Juventus Stadium, Turin
Sunday 13th Dec, 2015, 20:45 GMT
Juventus have won five games on the trot but face a test of character when they host high-flying Fiorentina this weekend. La Viola will be hoping their in-form strikers can make the decisive difference against the rejuvenated Old Lady. Fiorentina have already scored 30 goals this season with Nikola Kalinic and Josip Ilicic sharing the bulk of them. Juventus, meanwhile, have not been so prolific with Paulo Dybala leading from the front but Mario Mandzukic, Alvaro Morata and Simone Zaza have been struggling to get the goals. Both sides are unbeaten in the last five games but Juventus have won all their games in this period. After a stuttering start to the campaign, Allegri’s men have reacted like champions. However, they need to get a positive result in this genuine six pointer against their old rivals.
Both sides made it through to the knockout stages in Europe midweek although Juventus’ loss to Sevilla away means they will face a tougher opponent in the round of 16. Fiorentina needed a positive result against Portuguese side Belenenses and they got the three points thanks to a Khouma Babacar goal. Max Allegri refused to dwell on the loss and quickly shifted the focus on the Fiorentina game as he understands the importance of the clash as they continue their surge up the table. Fiorentina will be looking to set a goalscoring record this Sunday along with keeping pace at the top of table.
Team news and tactical brief
Max Allegri has the majority of his squad available so predicting a formation or lineup can be a challenge here as Juventus have switched back and forth between 4-3-3 and 3-5-2, sometimes during an ongoing match. Paul Pogba will be paid close attention by either Vecino or Badlej so the Frenchman will expect to have a busy game as usual. Even if Juventus started the season poorly, no one can write them off at this stage. Neither team will define their season in this game but no one will want to lose, especially in this grudge match.
The home side will miss Hernanes, Martin Caceres, Sami Khedira and Roberto Peyreyra through injury. Fiorentina have struggled when they have been pressed high up the pitch as noticed in the game against Empoli. Allegri will no doubt ask his strikers to choke the supply lines to midfield and put pressure on Tatarusanu who has looked shaky while using his feet.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2):Buffon(Gk); Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichsteiner, Asamoah, Marchisio, Pogba, Sandro; Dybala, Mandzukic
Fiorentina have been in sensational form this season and there is no reason why they cant keep on playing like this till the end of the season though it will be vital to avoid injuries to key players in the team. The Scudetto is a realistic target although Sousa will be keen to cut down on the defensive mistakes.Federico Bernardeschi has earned rave reviews for his displays this season while the midfield duo of Matias Vecino-Milan Badelj has been the spine of this free flowing side. Paulo Sousa has a full squad to select from with the exception of the injured Jakub B aszczykowski, and will most likely pair Borja Valero and Josip Ilicic behind Nikola Kalinic up front.
Davide Astori is having a fine season so far but will face a lively Dybala who has been in scintillating form. Giuseppe Rossi is unlikely to have any impact in this game as he struggles to return from his knee injury. Mario Suarez has struggled with the tempo Fiorentina play with and is likely to be on the bench. Sousa’s 3-4-2-1 formation allows Fiorentina players to play a fluid passing game and Kalinic will be ready to pounce on any mistake from the Juve defenders. Fiorentina fans will be hoping that the frustrating yet brilliant Josip Ilicic might be the man to decide this tight contest in Turin.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-4-2-1):Tatarusanu(Gk); Roncaglia, Rodriguez, Astori; Alonso, Vecino, Badelj, Bernardeschi; Valero, Ilicic; Kalinic
- Juventus and Fiorentina are undefeated in their last 5 matches in Serie A.
- Juventus are undefeated in 29 of their last 31 matches against Fiorentina in all competitions.
- If Fiorentina can score on Sunday night, they will have scored in every match since the home tie with Cagliari in April last year, a total of 23.
Players to Watch Out For
Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
The young Argentine is finding his feet in Turin justifying his big price-tag and netted a superb goal against Lazio last Friday.
Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina)
Bernardeschi has all the attributes to become a decisive player if he maintains the attitude and form he has shown so far. He is a versatile player and has done justice to various roles in Sousa’s system.
Juventus 2a 1 Fiorentina
The crisis is seemingly over for Juventus. The home side will be looking to up the intensity in this fixture from the first whistle. They can stretch the away sidea s defence on the wings, which could prove to be fatal for Facundo Roncaglia, who is expected to come up against the Argentine striker Dybala. Juventus have more experience of these big games but expect Fiorentina to try to take control of the game.
Blast From the Past
Juventus moved to within a point of a fourth consecutive Serie A title as Carlos Tevez’s double helped them come from behind to beat Fiorentina.