Hellas Verona v Juventus
Serie A – Week 38 [Saturday, 30th May – 17:00 GMT] – Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi
There’s very little at stake for Juventus in the final Serie A match, a week before the much anticipated Champions League final. The coach Massimiliano Allegri stated that they would like Carlos Tevez to be the top scorer of the League, but given how much he rested over the last few weeks, they wouldn’t be very disappointed if he didn’t win the symbolic award. A shoot-out between the two contenders Tevez and Luca Toni would be riveting.
This is the final tune-up before the Berlin game and the rotation will be moderate. In the pre-game presser, Allegri said that they don’t want the players who are one yellow card away from disqualification to risk losing the Super Coppa, which should be played in the summer this year (against Lazio). Therefore Giorgio Chiellini, Arturo Vidal, Roberto Pereyra and Stefano Sturaro are likely to be benched (Paolo De Ceglie is in the same condition but I doubt he’ll be at Juventus in August).
If he strictly followed this principle, the coach would have a strange squad at disposal, very limited in the midfield and especially with no options at CAM. So it’s possible that Pereyra or Sturaro will make an appearance anyway and then it’ll be up to them to be cautious, and, no disrespect, but having them sidelined wouldn’t be as bad as having Vidal or Chiellini suspended.
The main goal is to avoid what happened in the last game when Andrea Barzagli suffered a thigh problem. Barzagli has been only a borderline starter this season because of his health issues, but not having him at disposal on June 6 would deprive Allegri of the possibility of using a three-man defense (the first Bayern Munich game showed that it’s not effective, but if you are up one goal with few minutes to go, that’s a no brainer). A rectus femoris strain usually heals in three weeks, let’s see if they’ll be able to speed up the recovery.
Juventus can’t afford to lose any starter: it’s very easy to suffer an injury so deep into the season because of the wear and tear. Leonardo Bonucci and Stephen Lichtsteiner have a lot of mileage on them (4,5k and 3.9k minutes this season), Patrice Evra and Andrea Pirlo are aged. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on the bench. If Pereyra and Vidal was indeed preserved, it would mean that Simone Pepe or Kingsley Coman would be forced to play out of position in the hole. Fernando Llorente is the favorite to start over Alvaro Morata. A typical three-man attack with both Spaniards sitting is a possibility. Rubinho, Luca Marrone. Kwadwo Asamoah aren’t in the squad list for unknown reasons.
4-3-1-2: Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Ogbonna, Evra; Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio; Pereyra; Llorente, Tevez.
Barzagli (thigh), Caceres (ankle), Romulo (thigh).
All in all, Hellas Verona had a pretty boring season: last season’s campaign was an exploit and it’s understandable that they have taken a step back since they had much less talent on the roster this year. The have been solid, but they didn’t have an explosive offensive talent like Juan Manuel Iturbe or an interesting reclamation project like Romulo. They had a bunch of veterans: some matched expectations, some were a little below average. Nico Lopez, who replaced Iturbe, had some good moments but didn’t break out the way they hoped and also Campanharo, a possible new Jorginho, didn’t pan out. However, only once they slipped towards the dangerous zones of the table, but they brilliantly recovered and navigated with ease through the final stretches. They are sitting comfortably in thirteenth position with 45 points.
While they don’t have any more team goals to achieve, they do have one more objective they are pushing for: they want Luca Toni to win the scorers’ chart. He has a one-goal advantage over Tevez and Mauro Icardi going into the final match day. That’s not surprising because Hellas Verona is the only team that really plays for one man, since Udinese have slowly shifted away from Antonio Di Natale.
Therefore we can expect tons of crosses and long balls, with every member of the squad committed to feeding the centre-forward in the box, which is really no different from what they’ve been doing all season long. Toni has never had the speed and the agility, but he’s powerful, he constantly outmuscles defenders, he’s always aware of where the goal and the goalkeeper are, he has a bag of old man’s tricks he can use in every situation and he mastered the art of scoring while out of balance.
It’s the end of the season, so it’s normal that there are some bruises here and here. Artur Ionita, an early spark that quickly faded, is definitely out with a thigh injury, Munir Obbadi, Rafa Marquez and Eros Pisano are dealing with minor thigh problems but they might play through them. Guillermo Rodriguez is the most likely replacement for the Mexican CB if the physical issue ultimately sidelines him.
Anyway, Mandorlini has plenty of option to mold his usual 4-3-3, also thanks to the stud Jacopo Sala, who can cover the whole right flank. It looks like he’ll play in the defense, with Alessandro Agostini on the other wing. But Sala might move to the midfield if Obbadi wasn’t ready to play. Juanito Gomez seems to have recovered from a minor injury and he’s slated to start up front, probably sharing time with the Brazilian trickers Fernandinho, who’s been getting loud cheers from Bentegodi in his rare appearances.
It’s the final game of the season so it might be the right opportunity to give a chance to some youngsters who haven’t got much playing time like Pierluigi Gollini, Ivan Martic, Mattia Valoti and Frederick Sorensen. We’ll see if Mandorlini will rely on them.
4-3-3: Rafael; Sala, Moras, Marquez, Agostini; Obbadi, Tachtsidis, Hallfredsson; Juanito Gomez, Toni, Jankovic.
Ionita (thigh), Pisano (thigh).