Juventus v Fiorentina
Serie A Match Preview
Two of Italy’s biggest rivals square up on Sunday evening at the J Stadium in Turin, as Juventus host Fiorentina in the game of the weekend.
FULL STEAM AHEAD FOR THE OLD LADY
With Champions League qualification secured despite Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat in Seville, Juventus now look to step up a gear domestically in their quest to retain the Serie A championship. Five consecutive wins has brought Massimo Allegri’s side to within touching distance of the summit of the table and another victory against the men from Tuscany on Sunday, could propel them back into the top three after an indifferent start to the campaign. Earlier this week, defender Leonardo Bonucci cited the last minute win over city rivals Torino as the catalyst for their winning streak, other observers point to the fact that Allegri has reverted back to the 3-5-2 system that served the club so well under previous coach Antonio Conte. Whatever the reason one thing is certain, whoever finishes above the Bianconeri, will be the 2015-16 Scudetto winners.
SOUSA GETS FIORENTINA PLAYING IN HIS OWN STYLISH IMAGE
When the former Juventus midfielder Paulo Sousa was appointed coach at Fiorentina in the summer, the news was greeted by howls of derision by certain sections of the fans at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. A club that has never forgiven the Turin giants from stealing their golden boy, Roberto Baggio 25 years ago, now had a former Bianconeri player at the helm and for some it was just too much to take. Fast forward to the present and the former Portuguese international has the side sat second in Serie A (Five points ahead of Sunday’s opponents), playing what many perceive to be as the best football in Italy at the moment. Looking resplendent in their purple shirts, Fiorentina are currently priced at *21.00 on the best online sports betting sites to lift the Scudetto in May or more competitively *3.25 to finish in a Champions League spot next season – Which is what Sousa has always maintained, is the clubs priority.
Roberto Pereyra, Sami Khedira, Hernanes and Martin Caceres remain the missing personnel for Juventus, as Allegri has almost a fully fit squad to choose from for the visit of La Viola. Brazilian attacking full-back Alex Sandro has been impressive in recent weeks and he will keep his place in the side ahead of the more experienced Patrice Evra. Midfielder Asamoah also looks set to keep his place in the starting line-up, which means another watching brief for Stefano Sturaro. Having signed a contract extension to keep him at the club until 2020 this week, Spanish striker Alvaro Morata will be rewarded by being relegated to the substitute’s bench as Croatian hit-man Mario Mandzukic returns.
For Sunday’s visitors, only Polish midfielder Jakub Błaszczykowski is unavailable for Sousa, as he too is given the boost of an almost full complement of players to choose from. Young midfielder Federico Bernardeschi, who many are already calling the new Baggio, will look to impress against a side that he is quoted as saying “Would be impossible for me to play for.” He is priced on the best football betting sites at *6.00 to score in 90 minutes on Sunday.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Juventus (3-5-2) Buffon; Barzagli, Chiellini, Bonucci; Alex Sandro, Asamoah, Marchisio, Pogba, Lichtsteiner; Mandzukic, Dybala
Fiorentina (3-4-2-1) Tătăruşanu; Astori, Rodriguez, Roncaglia; Alonso, Vecino, Badelj, Bernardeschi; Borja Valero, Iličić; Kalinic
HEAD TO HEAD
It’s been a long time since Fiorentina last tasted league success against Juventus in Turin – The Tuscan side’s last victory coming way back in March 2008. Last season’s corresponding fixture was a classic encounter which the hosts eventually won 3-2, thanks to goals from the now departed Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez.Since their shock opening day defeat to Udinese, Juventus are unbeaten at the J Stadium in all competitions. Fiorentina will take heart however, that their only away league defeat this season came away to Napoli in October and that they beat Sunday’s opponents in their own back yard in March of this year, in the Coppa Italia.
Juventus 1.66 Draw 3.75 Fiorentina 5.50
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)