Manchester City v Juventus
Champions League Game 1 – Tuesday, 15th September – 19:45 GMT – Etihad Stadium
Juventus will be hoping to bounce back from their worst start in the clubs illustrious 118-year-history when they travel to Manchester, to face a City side that are undefeated so far this season.
It’s been a dismal start to the season, whichever way you look at it. Two losses in the first two weeks of Serie A…..and just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Juve were a goal down inside the opening 5 minutes against a Chievo team that sit pretty at the top of the table, while the Bianconeri languish just outside the relegation zone. Perhaps the only saving grace from last weekend’s eventful match were the promising performancees from new signings Hernanes, Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado.
My biggest concern watching the match against the Flying Donkeys was the utter lack of cohesion between the players, including the experienced ‘heads’ who were at the club last season and long before. The defence looked unsure of itself while the midfield lacked any real shape and the forwards looked rushed and hurried, desperate to create something against a resolute Chievo defence. On the plus side, there’s no denying the potential and raw talent is there, although it may take time until we see this team deliver at its best.
Next up, the Bianconeri are in Manchester, preparing for tomorrow night’s Champions League opener against a Man City side who are yet to concede a goal this season. Getting a result may be a tough ask and yet this team may just have enough to cause City problems, and perhaps even spring a surprise or two.
Coach Max Allegri gave a typically confident and optimistic press conference earlier today, but he dropped no hints about how he might line his team up on the night.
“We have to play with intensity, courage and technique to improve our confidence,” Allegri explained.
“It has been lowered because of the results, and we have to reverse the trend. At the moment there are a thousand questions about the team, because the results have not arrived.
“We can only find out who we are by playing, we don’t know if we can start talking about the Scudetto or the Coppa Italia, that doesn’t make sense.
“We have to be calm, and work, and see things in a different way. In football, the mood depends on results.
“On Saturday [in the draw with Chievo] I felt sorry for the lads, the team did a lot of things right, aside from being ruthless.
“At the moment we’re not scoring enough goals, it takes us a lot of chances to get one, when we start scoring the games will be different.
“I have five midfielders available tomorrow. We’ll wait & see if I go with three or four – I won’t be revealing my team.”
It’s tough to predict just how Max will field his squad, especially given that Juan Cuadrado has been one of the few positives this season and Allegri needs to find a way to play him. I can’t see us going away from home in a big game like this and deployin a 4-3-3, which means we’ll either see a 3-5-2 or Allegri’s favoured 4-3-1-2.
Sky Italia have been reporting Juve using a 3-5-2 with Buffon fit and ready to start in goal. In front of him, we’ll likely see Caceres, Bonucci and Chiellini with Lichtsteiner and Evra as the full-backs. Pogba and Hernanes are almost certain to start in the middle of the pitch with either Lemina, Pereyra or Sturaro making up the midfield. Up front, Mandzukic will probably be given the nod with Alvaro Morata alongside him.
3-5-2: Buffon; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichsteiner, Pereyra, Hernanes, Pogba, Evra; Morata, Mandzukic.
Khedira (thigh), Asamoah (knee), Marchisio (thigh)
4-2-3-1: Hart; Sagna, Mangala, Kompany, Kolarov; Toure, Fernandinho; Navas, De Bruyne, Nasri; Bony.
Zabaleta, Fernando, Clichy, Delph, Agüero