I could sit here and think of something clever to say about the Derby della Mole to begin this match preview. Or, I could just throw things over to Juventus president Andrea Agnelli and let him describe things. And that's exactly what I'm doing.
Take it away, Mr. President...
"Juventus plays every match to win and to bring home three points. It must also be said that Torino hasn't been able to win or even score in a derby for 15 years."
(Source: Gianluca Di Marzio)
Shots fired? I think those are shots fired.
Let me check..
...Yeah, shots fired.
The Derby della Mole is always a battle no matter which way you look at it. And, in the grand scheme of things, that's what makes it such an old-school kind of derby. It doesn't matter if one club is in first place and the other is dead last in the table. It's two clubs that inhibit the same two who seem to always give each other a good game no matter what form each one is in. So even when you see things like Juventus going the last 16 games against Torino without a loss, it's pretty to read, but maybe doesn't sum up just how close some of the previous contests have been.
So when you see Juventus and Torino are already 19 points between one another, it might not tell the true story. I mean, it could easily be a 1-0 nail-biter as much as it could be 3-0 Juventus domination and some simple cruising to the finish line in the second half. Recent history tells us it will be more of the former than the latter, with four of the last six Turin derbies being decided by the close 1-0 scoreline.
That's just something that's always interesting about these inner-city battles.
Just when you think you've got them all figured, there's something that throws off that line of thinking.
Well, we do know one thing: Juventus will be playing for all three points. Andrea Agnelli told us that.
Juventus hasn't lost in the month of November, outscoring their opponents 17-2 in all competitions over that span.
I'd like to say that's pretty impressive, so I think I will. That's pretty darn impressive.
As we found out on Friday, midfielder/wingback Kwadwo Asamoah is the latest Juventus player to have been dealt a long-term injury diagnosis. He'll go under the knife to have surgery on his left knee in a couple days and will miss at least two months, with a return sometime in February the likely target date.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. Continued steps forward from Juventus.
We're nearly a month into Max Allegri's switch to a four-man defense and, outside of the first half against Malmö earlier in the week, there hasn't been a lot to go wrong. The goal differential — obviously with a lot of help from the Parma whoopin' a few weeks back — speaks for itself. Same goes for just the overall quality of how the team is playing at the moment. But derbies are never easy, especially against a side like Torino who don't mind uglying up the game and making things as physical as possible. And based on how little Toro have scored this season — just seven goals in 12 league matches — trying to do things the ugly way may well be their only chance to try and steal a point at Juventus Stadium. I'm sure a few people with black and white glasses don't want to see that happen.
2. The revenge of the Quags.
The Ex Effect is always an interesting thing to try and wrap our heads around. And then you have the Ex Effect come into play when you're facing a striker like Fabio Quagliarella, who makes goals you score in a friendly game of FIFA15 look like an absolutely normal thing. Quagliarella spent four years with Juventus, moving across town to Torino this past summer as the writing on the wall became even that much more obvious on the black and white side of Turin. He started out very well and was one of the top scorers in Serie A through the first month of the season. Since then, though, Quagliarella has cooled off when it comes to his goal tally, not finding the back of the net in league play since Toro's 1-0 win over Udinese on Oct. 19. But as we know, he's capable of the most unpredictable of goals at the most unpredictable of times. That's just Quags being Quags.
3. Álvaro Morata or Fernando Llorente?
It's tough to gauge how — or when — exactly Allegri plans on giving Juventus' big-money summer signing serious and consistent playing time from the opening whistle. With Llorente's form being not so great to start the season, you would have thought Morata would have played than just 230-something minutes in Serie A thus far. But that's the way things have gone with Allegri standing firm in starting Llorente no matter what kind of form he is in. So coming off what turned out to be the game-winning goal against Malmö midweek, I'd say the odds are in Llorente's favor to retain his starting spot. You just have to wonder about Morata and when his consistent playing time will come, though.
4. Will Roberto Pereyra get the start? If so, in favor of who?
I posed this same type of question in the Malmö preview, and it turned out Pereyra was the odd man out at the opening whistle. So we're going to try this again, with the hopes that Roberto Pereyra does find himself in the starting lineup this time around. If you were to take a gander at some of the predicted lineups in the Italian media, they are suggesting that Pereyra will be on the field from the opening whistle on Sunday. The only thing that differs is who will be making way for the 23-year-old Argentina in midfield. Some say it's Claudio Marchisio, others say Marchisio will slide into a regista role with Andrea Pirlo getting a rest. If it's on form alone, the choice on who Pereyra will be stepping in for is rather easy. But we'll have to wait and see on this one because the only thing we seem to have a good gut feeling on is Pereyra starting.
5. Spotlight on Patrice Evra at left back.
With Asamoah out for at least the next couple of months, we're bound to see a good number of Patrice Evra appearances in the starting lineup. Before he missed time with his own injury, Evra's performances were pretty much meh with a good sized side of meh and meh. It wasn't exactly the best kind of way top start his Juventus career. That could mean one of two things: 1) There's nowhere to go but up at this point; 2) It's going to be a long couple of months with Asamoah sidelined after knee surgery. I'll wait to see what Evra does at his more natural left back position now that Allegri has gone to the four-man defense. But if he struggles, at least we know Juventus can turn to Simone Padoin in the future ... right?
My starting XI (4-3-2-1): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Vidal, Marchisio, Pogba; Pereyra, Tévez; Llorente
OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 6 P.M. IN ITALY; HIGH NOON ON THE EAST COAST; 9 A.M. ON THE WEST COAST
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