Juventus V Chievo

Serie A – Week 20 [Sunday, 25thJanuary – 14:00 GMT] – Juventus Stadium



Juventus were crowned winter champions at the half way point of the season; now they have to do it all over again, starting with this weekends visit from Serie A strugglers, Chievo Verona.

The Bianconeri had a brief dip in form through December but returned to winning ways in the new year with back to back victories against Hellas in the Coppa Italia and Serie A. Last weekends win against the side from Verona saw Juve stretch their undefeated home run to two years, their last league defeat at the J-Stadium coming at the hands Sampdoria way back on 6 January 2013 [33 wins and 4 draws].

There were some concerns about Gigi Buffon and Andre Pirlo who both came down with flu-like symptoms midweek but both players are believed to have returned to training. Juve were further bolstered by the return of Andrea Barzagli who completed full training sessions midweek.

Juventus are expected to lineup much the same as in last weeks 4-0 win over Verona. Gigi Buffon will start in goal with Stephan Lichtsteiner and Patrice Evra playing in the full-back positions. Sky Sport Italia predicted a starting XI that included Andrea Barzagli but it’s more than likely he’ll feature from the bench if he does indeed play.

Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini are most-likely to play in the centre-back positions with Claudio Marchisio expected to fill in for Andrea Pirlo in midfield. Paul Pogba and Roberto Pereyra will sit either side as part of the 3-man midfield with Arturo Vidal behind the front duo of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente.

Predicted Lineup

4-3-1-2 :  Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Marchisio, Vidal, Pogba; Pereyra; Tevez, Llorente


Kwadwo Asamoah and Romulo  (Both undergone knee surgery), Angelo Ogbonna (Ankle), Andrea Pirlo (Flu – Recovered), Luca Marrone.




Do you know about those prejudices against Chievo Verona? The ones saying that they are utterly defensive-minded and, in the end, incredibly boring? It turns out that they are mostly true, even though Rolando Maran was considered an offensive-minded coach earlier in his career. But, truth be told, they get things done when it counts as, since they finished their great climb up until Serie A, they failed only once to escape relegation.

Predictably, they have the worst attack in the League, as they scored only fourteen goals so far. On the other end, they have conceded only 22 goals, ranking fourth in Serie A, behind Juventus (9), Roma (14), Torino (21) and tied with Lazio and Milan. Their matches are very uneventful. They are in 17th position, two points above Cagliari that occupy the final relegation spot. On the road, they aren’t particularly bad: they have collected 11 points in nine matches, winning thrice, drawing twice and losing four matches.

They play a basic 4-4-2. The only unavailable player is the Bostjan Cesar. Maran is set to field Nicolas Frey, Dario Dainelli, Andrea Gamberini and Ermin Zukanovic in the defense. Both fullbacks are capable of playing as centre-backs and this tells the whole story about the solidity of their back four. With the return of the starter Ivan Radovanovic from an injury, the coach has a number of options at his disposal in the midfield: Hetemaj-Izco-Radovanovic-Birsa is the most likely combo, Izco-Cofie-Radovanovic-Birsa the most defensive one, which can’t be discarded in this scenario, Schelotto-Izco-Hetemaj-Birsa the most offensive solution. Maxi Lopez has just left without being replaced, but Maran can use any combination of Alberto Paloschi, Riccardo Meggiorini and Sergio Pellissier. Ruben Botta has spent time has second-striker too, he could be a tactical weapon against Pirlo. Of course, it’s always possible that they’ll alter their usual scheme going with a more defensive solution: Maran is quite familiar with 3-5-2.

Their two main weapons, if we can call them that way, are playing on the flanks (but they don’t have a tower waiting for crosses in the box) and feeding the strikers with long balls as they try to beat the offside trap: Paloschi is very good at doing that and Pellissier is experienced. Their midfield is very dynamic, they are mostly hustlers and there isn’t much creativity there. All things considered, the biggest challenge for Juventus will be finding the first goal.

They are in a complicated situation considering their position in the table, but they are not yet in “desperate” mode. In the first match of the season, Juventus dominated in all phases of the game, scoring early with an own-goal by Cristian Biraghi, but failed to close the game and Chievo did have a chance to equalize with Maxi Lopez but Buffon was, as always, superb.

Predicted Lineup:

4-4-2: Bizzarri, Frey, Dainelli, Gamberini, Zukanovic; Hetemaj, Izco, Radovanovic, Birsa; Paloschi, Meggiorini


Bostjan Cesar