Sassuolo V Juventus
Serie A – Week 7 [18th October 2014] – Stadio Città del Tricolore
The international break was entirely uneventful for Juventus. The drama continued from the victory versus Roma, and Arutro Vidal’s knee was again a topic of concern and rumor. So, nothing has changed.
Unfortunately, the time during the break wasn’t long enough to see out a few Juventus injuries. Andrea Barzagli, struggling with injuries for months, is still out. Martin Caceres, his replacement, is out for the rest of the month at least. Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Angelo Ogbonna will start in Caceres’ place. Leo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini should join him, and Gigi Buffon will be in goal as always.
Reportedly we will see Stephan Lichsteiner and Patrice Evra out wide. I have wondered in the past here what Asamoah’s status in the LWB pecking order was. As Asamoah played 90 minutes versus Roma, our greatest adversary, and Evra is starting against Sassuolo – though he has played more overall – I believe Asamoah is the preferred LWB in general, but Allegri may be trying to preserve him so he can also substitute in central midfield at times. Just speculation, but it’s been something I have thinking about.
In the midfield we see what resembles the traditional starting three, with one catch: in place of Arturo Vidal we will see Arturo Vidal lookalike/playalike Roberto Pereyra. GdS is also saying that Andrea Pirlo will start along with Paul Pogba, so Claudio Marchisio is getting a rest.
Finally, up top we will probably see Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez. Tevez has been phenomenal this season, just as he was last season, but Llorente has been in quite poor form. It’s surprising to see Llorente starting over Morata due to ‘Nando’s poor form and Sassuolo’s general stature. Regardless, we’ll see if Llorente can break out of his funk.
3-5-2 : Buffon; Ogbonna, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Pereyra, Pirlo, Pogba, Evra; Llorente, Tevez
Andrea Barzagli, Martin Caceres, Luca Marrone and Romulo
As it happened in the past season, Sassuolo got off to a terrible start. There are some positives and some negatives. Barring the 7-0 collapse against Inter, their defense hasn’t looked particularly bad, helped by the return of Francesco Acerbi and by the purchases of Sime Vrsaljko and Federico Peluso. Thanks to an improved defense, they managed to salvage three points, even if they didn’t score.
The negative side is that they are struggling to score. Not having their biggest playmaker Domenico Berardi for three matches due to a silly elbow against Juan Jesus didn’t help: Sassuolo scored three goals in total, Berardi scored two, Zaza one, back in the first game. For the first time in his young career, Berardi is set to play against the team that owns half of his rights (he missed the two clashes in the past season due to suspensions).
Something seems off at Sassuolo in this start of the season: they look a bit disjointed and they are not the fun offensive-minded team that plays at a high rhythm they proved they can be in some stretches of the past season and in Serie B. Maybe Di Francesco, despite the constant use of 4-3-3, is taking more care of the defensive phase and he doesn’t want the squad to be unbalanced, but this appears to be hurting them on the other end. We’ll see in the next weeks if they drought was caused by the absence of Berardi or by something more structural.
The roster improved compared to the past season. They have stronger goalkeeper in Andrea Consigli, two good fullbacks and they added Saphir Taider to bolster the midfield. They redeemed Simone Zaza and Nicola Sansone, showing their financial strength and their ambition. It’s a young, almost fully Italian team on the rise, but they haven’t found their identity in this season yet.
On Saturday, they’ll be without Gianluca Pegolo, due to a fractured tibia, and Federico Peluso, who is suspended for this game: Alessandro Longhi will replace him. It’s strange that in this season Di Francesco hasn’t fielded Simone Missiroli consistently since he has been a key member in the past season and beyond. He often picked Davide Brighi and Davide Biondini over him, a hint of the defensive turn the team has taken. However, they missed Missiroli’s playmaking.
There aren’t many doubts about the lineup. Luca Antei and Francesco Acerbi are battling for the starting spot in the middle of the defense along with Paolo Cannavaro, Vrsaljko is favored over Marcello Gazzola at RB, Biondini is set to start over Brighi and Missiroli. Upfront there’ll be the magic Berardi-Zaza-Sansone trio, which remains extremely dangerous even if they haven’t found the back of the net very often.
It will be interesting whether they’ll play head-on, as it would be in their historic identity, risking to concede a lot, or if they’ll be more conservatives, as they have been so far, even if this attitude hasn’t really paid off.
4-3-3: Consigli; Vrsaljko, Cannavaro, Acerbi, Longhi; Taider, Magnanelli, Biondini; Berardi, Zaza, Sansone.