Empoli v Juventus

Serie A Week 12 –  Sunday, 8th November- 14:00 GMT – Stadio Carlo Castellani



Juventus come off two precious results, but the team play has not really improved. The moments when the squad look really dominant are rare and there are always periods of time when it is lackadaisical, sits too deep and concedes some chances. They played a good first half in the Derby, but Torino were clearly way more motivated after the intermission, they scored the equalizer and only a miracle by Gianluigi Buffon denied them the double. Juventus then re-took control of the game and eventually won it at the buzzer, but it is concerning that a fifteen-minute pause almost cost them the game.

Borussia Moenchengladbach were more aggressive than Juventus to start the midweek game, they simply looked sharper in the first half and deservedly took the lead. Luckily enough, we still have great footballers who can make plays out the blue and we tied. Just as Juventus finally started performing really well at the beginning of the second half, Hernanes made that silly tackle that cost us a likely win. Juventus need to play with more energy for the whole ninety minutes, taking the foot off the pedal only after closing the game and have to stop shooting themselves in the foot. They should not be content with just hanging in games, they should be fiercer and go for the jugular right from the start.

Stephan Lichsteiner has returned and we are all very happy that things turn out for the best after that scary situation. His return marks the end of the fluid 3-5-2/4-3-3 that was a pretty clever way to field all the best players at the same time, but we never played too well with it and we knew it was only a stopgap. However, we are in mid November and we still do not know what the most suitable tactic is: this is less than ideal.

I know Massimiliano Allegri loves the three-man midfield, he wrote his essay to get the coaching license on this topic, but when one of our big three midfielders is missing, he should try a plain and simple 4-4-2 with Alex Sandro as left winger, maybe just as an in-game adjustment. I think it would help Alvaro Morata, who is not a fan of his work rate as winger, and Mario Mandzukic, who would receive more crosses.

Kwadwo Asamoah and Roberto Pereyra remain out with hamstring ailments: they are expected to be back after the break. Sami Khedira has trained with the group on Friday but he will not be risked if he is not 100 percent. Stefano Sturaro or Mario Lemina would take his spot if he can not play: Sturaro is probably a little higher in the pecking order. There is a chance Paul Pogba is rested, but I think it will depend on the availability of the German world champion: I do not think the coach will reiterate the mistake made at Sassuolo, where he trotted out an inexperienced midfield.

Lichsteiner should be able to start, however Martin Caceres is fit and could replace him. One between Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini should be given a day off, with Andrea Barzagli starting. The battle between Alex Sandro and Patrice Evra on the left is wide open.

Allegri will choose between 4-3-1-2 with Hernanes, his pet formation that was used from the start in the last two games, or 4-3-3 with Juan Cuadrado and Morata wide. It seems that Mario Mandzukic would have better chance of starting with the second lineup, while Morata and Paulo Dybala would pair up in the first one. The doubt is really between Cuadrado and Dybala: Allegri likes to have one game-changer come off the bench.

Probable lineup:

4-3-1-2: Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Barzagli, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Sturaro, Marchisio, Pogba; Hernanes, Mandzukic, Morata. 


Pereyra (hamstring), Asamoah (hamstring).






Empoli have been feistier than most anticipated. They lost a ton this summer as Maurizio Sarri, Mirko Valdifiori and Daniele Rugani left, but somehow they have been able to cope, while most expected them to sink. The credit goes to the new coach Marco Giampaolo, who really fell from grace three-four years ago and was gravitating in the lower leagues, who put aside his beliefs and his tactics to choose the path of continuity.

They are not as pleasant in terms of style as they were last season, but they should be good enough to avoid the drop and this should not be taken for granted as they have a really young roster. They have collected 14 points in 11 games and they are in the middle of the pack: considering that they have lost their mastermind and two of their three best players, this is a big success. We will see if they will able to sustain it or if the other low table teams will catch up.

They still have some problems here and there. For instance, they have yet to find the ideal replacement for Valdifiori: Assane Dioussé has been a surprise, he plays with a lot of confidence and has good technical means, but he has struggled and made big mistakes in the last few games. Raffaele Maiello, who should start in this one, is a steady player with some experience, but in his previous seasons in Serie B he has never really played as deep-lying playmaker. Ronaldo, who was probably their designated player for that role when they decided to cash in on Valdifiori, has not been able to crack starting lineup.

As they often do, they have given playing time to some youngster and they are starting to flourish. Leandro Paredes was a mysterious object in Rome, but he has now found his niche as box-to-box midfielder and has a lot of quality. Rade Krunic has been a decent replacement when Riccardo Saponara was suspended and they are grooming him very nicely for the future, as their star seems destined to leave at the end of the season; they have also used him in a two-trequartista look to add creativity in the attack. Marcel Buchel brings the muscles and is very useful now that their veteran starter Daniele Croce is out with a calf injury. Buchel is a slightly favourite to start over Paredes.

Empoli will be proactive and play possession football, because they are not particularly accustomed, or good, at defending. Juventus will have to pay attention to Saponara, who has simply been en fuego with four goals and three assists in eight games, and in general to Empoli’s rapid play in the attack. Juventus can not come out flat in this game but it would be costly.

Probable lineup:

4-3-1-2: Skorupski; Laurini, Tonelli, Costa, Mario Rui; Zielinski, Maiello, Buchel; Saponara; Maccarone, Pucciarelli.


Croce (calf), Mchedlidze (hamstring), Cosic. 







Stats and Facts

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Infographics from www.sporticos.com