Juventus-Bordeaux Preview: Five Questions for the Bianconeri in France
It's pretty plain and simple for Juventus against Bordeaux in Champions League action on Wednesday—you win, you advance to the knockout stages.
There, of course, are other scenarios that will allow the Bianconeri to go through to the knockout stages, involving the Bayern Munich-Maccabi Haifa game, but the easiest way is to beat the French champions and not rely on other teams to give you help.
The two teams opened the Champions League group stages with a 1-1 draw at the Olimpico in Turin. Vincenzo Iaquinta opened the scoring in the 63rd minute and Jarislov Plasil leveling the scoreline just 12 minutes later.
It was a frustrating night for both teams—with Juventus failing to impress and get any kind of finishing touch going and Bordeaux feeling the wrath of the world's best goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, on numerous occaisions.
Both teams were on the opposite ends of 1-0 decisions this past weekend. Juventus were unimpressive in a 1-0 win against Udinese while Bordeaux were shocked at home against Valenciennes.
1. Can Juventus keep its evil twin in the closet?
Consistency is a key in any team over the course of a long season. This is especially true in the Champions League with so much on the line and little room for error.
It's the consistent inconsistency that has them trailing Inter in the standings instead of possibly being ahead of their biggest rival.
To bring it to a more specific concentration, if Juve want to win, they need to put in a complete 90-minute game. We've seen Juve get up early this season and then take the foot off the gas and allow the opposing to make things much more interesting than they needed to be.
Sometimes it hasn't killed, but other times it has, causing them to lose points when they shouldn't have.
In the first game against Bordeaux, too many players played average at best. The result was a draw when it should have been a win. If they want to turn things around on the road at the Stade Jacques Chaban-Delmas and get the three points needed to qualify for the knockout round, they will have to put in a better performance than they did at home.
2. Can Diego work some of his early season magic?
Having missed out due to injury, Juventus' pint-sized Brazilian magician didn't play a part the last time these teams met back in September.
By no means is the Juve team Diego dependent. But it is also fact that when the offense is clicking, Diego is usually at the center of what is happening. Whether he is trying to score himself or setting up a teammate, when things are happening up top, Diego is involved in it.
However, in the first match coming out of the international break this past Sunday, Diego was far from being the usual creative force we have come to know him to be. His passing was off, his free kick delivery wasn't there. It was just a bad day at the office.
In all likelihood it was more rust than being on poor form considering how well he played going into the break.
With so much riding at this game, the big players will be looked at to make big things happen. Diego is one of those players. Now it's time to make it happen.
3. What kind of impact can the midfield have?
In Turin, the Juventus midfield struggled to get going against Bordeaux's compact and rugged five-man midfield.
Unlike the first encounter, Juventus will be featuring their own version of a five-man midfield. The 4-2-3-1 has given the squad more creativity with Diego being flanked by Mauro Camoranesi and Sebastian Giovinco as well as helping the defense with Felipe Melo and Momo Sissoko/Christian Poulsen sitting in front of them.
However, outside of Christian Poulsen, nobody really impressed against Udinese this past Sunday. Melo played arguably his worst game in a Juve jersey after a string of solid at worst efforts this season. The ball was turned over far too many times, the tackling wasn't up to its usual standards, and things just looked out of whack.
With Bordeaux playing so compact, the midfield battle will be crucial. They struggled in Turin and it showed. If they can turn it around and play well, the result should be a good one.
4. Can the defense keep their near-perfect Champions League record going?
It may be hard to believe, but the Juventus defense has given up the fewest number of goals through four rounds of the Champions League group stage.
Now, a lot of that has to do with the heroics of Buffon in the opener and playing Maccabi Haifa in back-to-back games, but still, allowing one goal in four Champions League games is nothing to frown at.
The squad selection for Ferrara might be as easy as penciling in who will be in goal. It will basically be the same defense that Bordeaux saw Ferrara trot out there in Turin—the obvious difference being Chiellini instead of Nicola Legrottaglie in the center.
Both Caceres and Grosso played especially well over the weekend and they will be looking to continue their fine form. If Juve get solid production out of their fullbacks, things will only get that much better both defensively and offensively.
With both Yoann Gourcuff and Maouane Chamakh out injured, Bordaeux's two biggest weapons won't be on the field. That doesn't mean things will be easy, but it definitely is an advantage for a defense that can struggle at times.
5. Can Amauri have a positive impact?
With Iaquinta and David Trezeguet out injured and Alessandro Del Piero working his way back to match fitness after returning from his own injury troubles, it's Amauri up top as Juve's lone striker.
It has been a battle for the Brazilian so far this season. He has only four goals in Serie A when he could easily have twice as many with as many opportunities he has had. As the games have gone, he hasn't sustained anything consistent and his finishing in front of goal has been mediocre at best.
No matter what formation Ferrara has fielded him in, Amauri has struggled to put everything together.
He will have three creative midfielders in Diego, Camoranesi, and Giovinco playing behind him, so if they can get him the ball in the air or on the ground, he should have chances to score.
However, things won't come easy against a Bordeaux defense that has allowed just two goals in the Champions League and the fewest in Ligue 1—including just two in seven home matches.
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