Round 36: Plus Three, Minus Three

The last midweek game of the season is here, and much like the last two fixtures, Juventus stands tall on the path to the scudetto, ready to erase the last shred of hope left in another troubled relegation-battler. After Cesena and Novara, Antonio Conte's hometown team is the club his men will be looking to push off the ledge in what is poised to be an exciting and nerve-wrecking week for us all.

Sm_scudetto_medium

I know, I know, the above masterpiece has left you breathless! I can't believe my own talents at times, either. First I put Dr. Seuss to shame, then I bless you all with this stroke of genius; I promise to build a life-size Marco Borriello play doh sculpture and put it on Ebay (proceeds to go to the "Help Marco Borriello Reconcile with his Long Lost Barber" foundation, donations are welcome).

The thrashing of Novara has kept us at +3 over Milan, who after visiting Conte's former team last week, host Conte's former former team, Atalanta. The similarities in the last few rounds are impressive: Juventus faces relegation battler, after relegation battler, after relegation battler - the 20th placed team, the 19th placed team and now the 18th placed team; Milan's 35th and 36th rounds consist of duels with Antonio Conte's ex-teams, both of them newly promoted, both of them with not much left to play for as they are mathematically safe from relegation and both feature young, talented Italian strikers Juventus has been regularly rumored to be interested in.

Le Chiavi: Like the last few, on paper, this match is tricky and nothing short of a massive headache. As Danny mentioned in the Novara preview, a loss against Juventus would bring an already in-danger Lecce team awfully close to a season long trip to Serie B. Mathematically they would still have something to play for in the last two weeks if they were to lose to Juventus, but after a disappointing loss at the Via Del Mare against Parma on Sunday, Lecce is as desperate as ever for points and what better morale boost for a relegation battler than snatching a surprise positive result away from home against the league leaders?

Okay, now everybody knock on your desk, scratch your family jewels, insert traditional superstition ritual of choice here.

Good News:

  • Matri is back after his suspension
  • Juventus dominated what was believed to be a potentially complicated fixture of a similar scenario last week
  • Juventus has gotten scored on 3 times in the last 11 matches, racked up 8 consecutive wins while outscoring opponents 9-0 in the last 3 games alone
  • Lecce are depleted, evident by Serse Cosmi calling up just 20 players, 3 of which are goalkeepers, only 4 are defenders (Miglionico, Tomovic, Brivio, Carrozzieri); Massimo Oddo, an important starter for the Salentini was left home after picking up a twisted left ankle in the final, morning practice ahead of the trip to Turin
  • Antonio Conte has almost a full strength roster at his disposal ahead of Wednesday, with 22 players being called up, Krasic and Pepe the only absences
Bad News:
  • Simone Pepe is unavailable due to injury, as his ankle is still swollen and bothering him (cue Jorid sobbing uncontrollably)
  • Serse Cosmi, Lecce's manager who was expected to miss the match due to suspension will be on the sidelines as usual, after the Giallorossi's appeal was accepted, and his one game suspension was reduced to a 10000 Euro fine and a warning for suspension
Call-Ups Juventus:

1 Buffon; 3 Chiellini; 4 Caceres; 8 Marchisio; 10 Del Piero; 11 De Ceglie; 13 Manninger; 14 Vucinic;
15 Barzagli; 17 Elia; 18 Quagliarella; 19 Bonucci; 20 Padoin; 21 Pirlo; 22 Vidal; 23 Borriello;
24 Giaccherini; 26 Lichtsteiner; 28 Estigarribia; 30 Storari; 32 Matri; 34 Marrone

Call-Ups Lecce:

1 Gabrieli; 3 Di Matteo; 6 Giandonato; 7 Cuadrado; 8 Obodo; 10 Bojinov; 11 Seferovic;
13 Miglionico; 15 Ofere; 17 Di Michele; 18 Giacomazzi; 24 Muriel; 25 Petrachi; 26 Blasi;
28 Brivio; 40 Tomovic; 80 Carrozzieri; 81 Benassi; 82 Delvecchio; 91 Bertolacci

My Starting XI (3-5-2) : Buffon; Barzagli; Bonucci; Chiellini; Lichtsteiner; Vidal; Pirlo; Marchisio; De Ceglie; Borriello; Vucinic



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