Juventus v Torinto Preview
Juventus Stadium, Turin
MATCH IN A SENTENCE: With Torino back in Serie A the Derby della Mola is back on, although Juventus will surely be happier with this news than their local rivals, who have not beaten the Bianconeri in 12 matches and haven’t even scored on the current Scudetto holders in more than a decade.
BREAKDOWN: Torino have won just once since September—a run of nine matches—and are currently 14th in Serie A. Hardly the type of form they’d be hoping to take into one of their biggest matches of the season. And then there is there recently abysmal record in the Derby della Mola.
Nevertheless, Gianpiero Ventura is hopeful his side can get at least a point on Saturday and in his pre-match press conference said he expected “something special” from his players at Juventus Stadium.
“If we didn’t have a chance of taking something out of the game then we wouldn’t even bother showing up,” the Torino manager told reporters. “They are a hard team to face, but the derby is the derby and it is never like an ordinary game.”
But Juventus just might be an extraordinary team. Although they fell to a narrow defeat at the San Siro on Sunday they ran Roberto Di Matteo out of Chelsea with a 3-0 shellacking of the Blues in the Champions League on November 20.
They’ve dropped points on only four occasions in the league to date, and thanks to Inter Milan’s recent stumbles have a four-point cushion on the Nerazzurri and a two-point advantage on second-place Napoli.
With only 10 goals conceded in 14 matches Juventus have the best defensive record in Serie A coming into Saturday’s derby, and their 29-goals scored is second only to Roma’s 32. They’ve also managed to divide the offensive duties throughout the squad, with Fabio Quagliarella pacing the side with six goals.
ESSENTIALS: Arturo Vidal is questionable with a groin strain and could be rested in favour of Paul Pogba on Saturday. Uruguay defender Martin Caceres is also injured, but his place will likely be taken by Giorgio Chiellini, who has overcome a minor knock.
Torino will make several changes to the side that lost 2-0 at Siena, midweek, but Ventura has no new injury problems to worry about.
KEY BATTLE: Kwadwo Asamoah has cooled off somewhat after a blistering start to the season, but he’ll have a winnable matchup on Saturday in the form of Torino right-back Matteo Darmian. Asamoah leads Juventus in assists with four so far this season.
FORMATIONS: Juventus manager Antonio Conte, who is still serving a suspension, will have his assistants deploy a 3-5-2 formation with Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner out wide and Mirko Vucinic and Sebastian Giovinco up top. Ventura will send out a 4-4-2 formation with Rolando Bianchi and Riccardo Meggiorini partnered up front.
BETLINE: Juventus 1/3; Draw 4/1; Torinto 8/1. These sides last met in March 2009 and Juventus prevailed 1-0.