Juventus Stadium, Turin
Saturday 18th April, 2015, 18:45 GMT
Considering his side are so far clear in the title race and with a Champions League quarter-final coming up three days later, Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri chose to rest some of his star players for their domestic game last weekend. But the policy came unstuck because, despite being away to cash-strapped Parma who are rock bottom of the table, Juve suffered a 1-0 defeat a only their second league loss of the season.It meant Juvea s advantage at the top of the table, as they close in on a fourth consecutive title, was cut to a justa the 12 points by new second-placed club Lazio, who have taken advantage of Romaa s disappointing form since the turn of the year.And with the leaders playing the second leg of their Champions League tie against Monaco on Wednesday, travelling to Monte Carlo with a 1-0 lead, Allegri may well be tempted to rotate again with such a healthy position in the title race.
A victory against Juve would give Lazio a sniff of a chance of catching his side over the remaining seven games. Defeat for Juventus would mean a nine-point gap, which would probably still be big enough, but the Roman club have won eight league games in a row and now have a completely clear run until the league campaign ends on May 31 a a week before they and Juve meet in the Coppa Italia final. If, as anticipated, Juve remain in the Champions League, Allegri will still have to juggle his priorities and so it makes sense to get the points in the bag while he can and ensure the title four-timer is a done deal as soon as possible.Juventus were last beaten at home in the league way back in January 2013 and while Lazio are a fast-improving side, they do not look capable of ending that fantastic sequence just yet.
Team news and tactical brief
Juve have the chance to respond to one of the biggest upsets in Serie A history in last week’s 1-0 defeat to Parma when the champions play their top-of-the table encounter against Lazio. Massimiliano Allegri’s side saw a 20-match unbeaten league run ended at Stadio Ennio Tardini, but returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Monaco in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals first leg.
Paul Pogba and Kwadwo Asamoah are still out of the side, so but Andrea Pirlo may well start to get some game time in his legs. Fernando Llorente replaces Alvaro Morata alongside top-scorer Carlos Tevez, after that front-two failed to make their mark against Parma. Juventus may have been looking sluggish over their last couple of games, but were on an impressive winning run themselves and remain a solid side, especially at home. On the other hand, Lazio are on the ascendency and will be looking to beat their city rivals Roma to second place, with a result here only strengthening their position and claim to the bragging rights.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-1-2):Buffon(Gk);Padoin, Barzagli, Bonucci, Evra; Sturaro, Marchisio, Vidal; Pereyra; Tevez, Llorente
Until early February, Serie A had threatened to become a replica of last season with Juventus on top, followed by Roma and Napoli and a then seven-point gap to Sampdoria in fourth. Lazio were sixth following a home defeat to Genoa. Lazio’s run, in which they have conceded only two goals, combined with the indifferent form of Roma and Napoli, has completely changed that. Their main target remains a second-placed finish which would guarantee a place in the Champions League group stage next season, their first appearance in the competition since 2007/08. A win on Saturday would also equal Lazio’s club record of nine consecutive Serie A wins, achieved under Sven-Goran Eriksson in the 1998-99 season.Lazio’s charge up the Serie A table has given a new twist to the championship and a win at leaders Juventus in Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash would add further spice.
Stefano Pioli’s side travel to Turin on the back of eight successive league wins which lifted them into second place, ahead of neighbours AS Roma. Another win on Saturday would cut Juve’s lead to nine points with seven games left, just enough to keep Massimiliano Allegri’s team looking over their shoulders as they chase a league, cup and Champions League treble. Lazio are without Stefan de Vrij and Marco Parolo, both injured in their last fixture against Empoli. They are likely to be replaced by Dusan Basta and 20-year old native Roman Danilo Cataldi respectively. Having only conceded twice in their eight-match winning run, Lazioa s backline might not be as worried about their oppositiona s strike force, who failed to find the net against bottom of the table Parma and only managed one goal against Monaco, as they would have been a few weeks ago. Lazioa s own front-three, however, each bagged a goal last week.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1):Marchetti(Gk); Basta, Cana, Mauricio, Lulic; Biglia, Cataldi; Mauri, Candreva, Anderson; Klose
- Juventus are unbeaten in their last 20 league games against Lazio (14W 6D).
- Juventusa unbeaten run of 20 league games (14W 6D) came to an end last weekend against Parma.
- Juventus were behind for 30 minutes against Parma a previously they had been trailing only for 31 minutes overall in the whole 14/15 campaign.
Players to Watch Out For
Arturo Vidal (Juventus)
Arturo Vidal was back to his brilliant best against Monaco on Tuesday. Compared to his high standards, the Chilean has looked a bit rusty this season but seems to have rediscovered his form at the crucial juncture of this season. He scored the decisive penalty against the French opposition and will look to carry on his impressive work against second place Lazio tonight.
Felipe Anderson (Lazio)
Felipe Anderson sounded confident ahead of this top-of-the-table clash with Juventus and will be looking to emulate that on the pitch as well. The Brazilian has combined for 16 goals in his last 11 games (9 goals + 7 assists). He could be decisive for the Biancoceleste as they look to close the gap on leaders Juventus.
Juventus 1a 1 Lazio
The most unexpected result happened in the previous round as Juventus lost to Parma, but the Bianconeri were probably thinking ahead to Monaco and used their advantage in the league to instead focus on Europe. Last week Lazio achieved their 8th consecutive victory and, as a result, climbed up to second place in Serie A. This will be their toughest test so far in the second half of the season, but three affordable games lie ahead, which means they could be happy with a draw here. Juventus could afford to lose one game in their path to the Scudetto, but unfortunately for Lazio, Allegri will make sure there will be no drop in concentration levels. Winning is not necessary for Juve, but obtaining all 3 points would also send a message to Monaco ahead of the second leg.
Blast From the Past
Fernando Llorente was Juventus’ saviour as the Serie A leaders came from a goal down with 10 men to salvage a 1-1 draw at Lazio last year in this fixture.