Stadio Friuli, Udine
April 14th, 2014
With only 38 points from 32 games and currently sitting in 14th place, Udinese are having a mediocre season to say the least. Entering 2014 with six wins, Udinese have registered only five wins since then and a total of sixteen losses this season paints a picture of gloom for a club who won plaudits in the past few years for maintaining a healthy model of buying cheap and selling them for profit yet managing to do reasonably well in the league. Udinese patron Giampaolo Pozzo will be counting on the new stadium (The project has set a completion date of the 2014-15 season) which will no doubt give them and their fans something positive to look forward to. One of the biggest problems Udinese had for the last few seasons is the lack of comparable substitutes; while their starting lineup is decent, they do not have the depth to fill in once injuries inevitably plague the team. Despite playing the worst season in recent history, Udinese did not feel necessary to make any changes to their disaster of a squad. The Zebrette look on course to match their performance of 2009-10 season where they finished a lowly 15th. Udinese have managed only 35 goals this season and as expected Antonio Di Natale is once again their top scorer with 11 goals which by his standards is a paltry return.
Fresh from their midweek victory over Lyon and the subsequent qualification to the semi-finals of the Europa League, Juventus will be looking to keep up their winning habit as we approach the business end of this season. With Roma winning on Saturday, the Bianconeri will be aiming for three points to restore their eight-point lead at the top of the table. Juventus are unbeaten against Udinese under the stewardship of Antonio Conte and they would be looking to extend this run on Monday evening.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Udinese coach Guidolin will field a 3-5-1-1 formation with teenage sensation Simone Scuffet on goal. Scuffet has been the only major talking point for Udinese in what has been a woeful season for them. Danilo will be marshaling the three men defence. The Brazilian has done reasonably well but he will have to be on the top of his game to neutralize the in-form Fernando Llorente. He is expected to be joined by inexperienced Croat Igor Bubnjic and Frenchman Thomas Heurtaux. Left fullback Gabriel Silva has had a good season so far and is rumored to be on Inter Milan’s wish list for next season. He will be looking to stretch Lichtsteiner with his pace and direct runs.
In the middle of the park Allan Marques is the creative outlet for Udinese along with Andrea Lazzari and a lot will depend on how they can dictate the play against a strong Juventus midfield. On the right, Dusan Basta will be looking to trouble Asamoah who will have to keep a check on his darting runs. The midfield trident will be completed by the Argentine Roberto Pereyra who has been a bright spot in the team this year and will be looking to put up a good display against the club who are reportedly interested in his signature.
Age finally seems to be catching up with Antonio Di Natale whose performances have lacked the sharpness so far this term. Di Natale has managed 11 goals this season including the winner against Milan few weeks back but his overall game looks a bit rusty. He delivered a lively performance in the reverse fixture where he was denied only by the heroics of Buffon. Udinese will be hoping that Di Natale has a simliar outing on Monday as well. Portuguese teenager Bruno Fernandes is expected to start behind him in attack. Having scored 3 goals in 12 appearances, Fernandes has looked quite lively in the games he has started so far and has drawn comparisons with the legendary Rui Costa.
Possible starting XI (3-5-1-1): Scuffet; Heurtaux, Danilo, Bubnjic, Silva; Lazzari, Allan; Basta, Pereyra, Fernandes; Di Natale
Juventus will lineup in their tried and tested 3-5-2 formation with Gianluigi Buffon in goal. The trio of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Martin Caceres (tenth successive game as a starter) will make their ninth consecutive start at the back. The emergency situation in defence after the injuries to Andrea Barzagli and Angelo Ogbonna has not been felt thanks to the solid displays of these three who ensured that Juventus came out unscathed from a congested fixture list with minor hiccups. The fullback positions will be taken by Stephan Lichtsteiner and ex-Udinese man Kwado Asamoah.
Arturo Vidal complained about a thigh strain after the midweek game so he is expected to sit out this game. Paul Pogba will start after his midweek rest and he is expected to be partnered in midfield by the two goal scorers against Lyon: Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio.
Fernando Llorente finally got on the scoresheet after a barren run of eight games and is expected to build on his confident display. He will be partnered by Carlos Tevez as Conte has decided to go in with his first choice pair upfront.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Marchisio, Pirlo, Pogba, Lichtsteiner, Asamoah; Llorente, Tevez
Players to Watch Out For
Roberto Pereyra (Udinese)
The impressive Argentine has been one of the brightest spots this season for Udinese and the Furlans will be hoping for a similar show from him as they host the champions this week. Roberto Pereyra has won plenty of admirers this season including Juventus and he will be looking to put up a confident show in front of his suitors on Monday.
Fernando Llorente (Juventus)
The Spaniard will be looking to continue his goal-scoring run here. He already has fond memories of this fixture as he headed in the winner last time these two teams faced each other. Apart from goals, Llorente will be looking to act as a fulcrum for his teammates to dislodge the opponents challenge.
Udinese 0–2 Juventus
This should be a comfortable victory for the visitors without too much fuss. Udinese do not look equipped enough to possess an answer to the questions thrown at them and could find the Juventus pressure overwhelming.
Blast From the Past
A tight match between the two Bianconeri was settled by a dramatic stoppage time winner by Fernando Llorente in the first meeting between these two sides this season.