15/04/13 – Lazio vs Juventus (Serie A)

Lazio vs JuventusVladimir Petkovic is without several first choice defenders, with Abdoulay Konko, Andre Dias and Bruno Pereirinha injured and Giuseppe Biava suspended, so Alvaro Gonzalez is likely to continue at right back. His place in midfield will be filled by either Stefano Mauri or Honorato Ederson. Lazio have struggled without Miroslav Klose in attack following the German’s long injury layoff, but after appearing from the bench in midweek the forward may return to the starting XI.

With Lazio having knocked Juventus out of the Coppa Italia, and their Champions League dream ended by Bayern Munich, Antonio Conte only has Serie A to play for and can field his strongest side. Fabio Quagliarella and Mirko Vucinic are the current incumbents of the forward positions.

Lazio will be desperate to recapture the form they showed prior to Klose’s injury, having won just 1 of the 6 league games without him. This run has seen them drop out of the Champions League places, and with Roma and Inter Milan not far behind there is a chance they could fail to qualify for Europe all together. For Conte the league is not yet assured. Having suggested that Italian football needs to adapt to challenge in Europe, it is surely in Juventus’ interest to secure the title as quickly as possible to allow for experimentation towards the end of the campaign… (Read more)


10/04/13 – Juventus vs Bayern Munich (Champions League Quarter Final)

Juventus vs Bayern MunichJuventus’ task his made harder by the suspensions to Arturo Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner, although Paul Pogba and Mauricio Isla should be able deputies. Antonio Conte faces the usual dilemma in attack having failed to settle on a favoured partnership all season. The selection of Fabio Quagliarella and Alessandro Matri was a surprise and a failure, so Mirko Vucinic should start in place of one of them to offer greater movement.

Bayern Munich were dominant in the first leg and should be disappointed not to take a larger lead to Turin. The injury to Toni Kroos would usually be a cause for concern for Jupp Heynckes, but the performance of Thomas Muller in his place would suggest Kroos won’t be missed.

As mentioned in the first leg preview (found here), and largely supported by the performance, Bayern appear to have the perfect shape and selection to counter the threat posed by Juventus. Both managers are loyal to their preferred systems so a repeat is expected, although Conte will surely need to make allowances for his side’s failure to get into the game in Germany. This analysis will consider how Juventus can alter their system to stifle Bayern and cause them problems in attack… (Read more)

02/04/13 – Bayern Munich vs Juventus (Champions League Quarter Final)

Bayern Munich vs JuventusIt says a lot about the strength of the Bundesliga leaders that Bayern Munich are likely to drop three players that contributed 7 goals and 4 assists in their 9-2 victory over Hamburg at the weekend. With Jupp Heynckes resting a number of key players, Claudio Pizarro, Xherdan Shaqiri and Arjen Robben are expected to find themselves benched in favour of Mario Mandzukic, Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller. Elsewhere Daniel van Buyten may return at the expense of Jerome Boateng in defence in what would be Heynckes first choice XI.

Juventus manager Antonio Conte can also choose his first choice side for what is likely to be the tie of the round.

This is arguably Juventus’ first real test under Conte and will put their domestic success into a European context. The blip against Arsenal aside, Bayern have looked all-conquering for much of this campaign and are many people’s favourites for the competition… (Read more)

30/03/13 – Inter Milan vs Juventus (Serie A)

Inter Milan (3-4-2-1) vs JuventusIn the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Inter Milan manager Andrea Stramaccioni selected an ambitious 3-4-3 shape that succeeded in bringing Juventus’ 49 game unbeaten run in the league to an end. It must be tempting for Stramaccioni to attempt the same tactic, but their 4-1 Europa League victory over Tottenham may give him a dilemma. Inter have appeared keen on playing a 4-3-1-2 shape for some time, and their victory over Spurs may have been their best performance in the formation this season. Therefore Stramaccioni can stick or twist – look to build on a strong performance in a familiar system, or switch back to the game plan that worked once before.

As Stamaccioni will have to choose between Inter’s customary 4-3-1-2 system or reverting to a 3-4-2-1 shape, both options will be assessed… (Read more)

01/03/13 – Napoli vs Juventus (Serie A)

Napoli vs JuventusSecond hosts first in Serie A with Napoli looking to reduce Juventus’ six point lead.

Walter Mazzarri will decide between Pablo Armero and Juan Zuniga for the left wing back role, while Christian Maggio should return on the right. His only other selection concern is likely to be who joins Edison Cavani and Marek Hamsik in attack – does the experienced Goran Pandev return or will Mazzarri continue with young Lorenzo Insigne? Napoli’s forward selection will be important as they have failed to score in their last four games. Should Insigne be selected he would also play slightly deeper than Pandev, making Napoli a 3-4-2-1 shape, which would have ramifications for the tactical battle.

Antonio Conte will hope to welcome Giorgio Chiellini back to the starting line-up after missing two months to injury. In midfield Arturo Vidal faces a race to be fit, but Paul Pogba will be ready to step in should the Chilean miss out. In attack Juventus are rarely predictable – Mirko Vucinic has been in favour of late, so Sebastian Giovinco and Alessandro Matri are most probably competing for the remaining forward position.

The close mirroring of the teams’ formations makes this a game likely to be settled by small margins and tactical nuances. It is telling that the loser of three of the last four meetings had a man sent off – Friday’s game could be a similar story… (Read more)

12/02/13 – Celtic vs Juventus (Champions League Last 16)

Celtic vs JuventusCeltic’s two excellent performances against Barcelona in the group stages were based around a narrow midfield and energetic movement in attack. Neil Lennon is likely to approach Juventus in the same way – a 4-4-1-1 shape with two compact banks of four to squeeze the space between the lines, an advanced midfielder stationed on Andrea Pirlo and a lone forward looking to find space in the channels. Efe Ambrose is expected to miss out having only recently returned from International duty so Mikael Lusting may play as a centre back with Adam Matthews coming in at full back. Further forward Scott Brown is likely to be used as the advanced midfielder tasked with covering Pirlo, with either Gary Hooper or Georgios Samaras leading the line… (Read more)

09/02/13 – Juventus vs Fiorentina (Serie A)

Juventus vs FiorentinaFiorentina have stuttered of late but travel to Juventus having been unlucky not to get more than a draw from the reverse fixture earlier in the season. Vincenzo Montella will use his regularly 2-5-2/3-6-1 system to stifle Juventus’ midfield and build from deep. Antonio Conte will continue with his 3-1-4-2 system that has served his side so well, but the addition of Nicolas Anelka adds to the selection dilemma in attack. Since the Serie A winter break Juventus have stalled a little, losing one and drawing two of their five games in 2013, so the home side will be keen to get back to winning ways… (Read more)