Out For
Claudio Marchisio (Juventus)
Arturo Vidal’s absence means that a lot of burden the Chilean carried will fall on the shoulders of Marchisio. The Italian International hasn’t had the best of seasons but he remains an integral part of the team. Marchisio’s typically late runs into the box often go unnoticed and it is here that he is at his most lethal going forward. Expect a good display from the Il Principino.
Sassuolo 0-2 Juventus
This game could be a bit of the banana skin. There’s plenty of motivation on the part of both the sides to go out and grab the three points. When it comes to form, Juventus are ahead and when it comes to the technical quality, the bianconeri are miles ahead. You’d tend to lean in favor of a Juventus victory with them inching closer to the title.
Blast From the Past