Juventus-Torino Preview: Round 34 — Taking no bull from il Toro

A Turin-born boy celebrating after scoring against Torino? Almost too good to be true. - Valerio Pennicino

The Stadio Olimpico brings back some bad memories. It's not exactly like the six years that Juventus played in the stadio was all that memorable. Well, the first couple were. The others? Yeah, not so much. It's a place where Juve experienced some good times, but also some of the darker days in the recent history of the club.

Now, Juventus return to their old stomping grounds in a completely different state of mind.

Antonio Conte's men are just a win and a draw away from a second consecutive Scudetto. Don't tell to the Italian press, though. They're too busy churning out transfer rumors like their lives depend on it. Hey! You guys here the one where Juve are going to sign Luis Suarez for €45 million with a side order of fries? So there's that. Which can be nice — unless you believe every single word they spit and then trouble will likely ensue.

But don't tell that newspaper nonsense to Conte. I get the feeling that he's ready for this one. (Then again, when was the last time he wasn't?)

The Turin derby may not be the kind of heated rivalry that's currently in Juventus' world like Inter and Milan, but it's special in it's own kind of way. And with the added bonus of it being an official away match in an actual away stadium, who knows what may happen.

Well, while that may be a mystery until kickoff takes place, shall the final points in the Scudetto chase continue to be lowered. That certainly would be nice. Winning the title on May just has such a nice ring to it.

GOOD NEWS

Scudetto countdown is at four points. Is there really anything else you need to know other than that?

Also of note: Sunday's derby will be Andrea Barzagli's 100th appearance in a Juventus jersey. Has time flown by or has time flown by? Not bad for a guy who was picked up for €300,000 and a couple of bags of peanuts. Well done, Beppe. And well done, Andrea.

BAD NEWS

The second go-around of the 3-5-1-1 resulted in a completely boring game against Milan. Not exactly what we were expecting now, huh? Now, for the third straight week, Conte's latest formational switch will again see a different set of tactics test it against Torino. We've seen it against the 4-1-4-1 of Lazio, then the 4-3-3 of Milan, now the 4-2-4/4-4-2 hybrid of Torino, which Conte is probably a little familiar with. Or maybe it's a lotta familiar with seeing as Giampiero Ventuna was the man who replaced Conte at Bari a few years back.

Still, a new week a new set of challenges. Hey, sounds like just about every other week.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

1. The atmosphere inside the Stadio Olimpico. Giorgio Chiellini talked about how Sunday's game is a great occasion for the city of Turin. And he's got a point. But unlike the first derby this season at Juventus Stadium, the second edition will more likely be a stadio divided rather than one that has the vast majority of the crowd supporting the same team.

"It's clear that games against the likes of Milan, Inter and this year Napoli have a greater importance, as does the Champions League. But the derby is something that's felt in Turin and both sets of fans want supremacy in the city, even just for bragging rights.

"Apart from the fact that the league table doesn't fully reflect Torino's season, the derby is completely different game. It brings added motivation and throws up situations that aren't seen in other games."

2. Mirko Vucinic. The 3-5-1-1 had one good game, one meh game and Juventus' hot-and-cold striker has simply followed suit with the system he now plays in. Vucinic was bad, to say the least. Not all that surprise seeing as that the up-and-down roller coaster ride has been the way his season has gone. And even though the Scudetto is just a few mere points away, the role Vucinic plays within the squad — regardless of the system — and his performance will always be put under the microscope.

3. Claudio Marchisio. He's a Turin boy who starred in the season's first Turin derby. Coincidence? I think not. However, much in the same line of Vucinic, Marchisio struggled to make a serious impact in his newfound advanced role in Conte's 3-5-1-1 system. Eh, well, you could say pretty much half the squad's showing last weekend. Will it be the Lazio Marchisio that shows up or the Milan Marchisio? I think I know which one I'm hoping for. And it's just the kind of game where Principino seems to find a way to make a huge imprint on the final outcome. Ya know, a Turin boy going up against another Turin club.

And hey, he'll have bragging rights in his house again. Not bad.

My starting XI (3-5-1-1): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Peluso; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Asamoah; Marchisio; Vucinic

OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 3 P.M. IN ITALY; HIGH 9 A.M. ON THE EAST COAST; 6 A.M. ON THE WEST COAST

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