Stadio Olimpico, Rome
4th November, 2015.
Friday night’s Serie A action sees two teams on the opposite end of the spectrums of the form table, as Juventus travel to the Stadio Olimpico to face off against SS Lazio on Friday night.
Juventus have picked up the pace after a rather bad start to their Serie A campaign, while Lazio have fallen off the mark, going down to the 10th spot on the Serie A table.
Lazio will be playing in front of their home crowd and it will be interesting to see if manager Stefano Pioli makes any noticeable changes to the team, in order to arrest the freefall that the club from the Italian capital is experiencing right now.
Meanwhile, Massimiliano Allegri seems to have started working his magic after an initial stutter this season. Juventus are again back in the running for qualifying for the Champions League and would be looking for nothing short of three points from this game to continue their push up the Serie A ladder.
Team News & Tactical Brief
The Eagles seem to have had their feathers trimmed this season, as they are currently at the relatively low 10th position on the Serie A table. A bad start to the season followed by a nightmarish November has seen Lazio pick up just one point from a possible 12 last month.
The mood at the Lazio camp would not be exactly great right now, with rumours doing the rounds that manager Stefano Pioli’s head might be on the chopping block if his team do not get some sort of a result out of this match.
However, it would be unfair to blame the coach for everything that’s going wrong and a lot of the responsibility does fall on the team for not applying themselves properly on the pitch. On Friday night though, they would have enough motivation, as one of the top teams in Europe comes visiting.
Juventus likes to keep possession of the ball and play through the middle, which would suit Lazio just fine, as they will be looming to put pressure on the Bianconeri midfield and defence,and trying to snatch the ball from them. This counter-attacking style will be extremely helpful with the presence of players like Antonio Candreva and Senad Lulic on the flanks.
Both the wingmen like to send a barrage of crosses in, which would be even more beneficial while employing a counter-attacking technique, as both striker Filip Djordjevic and No. 10 Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are good at winning aerial duels, and could put the Juve defence under a spot of bother, if the crosses are aimed in properly.
Midfielder Lucas Biglia will be looking to dictate the play from his usual role in the defensive midfield, and feed the wingers or the forwards when required.
However, Lazio does have a habit of giving away cheap free kicks in and around their box, and this might just end up costing them, while employing the counter-attacking tactic, especially because Juventus are expert at playing the ball around in the opposition area,
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Marchetti; Radu, Maurucio, Gentiletti, Basta; Parolo, Biglia; Keita, Milinkovic-Savic, Candreva; Djordjevic.
For Juventus, it is a matter of going through the motions and getting a fifth successive win in all competitions, as they head towards Rome for the match against Lazio. After a poor start to the season, Manager Massimo Allegri has been able to turn things around in the month of November, in which they have remained unbeaten.
After the departure of key players like Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, and Carlos Tevez, the Bianconeri took some time to find their feet with 10 new signings in the summer. But as the season wore on, they have started to gel well with one another, as Allegri and his side have started to rise up the Serie A table, step bu step.
However the biggest factor in this match could be the absence of Juventus’ main creative influence Paul Pogba, who is suspended for the match. Defensive midfielder Sami Khedira has is doubtful for the match with an injury, adding to Allegri’s woes.
Due to the absence of his two midfield generals, Allegri is expected to switch to a fluid 3-5-2 formation, which will shore-up the Bianconeri midfield. Juventus are not altogether unfamiliar with this formation, and with Stephan Lichtsteiner and Alex Sandro operating down the flanks, they can also double-up in defence, to a 5-3-2, when they come under heavy fire from the home side.
22-year-old Mario Lemina is expected to join the three-man midfield with Stefano Sturaro and the experienced Claudio Marchiso, while the defensive trio of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, and Georgio Chiellini man the defence behind them.
Paulo Dybala is sure to start on Friday night, with either Mario Mandzukic or Alvaro Morata partenering him in attack. The Croatian international is the more likely to start, as he is the man in better form, while the Spaniard could start from the bench.
Probable Starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli; Sandro, Lemina, Marchisio, Sturaro, Lichsteiner; Dybala, Mandzukic.
- In spite of their torrid start, Juventus have conceded just 11 goals this season. Only top-two clubs Napoli and Inter Milan have conceded fewer in the Serie A this season.
- Juventus are on a four-match winning streak, and also have had an unbeaten November.
- Lazio are on a five-match winless run, and have managed to lose four of them.
- Lazio manager Stefano Pioli has never tasted victory against a Juventus side, in his days as a coach.
- Juventus have not tasted defeat at the hands of Lazio in 12 years.
Players to watch out for
Lucas Biglia (SS Lazio)
Biglia has been their best player so far, and if Lazio are to pull of a win,m or at least a draw in this fixture, it looks like captain Lucas Biglia will have to pull them through it all. Being the creative head in the middle of the park Biglia will also help Parolo in providing some cover for the Lazio defence, against a menacing Juve attack, while constantly looking to feed the wingers to launche counter attacks for Lazio.
Claudio Marchisio (Juventus)
Marchisio might not be the captain of the team, but he certainly plays a similar role from the midfield, especially after the departure of Andrea Pirlo. With Pogba absent and Khedira doubtful, his role at the heart of the Juve midfield would be even more crucial in dealing with the pacey Lazio attacks. Also the fact that he would have to shepherd the two 22-year-olds makes it even more imperative that Marchisio brings his A-game to the Stadio Olimpico.
SS Lazio 0-2 Juventus
Even though Pogba is suspended, it seems unlikely that Lazio would be able to trouble Juventus in any substantial manner. Also with an influential playmaker like Marchisio and a tireless box-to-box runner like Sturaro in their ranks Lazio might just find it a tad bit difficult to produce the goods against the Bianconeri.