Juventus V Olympiakos
Champions League – Game 4 [4th November 2014] – Juventus Stadium
We stand on a great precipice. The next month is the most critical run of this Juventus season to date. While the Serie A fixture list is not necessarily dangerous, though matches versus Torino and Fiorentina lay ahead, the three remaining Champions League games are all must wins for the Old Lady. The good news is that two of the three games are at Juventus Stadium, but Juve will have to travel to Malmo in late November. Of course, the last group stage match is versus Atletico Madrid. Most likely, Juventus will be in a win or die situation there, which should elevate the blood pressure of Juventini worldwide.
Depending on how you look at it, Juventus are either in the midst of a crisis, or turning the corner after a rough patch. Though tomorrow’s result pretty much decides which of these narratives continues on through the following weeks.
One thing to watch out for ahead of this match is both the lack of options, and the breadth of options that Max has. On the one hand, some players are injured or returning from injury and thus can’t play. Specifically, Angelo Ogbonna’s injury throws the backline into flux.
On the other hand, Max does have options. Even if he is forced to use a four man back line, well, that opens up an open role elsewhere in the field. We may see a 4-3-3, or a 4-3-1-2 of sorts. Alvaro Morata’s fine form also influences his decision. Why choose between Morata and Fernando Llorente when you can start both alongside Carlos Tevez?
That said, the big question is if Ogbonna starts. Giorgio Chiellini and Leo Bonucci will start in front of Gigi Buffon, that, we know. Although, we could see Chiellini at left back in a four man backline. Padoin could play at left back too, although of course Kwadwo Asamoah is first choice there.
Stephan Lichsteiner will start at right wing back or right back, and from there things are clearer. Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio are starting in midfield. Barring a big shift in formation, one of Arturo Vidal or Andrea Pirlo will start. That’s also an interesting choice as Marchisio can fill both of their roles.
Finally, up top we know Carlos Tevez is starting, and it’s widely reported that Morata is joining him. It’s possible to see someone else up top, but this is depending on the formation and not on Allegri’s preference over who will start: we know his preferred two for Tuesday.
This is the single most important game of the season, so far. There most likely will be games which have greater weight, but so far no one match has had as much of an influence on the season as tomorrow’s game will. Fino alla fine, forza Juventus.
3-5-2 : Buffon; Ogbonna, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Marchisio, Pogba, Padoin; Morata, Tevez
Andrea Barzagli, Martin Caceres, Simone Pepe, Patrice Evra.
It’s tough to place a finger on Olympiakos. They kicked our ass last week, and they beat Atletico 3-2. However, they also lost to Malmo 2-0. That said, we know they will play quickly against Juventus, as they did in the first match. They will look to move the ball to Juve’s half with speed, and they will look to hit Juve’s defense when they are not totally organized. Basically, the game plan they used to beat Juve last time.
While Olympiakos are not in first place in Greece -undefeated PAOK are – they are still in rather fine form in the league. They’re five points off of first, but their only lost is to PAOK and they recently beat Panthinaikos in the “Aikos Derby.” That’s my name for the derby.
Olympiakos have a few injured players and they may be missing two starters from the last match: Alberto Botia and Alejandro Dominguez. Neither are critical absences for the side, but both men played well last time out so it will hurt Olympiakos. Ibrahim Afellay, who didn’t have a great game when he came on as a sub versus Juve, could start if Dominguez misses the match.
4-4-1-1 : Roberto; Masuaku, Abidal, Botía, Elabdellaoui; Kasami, Milivojevic, Ndinga, Maniatis; Afellay, Mitroglou
Jorge Benitez, Alejandro Domínguez and Alberto Botía