Udinese V Juventus
Serie A – Week 21 [Sunday, 1st February – 14:00 GMT] – Stadio Friuli
The game versus Parma in the Coppa Italia was close. Luckily, the babyfaced assassin Alvaro Morata scored a last minute winner to advance Juventus. More importantly, the team was spared a taxing extra time period. This is good, as Juventus have more important competitions to deal with than the Coppa Italia. For example, Serie A.
Luckily Max Allegri is a good coach and he rotated plenty of the starters out for the Parma game. Unfortunately, Arturo Vidal will probably miss this game due to the knock he suffered on his knee. But, everybody else – barring the long term injuries – is available. That said, don’t expect to see the 4-3-3 that struggled versus Parma.
Gianluigi Buffon will celebrate a belated birthday with the start in goal. Meanwhile, Martin Caceres should start at right back. Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini should start at centerback. And Patrice Evra is of course expected to start at left back.
In midfield, there are two notable absences: the aforementioned Chilean, and Claudio Marchisio, who is suspended for the match. Roberto Pereyra and Simone Padoin are to start in midfield, with Pereyra liking playing in the attacking mid role. Perhaps Pogba could play there. Obviously, neither Andrea Pirlo nor Simone Padoin will. Though that would be mildly humorous.
Finally, the classic duo of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente should start up top. Llorente played the full match versus Parma, but that was his first game since the Napoli match two weeks ago. For what it’s worth, he had an assist in both games. Still, Llorente has not been as strong as he was in his debut season with Juve, so perhaps he can turn that around in the second half of the domestic campaign.
4-3-1-2 : Buffon; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Pirlo, Padoin, Pogba, Pereyra, Tevez, Llorente
Kwadwo Asamoah and Romulo (Both undergone knee surgery), Arturo Vidal (Bruised knee)
Udinese have been pretty inconsistent in this season: they got off to a brilliant start, then slumped a little. They are in 9th position with 27 points. They have a solid squad, but they need to raise the level of their performances if they want to have a chance of being sucessful in the Europa League race, considering that Inter, Milan and Fiorentina are also involved.
Andrea Stramaccioni has displayed glimpses of acumen, but also stuttered due to some rookie mistakes. In some matches, the team didn’t seem to have the right game plan or to be up to the task. All in all, he’s doing a far better job than last year’s Francesco Guidolin, whose fire and grip on the team was gradually fading, but he hasn’t done enough to bring the club to the next level. He could be the right man in the future, but the jury is still out.
His choices are extremely limited for this match: Panagiotis Kone is suspended, Maurizio Domizzi is out with an ankle sprain, Alex Geijo has a bummed thigh, Emmanuel Badu and Molla Wague are participating to AFCON 2015, Lucas Evangelista and Alexis Zapata are partaking to the South American Youth Football Championship.
He has used 3-5-1-1 recently and all indications point to that: even if he’s been reluctant to do it, he’ll be forced to field Bruno Fernandes (brilliant youngster, but he’s a liability defensively) in the midfield, as Giampiero Pinzi is nursing a calf issue (he should make the squad list, but he’s unlikely to play). The right-back turned intro centre-back Ivan Piris will complete the three-man defense composed by Danilo and Thomas Heurtaux (all three haven’t been immune to blunders). The stout Allan and Guilherme will take care of the defensive tasks in the middle, while Silvan Widmer and Gabriel Silva (or Giovanni Pasquale) will be the wing-backs.
Udinese rely heavily on the flanks, especially on the up-and-coming Widmer, but of course the biggest threats are the two strikers Cyril Thereau, a creative CAM/second striker despite being 1.89 cm tall who has already scored seven goals so far, and Antonio Di Natale, nine goals and still one of the best open field playmakers. Like in the Guidolin era, the counter-attacking game remains their forte.
At home, they have a record of four wins, three draws and three losses. They haven’t been particularly sharp in big matches: they have lost against Fiorentina (3-0), Milan (2-0), Roma (0-1), while they have beaten Lazio early in the season and Inter. In the first match, Juventus took care of business at home (2-0), thanks to early goal by Tevez and with Marchisio closing the deal late, in a game where Stramaccioni’s squad were pushed around and didn’t pose many threats to Buffon’s goal.
3-5-1-1 : Karnezis; Piris, Danilo, Heurtaux; Widmer Allan, Guilherme, Fernandes, Pasquale; Thereau; Di Natale
Maurizio Domizzi (Ankle sprain) Alex Geijo (Thigh)
Emmanuel Badu and Molla Wague are participating in the AFCON 2015
Lucas Evangelista and Alexis Zapata are partaking to the South American Youth Football Championship.