Palermo V Juventus

Serie A – Week 27 [Saturday, 14th March – 17:00 GMT] – Stadio Renzo Barbera




Rotation will be the order of the day when Juventus travel to the Renzo Barbera to face a Palermo side that are undefeated in their last 10 home matches.

The Bianconeri ground out a hard-fought victory against a surprisingly stubborn Sassuolo side with Paul Pogba’s wonderful strike making the difference, late on. It was another less than convincing performance, lacking in ideas and creativity, despite much of the regular first team making the starting XI. It was suggested some of the players were  fatigued from playing so many games in such a short space of time but Allegri was quick to dispel this idea.

“We must be prepared tomorrow,” Allegri told the media ahead of the Palermo game.

“Especially because they play the game with great intensity. We played on Monday, it’s been five days so I absolutely don’t want to hear about tiredness. I don’t want to hear about Dortmund, because if a team can’t play every four or five days it means that we’ve trained badly, or don’t have the fitness to play in a great team.”

Juve may be sitting 11 points clear at the top of the table but the title race is far from over, especially given the fixture list for the coming weeks, beginning with tomorrows visit to Palermo, swiftly followed by the Champions league tie against Dortmund.



Long-term absentees Kwadwo Asamoah and Romulo are still a few weeks from returning to training, while Andrea Pirlo is hoping to recover from an ankle injury in time for the midweek game in Germany. Martin Caceres’ season may be over as he underwent ankle surgery last week and isn’t expected to return to action for at least ten weeks. Kingsley Coman has a shin contusion and doesn’t make the squad while Paul Pogba is suspended leaving Allegri will limited options in midfield.

“In midfield I have four players: Sturaro, [Claudio] Marchisio, [Arturo] Vidal and [Roberto] Pereyra. I don’t have many.” Allegri told reporters earlier today.

The lack of options in the centre of pitch could mean Juve revert to the tried and tested 3-5-2 in an effort to control the game while containing Palermo’s attack-duo of Paulo Dybala and Franco Vazquez. Alternately, given Palermo’s strong home record this season (they’ve lost just once, 4-0 to Lazio), attack might be the best form of defence in the shape of a 4-3-1-2 formation.

Gigi Buffon should return in goal after recovering from flu, while Andrea Barzagli could make his first start of the season alongside Angelo Ogbonna and Leonardo Bonucci. Allegri dropped some hints as to his starting XI which include a possible start for Stefano Sturaro, with Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio making up the 3-man central midfield. Stephan Lichtsteiner and Patrice Evra will be vital against Dortmund so we may see Simone Padoin and Paolo De Ceglie playing in the full-back positions.

Roberto Pereyra has been hit-and-miss in recent games but he’s the only option to play behind the strikers which will likely be Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente.

Predicted Lineup

4-3-1-2: Buffon; Padoin, Barzagli, Ogbonna, De Ceglie; Vidal, Marchisio, Sturaro; Pereyra; Tevez, Llorente


Asamoah and Romulo (Recovering from surgery), Pirlo (ankle), Caceres (ankle), Coman (Doubtful)








Palermo are in mixed form: they have won one of the last five matches (an impressive dismantling of Napoli) and they have lost to Lazio and Inter and drawn against Empoli and Cesena. They are in the middle of the pack: they are just few points away from officially avoiding relegation, but they are nothing more than outsiders in the race for a Europa League spot. They are not in a very stimulating position of the table, but I’m sure that the demanding president Maurizio Zamparini will find a way to keep them focused.

At home, they are as good as anybody: they have collected 26 points in 13 matches and they have been defeated only by Lazio back in September. In this season, Paulo Dybala and Franco Vazquez have blossomed into top players. The Argentinian striker has scored twelve goals and assisted his teammates seven times, while the advanced midfielder has tallied seven goals and nine assists. They are easily the best one-two punch in the League and their combination of dribbling skills, pace, technique and long-race shootings poses a serious threat to any defense. Moreover, they can also beef up the attack by bringing Andrea Belotti off the bench when they need to score and he has grown into a late goal specialist.

While they are scintillating up front, their defending has often held them back. They have conceded 39 goals: their goal different is -1 and this speaks volume about their defensive woes. Only four teams have conceded more goals than they have and three of them are likely to get relegated. Losing Ezequiel Munoz in January, failing to replace him (Danilo Ortiz has yet to make his debut) certainly didn’t help. Due to various injuries and suspensions, Giuseppe Iachini has recently ditched 3-5-2 because they literally weren’t able to field three valuable centre-backs and opted for 4-3-2-1 with the electric Robin Quaison pairing with Vazquez behind Dybala. It appears that he’ll confirm this scheme: Roberto Vitiello is battling with Andrea Rispoli for the starting RB position (the latter is more offensive) and the returning Achraaf Lazaar is seeking to retake his spot over Fabio Daprelà on the other flank. Claudio Terzi and Sinisa Andelkovic are set to partner up in the middle. Should Iachini use his old tactic, Vitiello would play in the back three and Quaison would be benched.

Enzo Maresca has been primed to return to the starting XI for a couple of weeks after a serious ankle injury: if he’s not ready yet, Mato Jajalo will replace him as deep-lying playmaker/pivot in front of the defense. The Croatian midfielder isn’t as good as a distributor as the former Juventus, but he’s still a solid player. The (departing) captain Egdar Barreto and the sneaky cutter Luca Rigoni are slated to complete the midfield.

Juventus will have to be prepared for Palermo’s strong flank game, even though they don’t have a physical presence in the box when Belotti isn’t on the pitch, and to their counter-attacks: Dybala and Vazquez are devastating when they operate in the open field and the others have learned to feed off from them. On the other hand, their defense isn’t very trustworthy and will suffer if put under pressure.

Probable Lineup

4-3-2-1: Sorrentino; Vitiello, Terzi, Andelkovic, Daprelà; Rigoni, Maresca, Barreto; Vazquez, Quaison; Dybala.

Injured players:

Gonzalez (knee), Morganella (knee).