There are a lot of things to be thankful for that the city of Turin has produced. There's Juventus, of course, and everything that comes along with it. There's an intense derby to look forward to twice every season. There's the fact that one of Juve's best players, Claudio Marchisio, was born and grew up just minutes away from where he now makes a living.
Sunday is one of those days where everything comes together into one. The Derby della Mole is a unique day for the city of Turin, one that sees Juventus face Torino.
But for a couple years as Torino hung out in Serie B, we didn't have the Turin derby to watch twice a season. Luckily for us, it returned with a bang on the first day of December last year. In case you forgot what happened, watch this here video for a quick reminder.
(No, really. That's really Nicklas Bendtner playing in a game for Juventus.)
And if you forgot about what happened in the second Turin derby last season, here's Claudio Zuliani to remind you of all the fun in the rain Juventus had as they moved that much closer to a second straight title.
Good times, good times.
Basically what I'm trying to say with all of this is that the Derby della Mole is back for another season. It's Juventus vs. Torino at the Stadio Olimpico. There may or may not be rain in the forecast, but there will certainly be a lunchtime kickoff for the first time in quite a little while. And I could go on and on about how the derby is different from other games, but I'll just snag a quote from Antonio Conte's pre-match press conference on Saturday that sums things up nicely:
"We've got great respect for Torino because they're a fine, well-organized side with fine players and an excellent coach. We know that derbies are always particular types of games in which the form guide goes out of the window."
Bingo. On with the show.
If last season's two Turin derbies were a sign of what's to come, we should be expecting a goal from Claudio Marchisio tomorrow. Maybe it's the Turin thing, maybe it's just because he's awesome. Maybe it's both. But if Il Principino wants to continue this trend of scoring goals against the team his wife happens to root for, you won't find me objecting to it.
Have you seen Juventus' finishing lately? Sure, the possession has been comfortably in their favor. But the finishing, yeah, it hasn't exactly been what some would call "clinical."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. How will a rested Carlos Tevez do?
In the past we've discussed how a rested Andrea Pirlo is just that much better than the usual product. Now, after coming off the bench in the second half against Chievo on Wednesday, Carlos Tevez gets to show us just how much not playing 90 minutes could help him. His form this season has been fantastic — making an impact right from the word go and easily establishing himself in the Juventus squad. The goals are of course what will grab the headlines, but just about everything Carlitos has done so far has been impressive as hell.
And what better way to keep the very good form going than in the Turin derby, something Tevez has been educated on by a certain Turin native in recent weeks.
2. Who will start alongside Tevez?
We've seen Fernando Llorente brought into the mix now that Conte has deemed him fit to play on a regular basis. As a result, Mirko Vucinic's time on the field ever since the international break ended has been cut. The knee injury he suffered while on international duty with Montenegro is likely a big factor in that. Conte was very coy during the presser on Saturday when it comes to Vucinic's status for the derby. That could just be Conte being Conte and Vucinic is good to go, but we'll just have to wait and see on that.
3. Containing Alessio Cerci.
If you had Alessio Cerci being joint-top scorer in Serie A through the first five games of the season, then you should probably drop what you're doing right now, move to Las Vegas, and visit a couple of casinos. Or just go to one if your luck is clicking and the bets are paying out. But back to Cerci. He's just three goals behind the figure (8) he had all of last season, and is certainly one of the most in-form players in Serie A at the moment. He's looking right at home as a striker in Torino's 3-5-2 formation and his pace will certainly a point of emphasis for Juve's back three to contain.
4. How Paul Pogba plays in place of Andrea Pirlo.
Word on the street — or amongst those on the internet — is that the maestro will be rested with an eye on the Champions League tie against Galatasaray. My response: GOOD. Pirlo's form has been discussed in many a thread in recent weeks and keeping him fresh with so many games going on right now. That means Pogba, who has been filling in for Marchisio for almost the entire early part of the season, will slot back into a some see him filling on a regular basis in the not-so-distant future. Judging by the way the 20-year-old Frenchman has played this season, there's no reason to think he won't have some kind of impact on the result.
5. The Antonio Conte vs. Giampiero Ventura dynamic.
There has been a lot of talk about the two managers leading up to the derby. It makes sense, considering their past. One IVentura) took over for the other (Conte) at Bari and almost always of the same mind when it comes to tactics. It's something Mina Rzouki pointed out in her Friday column:
Both tacticians have achieved success with the 4-2-4 shape, both have tinkered with different formations and tactics and both have now settled for a 3-5-2 module.
Ventura, ever the revolutionary tactician, has decided to deploy a different shape on the pitch this season. Whilst he opted for a 4-2-4 formation for much of last year, towards the end of the season, we saw Ventura tinker quite a bit.
When Juventus and Torino take the field tomorrow afternoon at the Olimpico, Ventura will almost certainly throw out tactics that will emulate those of his counterpart on the Juventus sideline. And since Conte knows Ventura's tactics just about as well as anybody — and vice versa — the battle on the field will be just as interesting as the one going on between the two men roaming the sidelines and barking out orders to their players.
My starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pogba, Marchisio, Asamoah; Llorente, Tevez
OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 12:30 P.M. IN ITALY; 6:30 A.M. ON THE EAST COAST; 3:30 A.M. ON THE WEST COAST (lol)