For all intents and purposes, Juventus were the definition of a tired team last Saturday. They were sluggish, and therefore the 1-0 loss to Rome was pretty much the result that should've happened. We didn't like it around these parts, but that's what really did take place. There's no getting around it.
After seven-plus days of rest, there's really only one thing to do: Get back to being Juventus.
See? It's simple. Okay, maybe not that easy, but it helps that Juve are hosting a team that is currently in one of Serie A's relegation spots rather than, say, Napoli. But that's next week.
For now, Antonio Conte welcomes his Bianconeri coaching past to the home of his Biaconeri coaching present and foreseeable future. It's certainly a fixture that Juve's manager respects. And it's certainly one that Juve needs to win to not only win, but play well to get some good vibes going again with Napoli and the second leg against Celtic in the Champions League on the horizon.
That's just the simple truth. They've had eight days to rest. Now it's time to show why they're Italy's best team against.
It's simply time to get back on the horse. Nothing needs to be said other than that. End the preview here!
Or maybe not. Onwards and upwards we go!
It's Italy's first-place team going up against one of the three clubs in the relegation zone. After a disappointing loss, you can't ask for much more from the scheduling gods than something like that.
And Claudio Marchisio will all but certainly return to the starting lineup after sitting out the loss to Roma last weekend. We all know how much of a difference Il Principino makes. We missed you, Claudio. Welcome back.
Siena are actually playing quite well, all things considered. Therefore, they are alive and breathing despite being in the bottom three.
Beppe Iachini doing well for relegation battlers Siena. 10 points from a possible 24 when Serse Cosmi only managed 17 from a possible 51!— Mina Rzouki (@Minarzouki) February 19, 2013
Add in Siena's ultra-surprising 3-0 win over Lazio last weekend, and that's 13 out of a possible 27 points. They might have only moved up one spot in the Serie A table since the last time they faced Juventus in Tuscany, but they've certainly showed signs of life compared to some of the league's other bottom feeders.
Conte: Tomorrow we'll be taking on a team in great form. They've beaten Lazio and Inter and could have taken more from Bologna #JuveSiena— JuventusFC (@juventusfc) February 23, 2013
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. Squad rotation. Any kind of word you want to use to describe how Juventus played against Roma, it probably is going to be accurate. And a lot of that had to do with how the squad being flat out tired as can be. But with some injuries developing during the week — Martin Caceres and Arturo Vidal didn't practice on Friday morning, according to the Juventus website — Conte maybe take more of a cautious, play-it-safe approach to selecting his squad. And then we have this from Conte's pre-match presser:
Conte: Caceres will not feature tomorrow. Vidal missed yesterday's training session, we'll assess his condition today #JuveSiena— JuventusFC (@juventusfc) February 23, 2013
So we know of one or two guys who may or may not be playing tomorrow. If Vidal is out too, then so be it. Juventus need as many healthy starters for Napoli as possible. If there's even the slightest risk of Vidal's condition being in doubt, sit him down and keep on the bench. Hell, don't even call him up. Just make sure that when Juventus start Friday's game against Napoli, he's out there and completely healthy.
2. Striker selection.First, since this post has become field with Twitter posts, here's another one:
Conte: Giovinco's in good shape, available and we'll make our decisions after training. I still haven't chosen my side for #JuveSiena— JuventusFC (@juventusfc) February 23, 2013
Methinks the Atomic Ant will be in the starting lineup tomorrow. It's been a couple of weeks since Giovinco appeared in the starting lineup — a lot of that having to do with the resurgence of Alessandro Matri. Will it be Matri alongside Giovinco on Sunday? Or maybe Mirko Vucinic? Maybe even Fabio Quagliarella making a rare 2013 appearance? Whatever combination Conte may be thinking of using, it does seem like thing will be shaken for the first time in awhile.
3. Juventus' physical state. Tired, tired, tired. That's what Juventus were against Roma. Now, the logical thinking is week off, and the troops are ready to go again. Easier said than done, but it's always good to get rest this time of year — and that's not even considering that Juventus played like crap last weekend because they were completely exhausted. But now that they're seven days separated from the loss in the capital, they shouldn't be tired. (Please don't be tired, Juventus.)
4. Juventus' mental state. When you're physically tired after a huge game, you're usually just as tired mentally as well. The squad have had a week of to not only recuperate, but also recover rest their minds. The thing I want to see? Well, to be frank, I want Juventus to be pissed off. Just think about the last time Juve had a post-Champions League letdown and lost to Milan. The next result: Juventus 3, Torino 0. Rinse and repeat, Il Mister.
5. The impact of Innocent Emeghara. Read this mighty fine piece of writing, and then defend at your own will.
6. If this weekend will mark Giorgio Chiellini's comeback. Conte said at his pre-match press conference that Giorgio will be on the bench against Siena. For me, it should only be brief appearance if he does in fact see some action. It's been months since Chiellini was last seen on the Juventus Stadium pitch. Get his feet wet now and then let him loose against Napoli in five days. That sounds like just a dandy plan. Maybe it's because I thought of it all by myself. Genius.
My starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Peluso; Isla, Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Giovinco, Quagliarella
OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 3 P.M. IN ITALY; 9 A.M. ON THE EAST COAST; 6 A.M. ON THE WEST COAST