Juventus V Genoa
Serie A – Week 28 [Sunday, 22nd March – 14:00 GMT] – Juventus Stadium
Juventus will be without Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba for the visit of Genoa as they look to avenge their only loss of the season.
The Bianconeri are 14 points clear and seemingly have one hand on the title but injuries have taken their toll in recent weeks, with Paul Pogba being the latest casualty. The French midfielder will miss the much of the remainder of the season after picking up a hamstring injury in the 3-0 win against Dortmund midweek.
Claudio Marchisio was suffering from a bout of flu but has recovered in time to make the squad along with Stefano Sturaro who may get his chance to shine following Pogba’s injury. “Sturaro can fill Marchisio’s role in front of the defence, or can play where Pogba does” Allegri said of Italy U21 midfielder just last week.
The injuries in midfield may force Allegri’s hand once again, meaning 3-5-2 will be the starting formation in place of 4-3-1-2. Buffon will play in goal with a back three of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and possibly Angelo Ogbonna who may play in place of Giorgio Chiellini.
The midfield will choose itself given the injury problems with Claudio Marchisio, Arturo Vidal and one of either Roberto Pereyra or Stefano Sturaro on the left. Stephan Lichtsteiner and Patrice Evra will likely play as the full-backs while Alvaro Morata is suspended so Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez will start up front.
3-5-2: Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Ogbonna; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Marchisio, Pereyra, Evra; Tevez, Llorente
Asamoah and Romulo (Recovering from surgery), Pirlo, Caceres, Pogba
In the last six matches, Genoa have collected two wins, three ties and one loss, but it’s hard to draw any conclusion as the results have been very inconsistent. For instance, they deservedly beat Lazio and Hellas Verona and stopped Fiorentina (1-1), but they also stumbled against Empoli (1-1) and the last performance against Chievo Verona (0-2) was awful. It’s a rollercoaster ride.
For most part of the season, they have been really good: they are in seventh position, eight point clear from the crosstown rival Sampdoria, which would qualify to Europa League as it stands. Genoa need to pick the pace if they want to make a real run at the sixth place. They need to improve their home record (4W, 6D, 4L), but they’ll face Juventus on the road, where they have been fairly good (5W, 5D, 3L).
Two key elements of the squad are suspended for this match: the Venezuelan midfielder Tomas Rincon and former Juventus bust Iago Falque. The always tactically eccentric Gian Piero Gasperini often used a weird lineup with Rincon as RWB as of late, so he’ll return to a more normal formation without him, with two real energetic wing backs, Edenilson and Zakarya Bergdich.
Replacing Falque (six goals, three assists on the season) is trickier from a “philosophical” standpoint: the coach could choose a dynamic player like Maxime Lestienne (who hasn’t matched the pre-season expectations) or Diego Laxalt and keep using Diego Perotti as falso-nueve, which has been their signature skill lately. Or he can field a real centre-forward (Marco Borriello or Leonardo Pavoletti), tweaking their recent strategy. Or he can complete the trident with Juraj Kucka as CAM à la Hamsik (the returning Tino Costa or Rolando Mandragora would fill in the midfield if that’s the case). Whatever he picks, I think there will be a drop-off in quality.
The rest of the team is just solid overall. Facundo Roncaglia, Nicolas Burdisso and Sebastien De Maio, three physical centre-backs whom I don’t think are that good taken singularly, have benefitted greatly from playing with each with continuity. Andrea Bertolacci has deservedly become a regular start and the standout goalkeeper Mattia Perin has saved day in a spectacular fashion several times.
Even when they don’t have a tall presence in the box, the flank play have always been very strong. Whatever the combination on the two wings is, they create many chances by crossing or cutting from a wide position. The move to Genoa has re-energized M’Baye Niang (three goals since January) and Perotti, even if he doesn’t score a lot, is their leader in the pitch. Surely defending a trio of wings in constant motion, should they field Lestienne, would be a bigger challenge for Juventus than man marking a true centre-forward. They like to play with a high defensive line and maybe Juventus could take advantage of that like they did in Dortmund. But, especially, Genoa like to play football and they don’t just park the bus and wait for the right opportunity to counter so it should be a fun match.
3-4-3: Perin; Roncaglia, Burdisso, De Maio; Edenilson, Kucka, Bertolacci, Bergdich; Niang, Borriello, Perotti.