Juventus ready to get back on the track?

Posted on 30/01/2010


Serie A Week 22 – 31/1/10 (19.45 UK)
Juventus – Lazio
Stadio Olimpico

It’s almost a battle to see which team is less worse off, as Juventus have another new Coach and Lazio teeter on the edge of the relegation zone.

These two clubs had such high hopes going into the new season, as the Bianconeri targeted the Scudetto following a strong transfer campaign and the Aquile followed up their Coppa Italia triumph with the Italian Super Cup. Instead 2010 has been a disaster for both parties.

Juventus have lost a remarkable nine of their last 12 games in all competition, following up three consecutive Serie A defeats with a midweek Coppa Italia exit at the hands of Inter. That was Ciro Ferrara’s last chance as Alberto Zaccheroni was appointed less than 24 hours later.

“We are very disappointed, as we have failed at another of our objectives for the season,” commented President Jean-Claude Blanc. Sliding out of the top five for the first time this season, Juve risk failing to qualify for the Champions League and even the Europa League.

To make matters worse, the squad is decimated for this match. Gianluigi Buffon and Fabio Grosso sit out bans, as the goalkeeper received the first red card of his 396-game Serie A career during the 2-1 loss to Roma.

The injury list includes Vincenzo Iaquinta, Mauro Camoranesi, Martin Caceres, David Trezeguet, Sebastian Giovinco, Christian Poulsen, Claudio Marchisio and Hasan Salihamidzic. At least Alessandro Del Piero should return after a bout of gastroenteritis.

It’s hardly going better at Lazio with just two wins in their last 19 Serie A matches leaving the team floundering two points clear of the relegation zone. Also out of the Coppa Italia following a 3-2 quarter-final loss at Fiorentina, Davide Ballardini is under a great deal of pressure.

Above all the fans blame President Claudio Lotito for creating an atmosphere of tension that has seen its players take legal action against the club. Goran Pandev succeeded in freeing himself to join Inter, but this week Cristian Ledesma’s appeal was rejected. There are reports the midfielder could now be placed back into the line-up for the first time this season.

Ledesma would be a useful addition considering injuries to Francelino Matuzalem, Cristian Brocchi, Sergio Floccari, Pasquale Foggia, Christian Manfredini and the fact Mourad Meghni is on Africa Cup of Nations duty. Julio Cruz is favourite to partner Mauro Zarate upfront, sending Tommaso Rocchi to the bench. Aleksandar Kolarov continues to shine in his new midfield position.

Lazio have lost their last two Serie A visits to Turin, scoring two goals and conceding seven. The club’s total top-flight record here is of just nine wins, 16 draws and 41 defeats. The most recent away victory was 2-1 on December 15 2002 against a Juve side that included Ferrara in defence.
Keep an eye on: Julio Cruz (Lazio) – Il Jardinero has an excellent scoring record against Juventus, having netted 12 goals against the Bianconeri, who are by far his favourite target. These are broken down into two Champions League goals for Feyenoord, five in Serie A between Bologna and Inter, two in the Trofeo TIM and another three Coppa Italia strikes for the Nerazzurri.
Last five in Serie A: Juventus (L W L L L) Lazio (L W D L D)
Last season: Juventus 2-0 Lazio

Juventus (probable): Manninger; Grygera, Cannavaro, Chiellini, De Ceglie; Sissoko, Candreva, Felipe Melo; Diego; Del Piero, Amauri
Lazio (probable): Muslera; Diakhite, Stendardo, Radu; Lichtsteiner, Baronio, Firmani, Kolarov; Mauri; Cruz, Zarate
Ref: Saccani

Source: Football-Italia