Singapore Select XI vs. Juventus: How Juve Will Line Up in Pre-Season Friendly

Colin O'Brien@@ColliOBrienContributor IAugust 15, 2014

With a new manager on the bench and the new Serie A season looming on the horizon, Juventus' upcoming friendly with a Singapore Select XI at the Asian city's brand new National Stadium is more important than such a game would normally be. 

Juve have been by far the strongest side in Italy for the last three years, but over the summer their main rivals have all made ground.

The pressure is on Massimiliano Allegri to prove that he's a top-level coach worthy of replacing Antonio Conte, rather than Milan's cast-off, signed in a hurry to fill the hole left by the the new Italy boss' departure from Turin. 

The new manager will also have to show that he's able to adapt his game, because on the face of it the Juve squad isn't perfectly suited to his style of play.

Most obviously, the Bianconeri rely on Andrea Pirlo to get things moving in the centre, and it was Allegri who famously sent the 35-year-old midfielder away from the San Siro and into the arms of the Old Lady three years ago, thinking him too old and too slow to be useful.

Conte's replacement will know all to well what a mistake he made and must now rectify it, because dropping the iconic Italian will send the wrong message and almost certainly attract a barrage of criticism. 

Elsewhere, Juve are probably still better-suited to playing with three central defenders and two wing-backs, even with Patrice Evra's arrival.

It's been some time since we've seen the Frenchman at his best, but Juventini everywhere will be hoping he can be reinvigorated in Turin because, perhaps more than any other player, the new formation with a four-man defence—and the new manager—depends on him being a success at left-back. 

On the plus side for Allegri, he's never had a squad this talented. His Scudetto-winning Milan from 2011 had some brilliant individuals—Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva—but it lacked quality throughout and was nowhere near as cohesive as the current Juventus line-up.

The flip side of that is that the 47-year-old no longer has any excuses.

He divided opinion at Milan, but he earned the sympathy of many because he had his best players sold out from under him and was given little in the way of replacements. He also had to work with a board and a chairman that was less than harmonious and rarely supportive.

Things are different in Turin, and if he fails it will be squarely on him. 

Rebuilding Juve in his image, and winning, will prove his detractors wrong and hopefully provide the Bianconeri with the fresh spark they need after three years at the top of Serie A. 

Juve looked lively against the A-League All-Stars in Sydney last week but still managed to concede twice to a disparate mix of players hobbled together from a weaker league, so the 3-2 win shouldn't have anyone cheering too loudly. 

In Australia they needed some of Paul Pogba's genius to equalise in the 88th minute—Simone Pepe eventually snatched the winner in extra time. They'll want to put things to bed quicker in Singapore, because a poor performance against such opposition would only serve to undermine confidence on the eve of the new league campaign. 

Whether or not the line-up will be the same will be interesting.

Against the Australians, Allegri stuck to a 3-5-2 like the Juve of old, but he's more comfortable using four at the back and realistically, a 33-year-old Evra is not much use as a wing-back.

The change to a 4-3-3 or 4-3-2-1 seems inevitable, so it would make sense for the manager to give it a spin now rather than waiting for the league to start, when he'll be under a lot more pressure. 

If he does go for four at the back, expect the line-up to feature Gigi Buffon in goal, with Stephan Lichtsteiner on the right, Evra on the left and two of Girgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci or Angelo Ogbonna in the centre. Thus far, Ogbonna's Juve career hasn't gone the way most thought it would when he arrived from Torino, but with a new manager he now has another chance to prove his worth. 

The Juventus midfield picks itself. Arturo Vidal was left out of the squad in Australia because of a niggling knee problem, but if fit he should join Paul Pogba and Pirlo in the centre, with the underrated Claudio Marchisio making an appearance at some stage. 

In front of that trio, Carlos Tevez should feature behind Fernando Llorente and could be joined by Sebastian Giovinco or new man Roberto Pereyra. Great things are expected from the former Udinese star, and calcio fans will be watching closely to see if—and how quickly—he can make the step up to Juve's level. 

Marchisio could also make an appearance supporting the striker. 


Predicted Juventus XI: Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Ogbonna, Evra; Pirlo, Pogba, Marchisio; Tevez, Pereyra, Llorente. 


Colin O'Brien lives and works in Rome, covering Italian football. You can contact him on Twitter.


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