Juventus v Torino

Serie A Week 11 –  Sunday, 31st October- 17:00 GMT – Juventus Stadium



Just as it looked like Juventus were ready to go on a run, here comes the stinker. The approach in the Sassuolo game was simply inexcusable: the guys were too careless and nervous and got outplayed in the first half. The gem by Nicola Sansone and the Giorgio Chiellini red card did the rest. The reaction in the second half was decent, but not enough to produce a goal and, as we have seen multiple times this season, Juventus’ territorial dominance tends to be sterile and fails to create clear-cut chances.

The players and the coach surely share the blame for the debacle. Sometimes the squad looks too discombobulated for a team with so many quality players in the roster, so I would say that, while you could argue that there has been some bad luck too, the issue starts with the coaching. The players often seem to go on the pitch without a clear idea of what to do and of what the game plan is and improvise or constantly try to create a play on their own. At times, they do not look very motivated and locked in mentally. Gianluigi Buffon and Patrice Evra have basically called out their teammates on Sunday: I surely respect those two a lot, but what does that say about the authority of the coach in the locker room?

At this point, the Turin derby becomes crucial for both the season and Massimiliano Allegri. I do not think that a firing is imminent, even though the whispers are starting to get louder, but if you Juventus fail to beat Torino and Empoli, what else is left to do to try to right the ship? After ten games, this is the worst start since 1969/1970 and the Ferrara and Delneri teams outpaced this one, with way worse rosters. The gap from the top of the table is now 11 points. We know how football works, the coach is the first one who pays the price.

Allegri is keeping it cool in the eye of the storm, but the decision to sit Sami Khedira while Claudio Marchisio was sidelined by the flu is a sin. I get the explanations, but you do not rest players on the road against a good team that was undefeated at home. You simply do not. He should have planned it in advance and benched the German world champion against Atalanta, if he thought fatigue could be an issue. The rotation needs to be more scientific, sometimes he gives the impression that he is punting games.

Martin Caceres and Claudio Marchisio have been called up and they are available, Giorgio Chiellini is suspended. The coach will opt for a full-fledged 4-3-3, with Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci as centre-backs and either Simone Padoin or Martin Caceres as right back. If the Uruguayan defender is fit enough to play 90 minutes, he will get the start. If Marchisio is still sick, there are plenty of options to replace him, starting with Mario Lemina. Alvaro Morata is primed to be in the XI after being benched for two games in a row, with Juan Cuadrado on the other flank. The final spot in the attack is really anybody’s game: Mario Mandzukic has been getting a lot of minutes because the coaching staff wants him to regain the right condition after the injury, but he has not looked good; Dybala was a star against Atalanta but was just ok against Sassuolo; Simone Zaza has not featured much in the most recent games. I will go with the safest choice, Mandzukic.

Probable lineup:

4-3-3: Buffon; Caceres, Barzagli, Bonucci, Evra; Khedira, Marchisio, Pogba; Cuadrado, Mandzukic, Morata. 


Lichtsteiner (heart condition), Pereyra (hamstring), Asamoah (hamstring).


Giorgio Chiellini





Torino had a very good start, but then they slumped. They have not won in the last four matches: two defeats on the road against Carpi and Lazio and two home ties against Milan and Genoa. Their recent play has been uninspiring. On the road, they have beaten only Frosinone on the seasonal debut, then one draw and three losses. Yet, they approach the Derby with a three-point lead over Juventus, which is very unusual in the recent history of the two franchises.

So, what happened after the hot start? First of all, they got really banged up. They have lost Nikola Maksimovic and Danilo Avelar, who are arguably two of their best five players, and they have not returned yet. They have had some minor injuries here and there that messed up with the rotations. Secondly, Fabio Quagliarella, hands down their best offensive weapon, has not scored in six matches and, while Andrea Belotti and Maxi Lopez are decent strikers, they have trouble finalizing when Quaglia is not on form.

Despite their recent issues, they remain a very good team, even if they are not a typical Giampiero Ventura team. Other versions of Torino used a faster pace because they had quicker forwards: only Josef Martinez is a speedster, but they do not field him a lot. The flank game is the one element that adds some juice to their offense: the right wing has been a strength with both Bruno Peres and Davide Zappacosta, but Cristian Molinaro, who has filled in for Avelar, is not much of a threat. Ventura has been able to reinvent himself multiple times and this time is trying to be successful with a grit-and-grind squad that has more quality in the midfield than it does in the attack. Daniele Baselli has been an excellent addition: while he has been highly touted since his Cittadella days, he had never lived up to the expectations; this year, however, he is playing great and has already scored four goals, including a couple of stunners: he just needed the right coach to bloom. On the other hand, Daniele Padelli is not having a good year, so maybe Juventus can exploit that.

As you would expect, their 3-5-2 is very stout. They have experience and physicality in the back with Kamil Glik, Nicola Moretti and Cesare Bovo. They have many choices in the midfield: they can either use a pretty technical formation featuring both Marco Benassi and Daniele Baselli or a more muscular one with Afriyie Acquah. They paid good money to snatch Benassi from Inter, but strangely enough they prefer to have come off the bench. The coach likes to a defense-first player anchoring the midfield: Giuseppe Vives will start this one as Alessandro Gazzi is ailing. The only doubt about the lineup is who will be Quagliarella’s partner upfront: Maxi Lopez is the favourite over Belotti at this stage. Their best players Peres, Quagliarella and Baselli have been rested on Sunday, that is how much Derby means to them.

Probable lineup:

3-5-2: Padelli; Bovo, Glik, Moretti; Bruno Peres, Benassi, Vives, Baselli, Molinaro; Maxi Lopez, Quagliarella. 


Farnerud (knee), Maksimovic (foot), Avelar (knee), Jansson (knee), Obi (thigh), Gazzi (knee), Martinez (knee).






Stats and Facts

Infographics from www.sporticos.com