Friday, 30 November 2012

Juventus V Torino 'Derby della Mole' Preview

It is finally here. The biggest game of the season so far as Torino make their shortest trip of the season - just 12km - to face their most hated rivals Juventus on Saturday evening.

In the build up for this match, much has been made of the fact that this derby is perhaps more important for Torino fans than their Juventus counterparts, many of whom probably weren't even born the last time they lost to the Granata (for the record it was April 9th 1995). Whilst this game is probably more important for Torino, Juventus are the team that has it all to lose - they are expected to win - and this should allow Torino a certain amount of freedom to express themselves, and not just be content to 'park the bus'.

Now I'm not suggesting that Giampiero Ventura sends his team out to attack with reckless abandon, but Torino have shown on many occasions this season that they are defensively well organised, and as the 5-1 victory at Atalanta highlighted, they are able to counter attack with both pace and intelligence. Therefore, if Toro are to get anything from this match, it is essential that they continue to do these three things, and perhaps most importantly, that they do not get overawed by the occasion - which admittedly may be difficult given the lack of Derby della Mole experience within the squad.

Another key factor in this match will be the battle of the 'registas' - Andrea Pirlo vs...... well Torino don't actually have a deep lying play maker. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that Toro do not allow Pirlo to dominate the midfield with his excellent array of long and short passing. When Juventus' long unbeaten record was finally broken by Inter at the beginning of the month, they were able to press the veteran midfielder extremely effectively, and with two high energy defensive midfielders - Alessandro Gazzi and Migjen Basha - Torino will hopefully be able to emulate Inter, and nullify the obvious threat of 'The Bearded Genius'.

Juventus are almost certain to dominate the majority of statistics, but the only one that will matter at the end of ninety minutes will be the final score - and in order to keep La Vecchia Signora from scoring, Jean-Francois Gillet will have to to be at his very best. The Belgian goalkeeper has had a great season since signing for Torino in the summer, and he will have to be in fine form on Saturday evening for Torino to get a result. Former Torino goalkeepers Stefano Sorrentino and Federico Marchetti have both performed miracles against the Bianconeri so far this season, and Gillet certainly has the ability to do the same.

Juve face a difficult game against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday night, as they need at least a point in order to guarantee qualification from their Champions League group. Now although a draw would be enough to send both teams through, the Ukrainian champions will certainly be wary of looking to 'play for a draw' - especially after incurring the wrath of the footballing world after Luiz Adriano's controversial goal against Nordsjaelland a fortnight ago. Therefore, Juventus will certainly have one eye on that fixture, and whilst I don't expect Antonio Conte to rest too many of his regular starting eleven, those players who do play may foolishly attempt to conserve energy for that fixture - which Torino could capitalise on. Key players Arturo Vidal and Giorgio Chiellini have recovered from injuries to be included in the Juventus squad, although Martin Caceres misses out.

Torino have almost a fully fit squad to choose from, and Giampiero Ventura has included a hefty 23 players in the travelling party for this match. I would expect Torino to line up in a 4-2-4 formation whilst in possession, that reverts to a 4-3-3 when out of possession. The key player for this potential plan is veteran midfielder and Joey Barton look-alike Giuseppe Vives, who despite naturally being a central midfielder, has featured on the left side of midfield a number of times in his Torino career.

Possible Starting Elevens

Juventus (3-5-2) : Buffon; Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli; Giaccherini, Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio, Lichtsteiner; Giovinco, Vucinic

Torino (4-2-4) : Gillet; Darmian, Glik, Ogbonna, D'Ambrosio; Basha, Gazzi, Vives, Cerci; Bianchi, Meggiorini (Sgrigna)


Now on my normal match previews this is where I would provide a score prediction for the upcoming match. However on this occasion, as a superstitious person, I can't make a prediction for the derby, just in case my guess somehow jinxed the final outcome (stupid I know). However, as long as the team gives it absolutely everything, and leaves it all out there on the field - then whatever happens come the final whistle, I will still be proud to be a Torino fan. One stat that does not make for pleasant reading is the fact that Torino haven't even scored a goal against Juventus in over a decade (February 2002), and that certainly needs to be rectified as soon as possible - hopefully by this time tomorrow.

Forza Torino!

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