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Juventus vs. Genoa Preview: Round 9 — Pesto alla Genovese

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Valerio Pennicino

If you were to guess how many wins Juventus has over Genoa in the last six games, what would you say? Seeing as how dominant is Serie A they've been the last three years, it hasn't to be pretty good, right? So probably like five or six wins over Genoa, nothing less because clearly that would be crazy talk!

Well, here's the reality:

Juventus wins vs. Genoa the last three years: 3

Juventus draws vs. Genoa the last three years: 3

No losses to any team is a good thing, obviously. But it's not like having as many draws as wins against a side like Genoa is something to brag about at the end of the day. It might have been more draws than wins if not for an Andrea Pirlo free kick wonder and a Gigi Buffon penalty save in last season's visit to the Luigi Ferraris.

Here's another thing: Juventus and Genoa will meet for the first time this season on Wednesday night. Both teams are coming off wins against teams they were expected to beat — Juventus with a 2-0 win over Palermo and Genoa a 2-1 victory over Chievo. Both teams have two wins in their last three games. Both teams are going to play a three-man defense. And, as you can see, I'm grasping at straws as to where to go with this thought process, so I'll stop now.

Max Allegri knows that Genoa has played some decent football this season. That's because he told us so.

I agree, Max. And, please, what ever your guys do tomorrow, don't do anything stupid. Play it like Sunday and have a nice, solid win that isn't anything close to last week's stupidity in Greece.

GOOD NEWS

A quick look at the Serie A table tells us this:

Juventus: 22 points

Roma: 19 points

That's good, isn't it? I think it is.

BAD NEWS

Injuries are stupid, but you already knew this one, I'm sure.

Even with Luca Marrone back from his lengthy injury absence, the injury list seems to be growing by the week. Patrice Evra is the latest to be added to the group of injured players after being ruled out for a month with a thigh strain. Max Allegri said Tuesday he's hoping to get Martín Cáceres back for the return fixture against Olympiacos, while Andrea Barzagli is still a long-term absentee.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

1. Gigi Buffon and Juventus appearance No. 500.

You'd think I'd pass up the opportunity to heap praise on the man who currently rocks the captain's armband at Juventus? Nahhhh. Let's talk about San Gigi, folks.

Gigi approved

When Buffon leads Juventus out of the tunnel tomorrow night at the Luigi Ferraris, it will be his 500th match in a Juventus (goalkeeper) jersey. It's somewhat fitting that it's against Genoa and Mattia Perin, who many people are pointing toward to be the next great Italian goalkeeper whenever Buffon decides to hang up his slick-looking Puma gloves. But let's not forget what San Gigi did the last time he was on this very field in Genoa, either. Just another reason why Buffon is Buffon. And another reason as to why he's the G.O.A.T. no matter what some people may say. May his 500th career game with Juventus be a successful one.

2. Who's in the mood for some squad rotation?

I bring up squad rotation because we're in the middle of another hectic three-plus-week period of games with no much rest in between. It's also being brought up because Max Allegri brought it up at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

I don't want to totally read into it, but I would think one area he's looking at is the center of the midfield. Paul Pogba was rested over the weekend against Palermo, which means he's as close to a lock as he can be to be back in the starting lineup Wednesday night. Does that mean Andrea Pirlo will get a rest? Or maybe Arturo Vidal? To have options in midfield — unlike in defense these days — is a nice problem for Allegri to have right now, but also means find playing time for all four of said players. I just hope Claudio Marchisio is one of the three players starting in the center of the midfield. That guy deserves to play as much as anybody else with the kind of form he's on right now.

3. Will it be Fernando Llorente or Álvaro Morata alongside Carlos Tévez?

At last we can talk about Llorente scoring s goal. It's been a long seven weeks, one filled with questions of "Will 'Nando start this weekend?" or "Can things get any worse for Llorente?" But there's another question to throw out there: Which starting striker not named Carlos Tévez will we be talking about when the final whistle sounds tomorrow night? It's a very good possibility that one of the squad rotation moves is switching Morata in for Llorente despite the fact that the latter finally broke his goal-scoring drought over the weekend. Do you go with the guy who showed well in the Champions League last week? Or do you go with the guy whose confidence is likely soaring after breaking the personal duck? Decision time for Max, that's for sure.

4. Keeping an eye on Stefano Sturaro.

When Juventus signed Sturaro for €5 million this summer, the majority of folks said, "Huh?" Sturaro was acquired from Genoa on a permanent basis and loaned right back to them the second the ink dried on his new contract. Even though Juve he just shelled out a decent amount of money for him, we didn't know Sturaro all the well at the time. But now that we're aware that Sturaro actually exists, we know who he is now and we know that he's actually a fairly solid player at the tender age of 21. And while his status for tomorrow night's match is still up in the air after Genoa's 2-1 win over Chievo last weekend, you know he's going to want to try and impress his parent club. Who wouldn't? Simone Zaza certainly likes playing against Juventus...

5. Revenge of the Ale Matri.

In 30 Serie A games with Milan and Fiorentina last season, Matri scored five goals. In seven games (four starts) with Genoa this season, Matri has scored four goals. I'd say it's a pretty good improvement, even if the sample size is still relatively small this year. He's expected to start in the center of Genoa's three-man attack tomorrow night, which means there's the age-old question being brought up once more. Yep, "What kind effect is the Ex Effect going to have?" In two starts against Juventus last season, Matri didn't do much of anything. That could be a sign of how bad Matri was last season, or maybe that's what going to continue to happen as the months and years go by. But we also know that things get a little funny when former Juve players face old teammates.

My starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Ogbonna, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Marchisio, Pogba, Asamoah; Tévez, Morata

OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 8:45 P.M. IN ITALY; 3:45 P.M. ON THE EAST COAST; 12:45 P.M. ON THE WEST COAST