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Genoa v. Juventus: "Battle Royal"

As news of Amauri’s left knee ligament damage broke, pardon the pun, its impact on the starting line-up ahead of Sunday’s lunchtime away match against Genoa was non-existent, much like the forward’s Serie A goals record this season. On the other end of the spectrum lies the wonderfully tanned Fabio Quagliarella who perhaps has already made a sufficient case for Juventus to sign him permanently next season. The on-loan striker has shown his ability to be one of Serie A’s most dynamic goal scorers, and has found the type of consistency that his €10.5 million price-tag warrants.

Joining Quagliarella in attack against the Rossoblu appears to be a close call between Vincenzo Iaquinta and Alessandro Del Piero. The reason being is that although no one could argue Vincenzo isn’t the more physical and taller of the two, the presence of one Andrea Ranocchia might influence Del Neri’s approach where Alex’s control on the ball could make the difference. Essentially, it boils down to how highly you rate the young centre-back, or whether you believe your team should change certain elements based on their opponents.

The answer to this question lies in our midfield. Going back to the games against Brescia and Roma, Simone Pepe solidified himself a small place in my heart. The lad’s direct running effectively filled the void left by Milos Milos Krasic Krasic, and his crossing was so consistent that it became a joy to watch. However, Pepe exceeded the yellow card limit and is suspended for this match after the one he received against the Giallorossi. His supply will be missed.

On the other hand, Juventus regained the services of Davide Lanzafame who before he made an appearance against Brescia, had only played thirty-two minutes in the season’s opener against Bari. Hasan Salihamidzic is also another option. He came on as a substitute in the second half of both the Cesena and Brescia games and bagged an assist on Iaquinta’s third goal of the campaign. However as it stands, both options represent a little bit of uncertainty as each player has yet to see some meaningful game time.

Unfortunately for the two of them, they might not see some added playing time at the Marassi as Milos Krasic might be available from the start. According to reports, Krasic began to gradually practice with the team midweek and managed a full day’s worth on Friday, including the likes of Claudio Marchisio. If Krasic is indeed fit, then chances are Del Neri would look to apply some added pressure on Genoa’s defense in the form of the physical Iaquinta. Given the fact that Ranocchia played ninety minutes in Italy’s mid-week friendly against Romania, as did Alberto Aquilani, Luigi will probably opt to play to his team’s strengths, literally.

"If there is the slightest risk, then Krasic will not play and he’ll be on the bench. I want Milos to be in good shape for the next few games. The team has shown in other matches that it can get results even without him, so if he is feeling good then he’ll play, otherwise it will be Davide Lanzafame. The atmosphere is very intense and we must prepare for a big game. The Genoa fans will pour their energy into pushing the side forward.

We must be ready for a football battle royal against a side fired up by recent positive results. Juventus will take on Genoa in our own style, regardless of how they decide to play. The lunchtime kick-off is a first for us this season, so I hope my lads will be wide awake and not ready for a nap! We tested the new hours this week and it helped, but the toughest thing is eating a big meal very early." Del Neri's Press Conference

In the middle of the park, Felipe Melo continues on his road to recovery although certain elements of his game against Roma reminded the tifosi of his "bad brother" last season. While his defending was impressive, it seemed like he made some mistakes with possession as a result of trying something too difficult or thinking for too long. The truth is most of the turnovers committed weren’t Melo’s fault. Against Brescia, Momo Sissoko had a couple, Fabio Grosso seemed like he was afraid of time and space, Marco Motta tried to be too cute, and Leonardo Bonucci were to blame for some turnovers that Brescia rightly took advantage of and created scoring opportunities.

Against Roma, the team did give up a few turnovers as well, but what was very promising was our defending. While Roma enjoyed most of the possession, they did so mainly in front of Juventus’ eleven men. Also, you might be surprised to know that the Giallorossi failed to register one shot on goal in the entire second half. Shots were blocked, tackles were made, and most of all we stayed very organized throughout the match. Two banks of four, all day. Now while there were some things could be said about Sorensen going forward, we know that’s not his forte but at least the kid keeps trying.

Particular praise here goes out to Giorgio Chiellini who in the eyes of many has become one of, if not the, greatest defender in the world today. This kid could be the jewel of any team on earth if he wished and we’re lucky to have him in our colours. He never stops, he’s a machine really. Against Brescia he dominated, against Roma he dominated, and against every other team we play this year he’ll dominate them too. Luca Toni doesn’t stand a chance in hell.