Tactical Battles That Will Shape Juve's Clash with Fiorentina
The second league meeting after being humbled by the Viola at the Artemio Franchi is the first match before a two-legged Europa League tie.
The Bianconeri were humbled 4-2 in the first game that these sides played this season and will be out for revenge on Sunday in front of their own fans at the Juventus Stadium.
Here are some tactical battles that will be fascinating to follow.
Claudio Marchisio vs. Alberto Aquilani or Matias Fernandez
Claudio Marchisio is entering a fine run of games that will be doing his confidence the world of good.
After losing his place to Paul Pogba in Juve's strongest line-up, a series of injuries and suspensions to the Frenchman, Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo—as is the case for Sunday—means that Antonio Conte has called upon him more often over the last couple of months.
With the schedule intensifying as the Europa League enters its latter stages, and with Cesare Prandelli still a fan—Il Principino started against Spain midweek for the Azzurri—Marchisio will be highly motivated to impress as we enter the World Cup.
Alberto Aquilani or Matias Fernandez will be his direct opponent on Sunday; their role, as well as Marchisio's, to roam all over the pitch, knitting passes together and drifting into the final third, particularly with the intention of not being picked up and potentially poaching a goal or two.
These midfielders are mercurial, possessing the ability to stamp their influence on the game with a multitude of skills—it will be fascinating to see who comes out on top in this battle.
Matri and Gomez vs. Juve's Back 3
Vincenzo Montella is undecided as of yet who will be the striker for Fiorentina on Sunday, with Mario Gomez still not feeling fresh after recovering from his knee injury.
The German striker has only started the meaningless second leg of the Europa League tie with Esbjerg, so Montella may keep him for the bench in such a massive encounter, saving him for the Europa clash with the Serie A champions.
Alessandro Matri would therefore start up front, probably without an out-and-out forward to partner him, so it will be imperative that he constantly moves and works the channels to provide an outlet and create space for himself amid the multitude of midfielders that Fiorentina possess.
Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci will need to be on guard, and although Matri does not possess explosive pace, his subtle movement and underrated ability in the air mean that he is a force to be reckoned with.
Whether Conte decides to allocate one of the centre-backs to man-mark Matri will be interesting; and now that the former Juve striker has had a few weeks to settle into the Montella system, he will be anticipating the balls that the wonderfully creative players are capable of laying on a plate for him.
Juan Cuadrado vs. Kwadwo Asamoah
Juan Cuadrado will be Fiorentina's biggest threat, and it will be one of the key decisions for Montella as to how he is utilised in this match.
In a 3-5-2 system, Cuadrado can start deeper and gain momentum with his electric pace and close control when he dribbles the ball out of the back.
In the 4-3-3, he may have more space to expose Juve, positioning himself higher up the pitch and really forcing Kwadwo Asamoah to operate more as a left-back than a left midfielder.
Conte may opt to give Cuadrado food for thought by insisting that Juve's midfield look for the Ghanaian as an outlet on the left, forcing Montella to insist that the Colombian winger track back.
But it is not really in the nature of the former Udinese midfielder, so it will be decisive who assumes control in midfield and is capable of finding a pocket of space to be able to launch long passes to the channels to set these incredible athletes galloping free.
You can expect both of these players to cover an enormous amount of ground and to battle each other going both ways.
It should prove to be a decisive factor in the way in which the match unfolds.
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