Serie A – Week 9 [29th October 2014] – Stadio Luigi Ferraris
A formulaic if not flamboyant win against Palermo saw Juventus get back on track domestically following two disappointing matches in a row. The Bianconeri were hoping to put their midweek European woes behind them and duly did so with a comfortable 2-0 victory that included a Fernando Llorente goal.
Gianluigi Buffon plays his 500th game in Juventus colours against the side he supported as a child. Andrea Pirlo is fit and may start following a solid performance at the weekend but Max Allegri may opt for the more solid choice of Claudio Marchisio at the base of the midfield 3. Andrea Barzagli and Martin Caceres are both returning to fitness so Angelo Ogbonna will likely sit on the right of the defence with Chiellini and Bonucci filling the other roles. Arturo Vidal, Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez were all instrumental in the victory on Sunday and are expected to retain their places in the starting XI.
3-5-2 : Buffon; Ogbonna, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Asamoah; Llorente, Tevez
Andrea Barzagli, Martin Caceres, Simone Pepe, Patrice Evra and Roberto Pereyra (Doubtful)
Genoa are doing fairly well: they are in 9th position with 12 points. However, there’s some sense of dissatisfaction in the environment, maybe because the bar was set too high in the pre-season or because Giampiero Gasperini is not the friendliest coach. After the 1-1 draw against Empoli, he lashed out against some fans on the stands after the final whistle and vented in the post-game presser. Genoa supporters are usually very loud and passionate, we’ll see what the atmosphere will be on Wednesday night.
They have won three games (against Lazio at home, Parma and Chievo on the road), drew against Fiorentina, Hellas Verona and Empoli and lost against Napoli and Sampdoria. Mixed results that don’t tell much about the real quality of the team and this is maybe part of the problem: the roster has been built very well, but the squad doesn’t seem to have found its real identity yet. They scored only nine goal in eight matches, uncharacteristic for a Gasperini team that usually imposes its will, especially against the lesser teams. They have not that level of confidence yet. They have quality players and it’s probably only a matter of time before they start playing entertaining football, even though they have been able to obtain decent results while being scrappy.
Gasperini has used indifferently 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 (switching also during the games) as Luca Antonelli can play both as LB and LWB and Edenilson can be fielded as RWB or CM. He has used 4-4-2 when the team needed to score, but he has been reluctant to start Alessandro Matri and Mauricio Pinilla together, even if they have often finished games and they are both playing well (the Italian scored four goals, the Chilean three) and they are not incompatible.
Attacking down the flanks is their forte: Diego Perotti and Edenilson combine well on the right and Antonelli is having a strong season on the left. Maxime Lestienne was their most touted purchase of the summer: he showed glimpses of talent, but he’s been inconsistent. Juventus reject Iago Falque hasn’t really played that well, however, this depth allows them to have at least a fresh pacey winger that can hurt the opponent always of the pitch. Gasperini continues to use Juraj Kucka in the offensive trident, a la Hamsik in Mazzarri’s Napoli: the Slovakian is surely a fine player, but I’m not sure that’s his best position.
Gioannis Fetfatzidis (groin) and Tomas Rincon (thigh) won’t be available on Wednesday. The Venezuelan midfielder has been a regular starter so far, providing for muscles in the midfield. Juventus-owned Stefano Sturaro is questionable due to a knee sprain and he hasn’t played in the last two games. If he’s available, Gasp will probably field him along with Andrea Bertolacci in the middle, with Kucka as left-winger. If he’s not, Kucka will slide in the midfield and at that point Lestienne would be favored to start over Falque upfront. Leando Greco could be an option in the midfield if they rotate the players a little bit. They have another defensive midfielder in Franco Mussis but he has played only nine minutes so far.
Facundo Roncaglia-Nicolas Burdisso-Sebastien De Maio appears to be Gasperini’s favourite defense, even though he had to change it often because of injuries and disqualifications (Luca Antonini and especially Giovanni Marchese have been fielded from time to time). It’s a very physical defense, but a little too much prone to blunders. Juventus will have to keep them under pressure and avoid being overwhelmed by their muscularity.
The last games in Genoa have always been battles and you may remember that Juventus prevailed in the past season only thanks to a late free kick by Andrea Pirlo. Juventus will have to be very careful, especially in the midfield, because Genoa thrive when they are able to recuperate the ball quickly and dish the attackers in the open field.
3-4-3 : Perin; Roncaglia, Budisso, Maio; Edenilson, Bertolacci, Sturaro, Antonelli; Perotti, Matri, Kucka
Ioannis Fetfatzidis , Tomás Rincón, Stefano Sturaro (Returning to fitness)