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Round 26 (25): Look Out For Flying Donkeys

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Before we begin, I hope you're all enjoying the new digs. When Aaron asked me to write for the Offside right around a year ago, he mentioned the opportunity that it would be with the SB Nation switch. It took a bit longer than planned, ultimately with far less notice than I expected, but here we are. It's going to be strange being in a new place and, of course, learning a whole new blogging system thing, but I'll get the hang of it. In the meantime, bare with me please.

Anyway, this past tumultuous week saw the Bianconeri pick up a precious point at the San Siro against Milan, while a total of seven of our players would represent ItaLoLia versus the United States, and...well, you know the rest. Milan remain one point ahead, despite one game in hand for Juventus, and this present a golden opportunity as we face the Flying Donkeys at home. Yes, Chievo arrives in Turin, enough to placate us while we anxiously await the other Veronese team to emerge from the wine cellar. Chievo has often proven pesky for me the past few years. Last time they held us to another predictable drab draw, although finally our favorite ventriloquist dummy didn't kill us -- the match, after all, ended scoreless.

Avanti!!!

Bad news: Diego Simone Pepe, who is defying all logic and continuing the trend of contributing much to the side when he steps on the pitch, is out due to suspension. Arturo Vidal will be joining him in the stands, as he decided to do his best impression of you-know-who.

Good news: Three words -- No. Sergio. Pellissier.

Le chiavi: If Chievo play a narrowish 4-3-2-1 formation, once again, Juventus may wish to exploit that with width. While the 3-5-2 has been Conte's weapon of choice recently, if he tries that again, I swear I might murder someone cry. Luckily, all signs are a return to the 4-3-3, which should allow our fullbacks and wide front players to stretch out the Chievo defense. This will work out if they opt to employ a modified 4-4-2 instead. Not having Pellissier to worry about up front will certainly be a luxury to full take advantage of. Perhaps it's time to unleash the Martin? Yup. I think so.

My starting XI: (4-3-3) Gigi; Marty, Georgie, Dre, Forrest; Mr. Brown, Bon Pirlo, Principino; Dutch-Ghost-Killah, A-Mat, Hermie doesn't wanna make toys.

Caceres is yet to play again in Serie A since returning, although his first feature was a good one. While he was primarily a right-sided player during his first stint, he plays left back normally for Uruguay. The prospect of him mirroring Lichtsteiner on the opposite side is simply mouth-watering.

Meanwhile, I'm going with Elia (duh) and Giaccherini serving as the wide-attacking players, as both offer creative alternatives to the industrious first-choice preference normally utilized by Conte. Use tricky, offensive-minded players against a disciplined, stingy, provincial side who will prefer to travel to Turin playing for a draw? I know, I'm talking crazy now.

Finally, my choice to fill in for the gaping, near vital (ha!) hole we'll have in midfield, is Luca Marrone. Why? Because he's young, more of a natural center midfielder, he's played well when called upon, and can stand to get some more first-team minutes. Plus, the alternative seems to be moving Giaccherini back there, while I far prefer him in a more advanced role.

Oh, and for the love of God, enough is enough. Keep "Big-Game-Mirko" on the big bench in the dressing room.

Juventus probable XI (according to TMW): (4-3-3) Buffon; De Ceglie, Chiellini, Barzagli, Caceres (say what?!); Marchisio, Pirlo, Giaccherini; Vucinic [ :'-( ], Matri, Quagliarella.

Chievo probable XI: (4-4-1-1) Sorrentino; Drame, Acerbi, Andreolli, Sardo; Cruzado, Hetemaj, Rigoni, Bradley; Thereau, Paloschi.