Juventus Stadium, Turin
Sunday 23rd August, 2015, 19:45 GMT
Italian Champions Juventus F.C. take on Udinese Calcio in their opening home game of the 2015-16 Serie A season. Looking to win their 5th Serie A title in a row, the Old Lady will be looking to start off their campaign on a winning note against an Udinese side that finished just above the relegation zone in 16th position last season. With the departure of stalwarts such as Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal from his squad, Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri faces an uphill battle to retain the Italian Serie A title.
Team news & Tactical brief
Juventus have been absolutely ravaged by injuries before the start of the new campaign, with several first team players ruled out of the opening match of the season. Midfielder Claudio Marchisio, who suffered a muscle injury in training a week ago, has been ruled out of action for 3 weeks. He will miss the Bianconeria s opening two encounters against Udinese and A S Roma.
In another major blow to Juventus, striker Alvaro Morata tore his calf in training a fortnight ago which will keep him out of action for a month. He is expected to return to training after the International break.
The Old Ladya s injury crisis was further exacerbated by the injury suffered in pre season by new signing Sami Khedira. Khedira injured his thigh in a friendly against French club Marseille and is set to spend two months on the sidelines as a result of that.
Injuries have forced Allegri to abandon his favoured 4-3-1-2 formation and play a 3-5-2 instead, owing to a lack of personnel. Allegri is expected to field new signings Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala up top, who both scored in the 2-0 Italian Supercup win against Lazio. Mario Mandzukic had an injury scare in mid week but is expected to recover in time to start against Udinese.
In some good news for the club, veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini is expected to recover in time from an injury which kept him out of action for a month and start against Udinese alongside Bonucci and Caceres.
Possible starting lineup (3-5-2): Gigi Buffon; Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Martin Caceres; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Stefano Sturaro, Paul Pogba, Roberto Pereyra, Patrice Evra; Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala
It has been a difficult summer for Udinese following the departure of manager Andrea Stramaccioni from the club. After finishing a disappointing 16th in the league last season, Udinese have gone for a complete overhaul of their squad.
Highly rated Colombian striker Duvan Zapata was signed on loan from Napoli in the summer and is expected to lead the line against Juventus alongside club legend Antonio Di Natale.
New signings Ali Adnan, Edenilson, Manuel Iturra and Ivan Piris are all expected to start against Juventus following their impressive showing in the Coppa Italia last week.
Highly rated Brazilian midfielder Marquinho, who was signed from AS Roma last week, is expected to feature on the bench for his new club.
Possible starting lineup (3-5-2): Orestis Karnezis; Thomas Heurtaux, Danilo, Ivan Piris;Edenlison, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Guilherme, Bruno Fernandes, Ali Adnan Kadhim; Antonio Di Natale, Duvan Zapata.
- Udinese and Juventus have met 40 times so far in Serie A: the Old Lady leads by 24 wins to 7.
- The last time Udinese beat Juventus away from home in the Serie A was in January, 2011 when they won 2-1.
- Juve have had the better of Udinese in their last 6 of their last 7 league games, keeping a clean sheet in four of those
Players to watch out for
Mario Mandzukic (Juventus)
Croatian International Mario Mandzukic signed for Juventus on a four year deal worth a 19 million from Club Atletico de Madrid. Mandzukic is a striker with European pedigree having scored a bucketful of goals in Germany and Spain. He is expected to lead the line for Juventus against Udinese alongside Paulo Dybala. Mandzukic is an excellent target man up top who can hold the ball well, is good with both feet and terrific in the air. Having being given the unenviable task of filling the shoes of former fan favourite Carlos Tevez, Mandzukic will be eager to get on the scoresheet and start his season with a bang.
Duvan Zapata (Udinese)
Colombian striker Duvan Zapata ended his disappointing stay in Naples when he signed up with the Udinese on a 2 year loan deal. Having scored a mere 11 goals in his 2 year spell at Napoli, Zapata will be looking to prove his detractors wrong when he lines up against Champions Juventus in the opening match of the 2015-16 Serie A season.
Juventus 2 Udinese 0
Despite several new signings and mounting injuries, Juventus will coast through to register a comfortable win against an inexperienced and untested Udinese side.
Blast from the Past