Stadio Ennio Tardini, Parma
Saturday 11th April, 2015, 18:00 GMT
Top meets bottom in Serie A this weekend, as runaway leaders Juventus make the trip to crisis-hit Parma. A fourth successive Scudetto is almost in the hands of the Bianconeri and a victory would see them open up a commanding 17-point lead over Roma in the table. Parma face an uncertain future after they were declared bankrupt last month and entered administration, having run up huge debts. The two-time UEFA Cup winners must hope that new investors step forward to save them from going out of business but, despite not being paid for months, Roberto Donadoni’s side have certainly not thrown the towel in. Parma remain bottom of the table and look destined to remain there, but they secured a first Serie A victory since January by beating Udinese 1-0 on Wednesday. That long-awaited win came on the back of a 1-1 draw at Inter last Saturday and Donadoni expressed his pride over the manner in which his players have gone about their business.
While Parma ponder what the future may hold, these are exciting times for Juventus as they attempt to win a famous treble. The Turin giants have all-but wrapped up a fourth successive Serie A title as they sit 14 points clear at the top of the table and can look forward to a UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg tie at home to Monaco next Tuesday.Juve will also face Lazio in the Coppa Italia final in June after beating Fiorentina 3-0 in their semi-final second leg to seal a 4-2 aggregate victory in midweek.
Team news and tactical brief
Parma fans must be wondering what has happened to their club in the past year, as their very existence beyond this season is in doubt. The Gialloblu had enjoyed a great season and finished sixth in Serie A, but due to an unpaid tax bill they were banned from competing in the Europa League. Following a summer of upheaval their form deteriorated and they lost eight of their opening nine league games, although the huge scale of their problems had yet to emerge. There had already been reports that a number of players had not been paid, which led to high-profile stars like Antonio Cassano leaving, before they were eventfully declared bankrupt by a court in Italy three weeks ago. They have been allocated a 5m (A?3.6m) by the Italian league to complete the season and it appears that it will be their last in the top flight for the foreseeable future. Despite their problems, they have managed to hold Roma and Inter Milan to draws away from home, while they picked up their first win 11 games by beating Udinese on Wednesday.
Parma will be up against it this weekend and in a game captain Alessandro Lucarelli will miss due to suspension. Fabiano Santacroce should be Roberto Donadoni’s man to replace the suspended Alessandro Lucarelli, with Andrea Costa starting as well. Silvestre Varela will retain his starting spot after netting the winner against Udinese in midweek.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Mirante(Gk); Cassani, Santacroce, Costa, Gobbi; Nocerino, Jorquera, Mauri; Ghezzal, Belfodil, Varela
There just seems to be no stopping Juventus at the moment and they are absolutely flying as the season enters it’s final stretch. They are 14 points clear at the top of Serie A and only an unthinkable collapse would prevent them from winning the title for a fourth consecutive season. It is not just in the league where they are enjoying success this campaign, as they booked their place in the Coppa Italia final on Tuesday evening, by coming back from a first-leg defeat to earn a thumping 3-0 victory over Fiorentina. They could very well be on for a treble, as Monaco await them in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, with the first leg of that clash set to take place in Turin week. Their recent form has been nothing short of sensational, with six wins from their last six matches. They haven’t even conceded in any of those games and against Parma that run seems likely to continue due to the lack of goals scored this season by their opponents.
Juventus are expected to rest a number of key players ahead of their European clash with Monaco, so the likes of Carlos Tevez and Andrea Pirlo will probably not be risked. Stephan Lichtsteiner may also sit the game out after missing their Coppa Italia victory with a bruise to his right thigh, while Paul Pogba remains on the sidelines. Due to Tevez’s absence, Alessandro Matri could keep his place up front, while Fernando Llorente will also be battling for a starting spot.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2):Buffon(Gk); Ogbonna, Bonucci, Chiellini; De Ceglie, Marchisio, Vidal, Pereyra, Padoin; Llorente, Coman
- This will be the 46th Serie A clash between these two sides: Juventus have won 21 times, Parma nine.
- The Emiliani and Juventus have shared the points 15 times so far: the Bianconeri are the side Parma have drawn the most against in Serie A.
- Parma have earned only two points over their last seven Serie A clashes with the Bianconeri, conceding 2.4 goals per match in these games.
Players to Watch Out For
Jose Mauri (Parma)
Mauri is one of the few players capable of providing the Ducali with some form of creative spark in midfield. There is little doubt he will be a Serie A player next season.
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
Juventus’ visit to Parma on Saturday might be a moving experience for Gianluigi Buffon, for it might be the last time he faces former club Parma at the Ennio Tardini.
Parma 1a 1 Juventus
After landing a point at the Giuseppe Meazza against Inter, Parma caused another upset by beating Udinese in the midweek fixture that covered one of the two games they had in hand. Juventus showed incredible mettle to secure a 3-0 win at Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia, succeeding despite applying some rotation. Parma have unexpectedly hit form in the final part of the season, showing great pride and honouring the tournament until the end. At the same time, their distance from safety and the financial state of the club are taking all enthusiasm away from these good results. Juventus are not a team that could underestimate Parma, but the Crociati did take points from their title rivals Roma recently.
Blast From the Past
Paul Pogba scored the only goal of the game as Juventus beat Parma 1-0 on 2013.