Juventus v Bologna

Serie A Week 7 –  Sunday, 4th October- 12:00 GMT – Juventus Stadium



On Wednesday, Juventus finally delivered the first complete performance of the season: dominance from the start to the final whistle, two goals scored, basically no chances allowed. It was about time. Now it’s just a matter of replicating it over and over again, as the Old Lady has done in previous seasons. The game against Bologna represents an ideal opportunity to start trending in the right direction.

Juventus have collected only two points at the Stadium so far in the season, which is utterly uncharacteristic for a team that built its championship campaign on its home form. The last-minute equalizer by Frosinone was surely hurtful, but things like that happens and overall, Juventus played well in that game, the only sin was to take the foot off the gas in the second half. The performances against Chievo Verona and especially Napoli gave more for concern.

Massimiliano Allegri may have stumbled onto something in the Sevilla tilt: a 3-5-2 that turns into 4-4-2 in the defensive phase. I would agree with something that the coach said in the last presser: 3-5-2 is no longer a security blanket for this squad because as in the “ideal” XI, if that even exists, only six starters have played under Antonio Conte. Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Claudio Marchisio, who occupies a different position now, and Paul Pogba. The ‘offense’ and the ‘flank’ game are new.

The emergency at right back continues: Stephan Lichtsteiner has been diagnosed with arrhythmia, has undergone heart surgery and will miss at least a month. A report says that he is legally forced to wait for six months before returning to action, I hope it is untrue but there is a solid chance we will not see the Swiss-Express for a very long time. To make things worse, Martin Caceres has been suspended by the team for crashing his Ferrari while driving under the influence of alcohol. We can’t catch a break so far this season. Caceres should return after the international break, but he’s not physically reliable and even if he plays with great energy, he is not a ‘pure’ right-back.

Therefore, we are left with 4-3-3 and Simone Padoin as RB, or 3-5-2. One of the two options is more palatable. Claudio Marchisio has a chance to return from his injury, but honestly I do not see any reason to rush him back, especially since Sami Khedira is now available and we have plenty of options in the midfield even without no.8. Hernanes is not totally convincing as deep-lying midfielder yet, but at least he has bounced back from the San Paolo horror show. I think Allegri could be a bit more aggressive in this one: Roberto Pereyra might start in the midfield. Stefano Sturaro has a nagging calf injury, while Mario Lemina is ready to play if the coach rotates the midfield, which is likely, or Paul Pogba is given a day off. Who starts might just be a matter of fitness as Lemina and Pereyra are also said to be carrying slight knocks.

As for the rest of the lineup, Alex Sandro should replace Patrice Evra on the left flank and Juan Cuadrado will start at RWB and continues to be the most important player this season (not starting him against Napoli was a questionable decision). Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala are primed to be the attacking duo: the growth of Simone Zaza allows the coach to field the best pair on paper, without the need to have a change-of-pace guy off the bench.

UPDATE: Allegri has announced that he will field the same XI from the Sevilla game and has ruled out Marchisio, Pereyra and Sturaro.

Probable lineup:

3-5-2: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Cuadrado, Khedira, Hernanes, Pogba, Evra; Morata, Dybala.


Lichtsteiner (heart condition), Mandzukic (thigh), Marchisio (thigh), Pereyra (calf), Sturaro (thigh).


Caceres excluded from squad




Bologna did not have a good start to their 2015/2016 season. They’ve won just the one game, at home against Frosinone, and lost the others against Lazio, Sassuolo, Sampdoria, Fiorentina and Udinese and honestly have shown very little to prove that they will not be a relegation candidate all season long. The early poor performances are understandable as they have changed a lot during the summer. Only a couple of players from last season have remained in the starting lineup: Adam Masina and Marios Oikonomou. Alex Ferrari was there, but he really only won the job from Ibrahima Mbaye this season and it is not yet clear what their best CB pair is, with Sampdoria veteran Daniele Gastaldello, who was acquired last January, certainly in the mix.

Delio Rossi is on the hot seat, for reasons that go beyond the sheer results. Bologna really did not want fire Diego Lopez last season as they would have preferred to drop the axe in the summer after the promotion, and be able to choose virtually any coach they wanted; But as the results were so bad and were starting to jeopardize even a playoff spot, they pulled the trigger. Rossi is lucky to have a big supporter in the new sporting director Pantaleo Corvino, but the owner Joey Saputo, who is now the only one in charge as Joe Tacopina left town, is not known to be a patient man. With the international break around the corner, this is an ideal time for a change at the helm and there is no shortage of good candidates for the job.

Their reinforcement campaign was massive and had some highlights like Mattia Destro, Anthony Mounier, Godfred Donsah and Emanuele Giaccherini. Unfortunately, Destro has struggled and has not had the right service and the former Juventus winger and the Ghanaian midfielder have been slowed down by injuries.

Delio Rossi started with a diamond formation but understandably moved to 4-3-3 as they do not have a Serie A-quality striker to use alongside Destro, while their main purchases in the summer consisted of a bunch of wingers. They have not been able to produce much offense so far and they have scored only three goals, two of which were by Mounier. They’re not really a counterattacking team either as the French forward is the only pacey player in the lineup: folk hero Franco Brienza has never stood out for his speed and they have mostly muscular midfielders.

They are expected to field a grit-and-grind lineup with the seasons revelation Amadou Diawara likely beating out Lorenzo Crisetig to start in front of the defense, Saphir Taider on his right and Luca Rizzo on his left. Gastadello has a chance to make his first start of the season replacing Luca Rossettini. I would not be surprised to see Rizzo used in a more offensive and “tactical” position, with Erick Pulgar or Matteo Brighi starting in the midfield.

UPDATE: Taider has not been called up, so either Pulgar or Brighi will take his spot in the midfield

Probable lineup:

4-3-3: Mirante; Ferrari, Oikonomou, Rossettini, Masina; Pulgar, Diawara, Rizzo; Brienza, Destro, Mounier.


Donsah (thigh), Giaccherini (thigh), Taider.





Stats and Facts

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