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Frank Lopapa On October - 22 - 2011

High Odds On Genoa As Juventus In Pole Position

Juventus host Genoa Saturday night, with both teams coming off scoreless draws last weekend against Chievo and Lecce respectively.


After last week’s 0-0 draw in Verona, Juventus remain at the top of Serie A, with 12 points from their first six games; along with Udinese they are the only team in the league without a defeat. News coming out of Italy yesterday reported that Gigi Buffon suffered a shoulder injury in training on Thursday, leaving him in doubt for Genoa’s visit; fortunately for the Bianconeri, they have a more than capable backup in Marco Storari, who would be making his season debut if Buffon is not fit in time.

There is also the question of who will be playing on the wings, with injuries and poor form leaving Conte with a bit of a selection problem. Emanuele Giaccherini will not be available for Saturday’s match, as he suffered a thigh injury against Chievo; the ex-Cesena player may not be ready for a week or two. There is also reason to believe that Milos Krasic might not start, as poor form coupled with the tragic death of his uncle may give Conte reason to give the Serbian winger a mental rest before the midweek match against Fiorentina. With Pepe the only guaranteed starter, it is now between the two new boys to Serie A: Marcelo Esitgarribia, who made his debut last week, and Eljero Elia. Conte has stated previously that both players still need time to adapt tactically to his formation as well as settling into a new country and league. There were rumors coming out of Vinovo that Conte has experimented with a 4-3-3 in training, utilizing an attacking three of Vucinic, Matri, and Quagliarella. Vidal has also been scratched for the match, as he has not recovered in time from an adductor injury.

Probable Formation (4-4-2): Storari; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini; Pepe, Pirlo, Marchisio, Estigarribia; Vucinic, Matri


The big news for Genoa is that they have lost starting defender Kakha Kaladze for the next four games after his outburst at the referee last week; other than that only Ze Eduardo is missing through injury. For the past few seasons Genoa have been one of the most schizophrenic teams in Serie A; one week they look like contenders for a Champions League place and the next like relegation fodder. This isn’t to say they don’t have a good squad; with players such as Sebastien Frey, Luca Antonelli, Miguel Veloso, and Rodrigo Palacio, they should be doing better, but as it stands, they are squarely in the middle of the table. Genoa are winless in their past three games, losing to Chievo and Parma while drawing Lecce, nullifying impressive wins away to Lazio and at home against Catania; their other result being the opening day draw at Atalanta.

Both Palacio and Veloso are playing extremely well thus far, with the Argentine forward scoring five of his teams six goals in the league. Veloso has finally settled in Serie A after signing from Portuguese outfit Sporting last year. Part of Veloso’s problem last season was that he was being played out of position, often being deployed as a trequarista whereas now he is playing in his natural, central midfield role alongside the Slovakian Juraj Kucka. Genoa usually come out in a 4-3-1-2 with a midfield trio of Veloso, Kucka, and one of either Kevin Constant or Valter Birsa supporting an attacking trio of Alexander Merkel, Palacio, and Andre Caracciolo. Luckily for Genoa, they have a full squad to call upon notwithstanding the suspended Kaladze and injured Ze Eduardo.

Probable Formation (4-3-1-2): Frey; Rossi, Danielli, Moretti, Antonelli; Veloso, Kucka, Birsa; Merkel; Palacio, Caracciolo

What to expect

As Juventus is playing at their new formidable home, expect them to come out of the gate looking to score early and put Genoa on the back foot. It is a game that starts for Juventus a tough stretch in their schedule; Tuesday they host old nemesis Fiorentina, followed by trips to the San Siro for the Derby D’Italia and to Napoli. Coming away with all three points is of high importance as to keep the momentum going into the next few weeks. On the other hand, Genoa would be more than happy to return to Liguria with a point, considering the opponent and their own form. The Rossoblu’ have a similarly tough run of matches after Saturday, squaring up against Roma at home, away to Fiorentina, then hosting Inter at the Marassi. Genoa have been poor of late, however, Juventus haven’t exactly been the most clinical against the lower sides; this game is as good as any to remedy that. Prediction: Juventus 2-0 Genoa.

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