Juventus vs. Torino Preview: Round 25 — Time to paint the town black and white (again)

Valerio Pennicino

Claudio Marchisio is a guy who knows about the Derby della Mole better than any other player on the Juventus roster outside of maybe Sebastian Giovinco. The Turin-born Marchisio has basically been a part of the Juventus-Torino since he learned how to walk. Can you imagine little Claudio walking around while sporting tiny Nikes he just got out of the box with a Alex Del Piero jersey on and getting yelled by his mom to take his boots off in the house?

Now a 28-year-old, Marchisio is still rocking a pair of slick Nike boots and a Juve kit, this one with the No. 8 on the back of it. He also had this to say about the Derby della Mole, which comes to Juventus Stadium on Sunday night.

"Honestly, it is a different derby, they are a team that has a Coach who has given them an identity to their play, they have strengthened and it shows in the League.

"This is a derby that won't be easy, and even if the others were easier, there has never been an easy derby.

"Toro have been improving from year to year. It is going to be a tough and difficult match."

(Source: Football Italia)

He also has this to say about tomorrow's derby — in a little more of an entering fashion than his business-like quotes to Mediaset.

This. That. And the other thing. Right, Claudio?

Juventus vs. Torino is a little more meaningful the second time around this season not just because it's the fellas in black and white stripes that are the home team, but because of what Toro have become this season. If you thought Torino would be sitting three points outside of a European spot, then you're a genus. If not, then you're just as surprised as everybody else.

Torino's hot streak up the Serie A table has them in the midst of their best season in over 20 years and are currently sitting in sixth place entering the weekend's set of games. That means on top of this being a city rivalry that has had its fair share of intensity over the years, there's just that something extra on the line come tomorrow night at Juventus Stadium.

Maybe Claudio will be able to talk about more goals that were scored against Torino. Won't find me complaining about that one bit.

GOOD NEWS

Juventus unbeaten run update: 16 games, 43 goals scored, 9 goals allowed.

This has been a Juventus unbeaten run update.

BAD NEWS

Injuries. Still.

Giorgio Chiellini? Still not ready to go. Mirko Vucinic? Nope, not available. Andrea Barzagli? Seems ready to go based on word out of Italy on Saturday, but no official word has been announced as of posting time. Sorry, folks.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

1. How Juventus do with the short turnaround.

By the time Juve-Toro kicks off, it will have been less than 72 hours since Antonio Conte's squad was playing in Europe. The rest between Europa League and Serie A is basically the equivalent to Juve playing on a Saturday and then having a Champions League match on a Tuesday. That's two training sessions and then back to the field for one of the most intense games of the season. Not exactly ideal, but that's just reality with the way the schedule has shaken out. How Juve start the game may not be the biggest issue, but how they finish is certainly something to pay attention to. If Conte's men have the legs, then yet another Turin derby victory could very well be coming their way.

2. The Ciro Immobile/Alessio Cerci Factor.

Two players, 24 goals between them. Cerci was on absolute fire to begin the season, and now it's Immobile's turn to score goals like a madman. Each of them have carried Toro at times this season. And it's become less and less of a surprise that when Immobile and/or Cerci find the back of the net, Torino are usually coming away with points. No matter who's playing defense for Juventus tomorrow — more on that in a little bit — they will be going up against a pair of strikers who are two of the most productive in the league. You know that Cerci and Immobile will be more than willing to take advantage of the defensive lapses that Trabzonspor didn't against Juve. If they happen, of course.

3. The Fernando Llorente/Carlos Tevez Factor.

It's not very often that four of the top 11 scorers in Serie A all start on the same field, but that's what we get to see tomorrow night. Tevez and Llorente have combined for 23 goals this season — with Carlitos sitting level on 13 goals with Immobile, one behind the currently injured Beppe Rossi. Llorente's 10 goals are nothing to laugh at, either, as he continues to show his worth as games go by this season. If you had to choose between the two pairs, Tevez-Llorente would certainly win hands down. And when it comes to big games like tomorrow, you want your best players to show why they're regarded as exactly that.

Sounds good to me, Fernando.

4. Who starts in place of Giorgio Chiellini, Martin Caceres or Angelo Ogbonna?

While the BBC three-man defense isn't back to full strength just yet, there's at least one positive development — Andrea Barzagli looks set to return to the starting lineup. But because you've read most of the preview already, you knew that before you got to this here point. That means Caceres and Ogbonna are vying for one spot and one spot only in tomorrow's starting lineup. Will Ogbonna get the chance to play against his former club for the first time since his move to the other side of the rivalry? Or will Caceres slide across the defense and play in place of Chiellini for the first time in quite awhile? Some say the former, others say the latter. Sounds like it's decision time for Il Mister.

5. Turnover in the Juventus lineup: Non-defense edition.

There will be some people who will hear announcers say "Juve have made a number of changes from the lineup that faced Trabzonspor on Thursday" and assume something is wrong. In fact, it's quite the contrary. More than ever, it's basically coming down to business getting back to normal. Fernando Llorente coming in for Dani Osvaldo is basically a given. So is Stephan Lichtsteiner for Mauricio Isla and Kwadwo Asamoah for Federico Peluso. That could very well mean the only big decision Conte has to make outside of Caceres or Ogbonna is who starts in the center of the midfield. Does Claudio Marchisio get to play a big part in the game against his wife's favorite team? Seems to be the case — it's just a matter of at whose expense.

My starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Llorente, Tevez

OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 6:30 P.M. IN ITALY; 12:30 P.M. ON THE EAST COAST; 9:30 A.M. ON THE WEST COAST

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