Starting time : 18:45 GMT
This is probably the most important match in Real Madrid’s group stages. Juventus and Real Madrid, two teams of history, prestige and pride though Juventus have not achieved what Real Madrid have achieved in Europe since it’s creation but Juventus has been as successful as Real Madrid in domestic league. Both teams have won 30 odd titles in their respective leagues. Serie A and La Liga namely.
We are playing the Old Lady. We are playing them in their stadium, Estadio Oli’mpico de Turi’n. This means it is gonna be a hell of a game.
To start-off this discussion, here are the players who are traveling to Turin (Robben IN, Saviola, Diarra, Guti, Codina, Salgado and Torres OUT)
Pepe, Ramos, Cannavaro, Marcelo, Metzelder and Heinze
Gago, Sneijder, Drenthe, Robben, De la Red, Van Der Vaart and Javi García
Higuaí, Raúl and Van Nistelrooy
Bernd Schuster will probably make few changes to the line-up that faced Atletico Madrid on Saturday. Heinze could be positioned as left back and Van der Vaart may be a starter in midfield. It is still uncertain if Robben will make the starting 11; if he does he will probably take Raúl’s spot. Casillas, Ramos, Cannavaro (returning to his previous home), Pepe, Gago, Sneijder, Higuaín and Van Nistelrooy will probably also make the starting line-up. Juventus should be respected. They are one of the greatest teams on to continent, and they still are a competitive squad even with the injuries. As of right now, 13 first team players a fit enough to take on Real Madrid.
Wow, that is a pretty bad injury problem. Buffon, Camoranesi, Zanetti, Zebina, Legrottaglie, Iaquinta, Trezeguet, Melberg, Andrade and Poulsen are all injured for the match, although former Sevilla man Poulsen may recover in time. Which means they are way short defensively and lacking any strikers on the bench. It just does not look good for them. Melberg, Iaquinta and Legrottaglie all face late fitness tests to see if they are available for the match.
Of course they do still posess some good players. There back-up keeper is Alex Manninger, who was an Arsenal man for years before he had some excellent seasons with Siena. Definately one of the better back-up keepers in Serie A, he is a big fellow and we will need to keep the shots hard and low so that he has to really stretch for them, because anything in the air he can get to. He did have a horrid time in Spain though, where he was released 7 weeks into the season.
Giorgio Chiellini is still fit of course, so it is not like our strikers will slip through the defence untouched. The other center back is a bit of a mystery for me, Dario Knezevic. He is a Croatian international who was playing for bottom feeders Livorno last year, and he was signed on loan I believe.
Chiellini has looked a little off-form as of late, while I have never seen Knezevic play. It does not look like the most formidable tandem to go up against, but there is the possibility that Legrottaglie will be fit, dropping the Croat to the bencg. Legrottaglie is a much better center back in my opinion, so we will see. At left back they have a major weakness in Christian Molinaro, who is crap. Utter crap. And it isnt like they can replace him with anyone better, as they have the inexperienced Paolo De Ciglie as his backup. Left back is where they are weakest, so my hope is that Sergio Ramos is back to his barn-storming best after an indifferent display against Atletico.
I had to research a lot on Juventus to be able to write a review because some of the names in this Juventus line up have rarely crossed my eyes and I don’t actually follow Juventus that much.
After Real Madrid in Spain. I support Inter Milan in Serie A because they have signed some personals who I would have loved to have in Real Madrid, Mourinho being one of them but Schuster isn’t bad either and before I go off topic lets get to the match preview.
Right back sees Juventus improve, with the under-rated Zdenek Grygera filling in what is usually his spot, although he does face competition from Zebina from time to time.
He will get forward on occassion and be effective, but he is a solid defender, and its to bad Robben cant put him through his paces, because that would be an interesting duel.
Higuain or Raulwill workhard to escape his shackles. Defensively I would say they are weaker then usual, but dont count out an Italian teams ability to keep it tight in the back, when the time is right, they defend like warriors, all men behind the ball and every player on an Italian team can be expected to have pretty good tackling ability. Anyway, Molinaro will need to be exploited as a key to victory.
In midfield, they do not have as many injuries, but they are missing Poulsen now with a thigh strain, but Momo Sissoko will be in his place after serving a suspension over the weekend.
Sissoko of course spent time with Auxerre, Valencia and Liverpool before moving to Juve at 22! He has played for 3 big European teams already, so you really cant say that he is a slouch.
Sissoko as we all know has a huge physical presence in the midfield and his hair cut, sometimes scares me. I mean, I wouldn’t want to come up against a 6 foot plus guy with that hair cut on a football field.
He will be roaving around, tackling and being a menace, while his midfield partner Claudio Marchisio will do more of the same, as he is not much of an offensive threat either.
There is the option of Giovinco playing centrally and causing us a whole lot of trouble, while Nedved and Salizhamidzic have played centrally in their career before. Tiago is another option, but I dont see that happening.
The center of the park is a bit of a problem, but I do think Ranieri will go with two DMs. Nedved and Salizhamidzic will probably be out wide then, with Marchioni and Giovinco on the bench.
Also on the bench will be a few youth team players. Albin Ekdal, Sweedish prodigy made his first appearance for Juve over the weekend and he may feature again given all the injuries.
Lorenzo Ariuado, a youth team center back, and Luca Castiglia, a youth team midfielder. Those three are more of a just in case of injury and also because there already have been so many, but they are decent players.
Striking options are also limited, so expect Amauri and Del Piero up front to start, with very little in terms of reinforcement of the bench. Del Piero we all know is a good player, but he is looking for form.