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Juventus vs. Parma Preview: Round 11 — Taking care of business?

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Valerio Pennicino

One of the benefits of being part of the SB Nation soccer crew is that it's a total melting pot of folks who root for different teams. There's EPL lovers, Bundesliga lovers, Serie A lovers, all kinds of people with all kinds of different rooting interests. One of the members of the Serie A crew on the mothership is Jack Sargeant, a well known Parma supporter who isn't afraid to let you know about it.

So I posed to Mr. Sargeant a simple task: Describe Parma's season in a word or two. This is what followed:

After watching Parma through the first quarter of the 2014-15 Serie A, it's hard to disagree with him. (Even about the Mauri part maybe.) Through their first 10 games, Parma has allowed a league-high 21 goals. Through their first 10 games, Parma has won all of two games and lost eight. Through their first 10 games, Parmas has been a complete mess.

That's the nuts-and-bolts of how Parma's season has gone thus far.

It's been bad, really bad. They've already lost to teams like Sassuolo, Torino, Cesena and Atalanta. (They've also lost to Genoa, but Juventus can't exactly laugh at one, huh.) In those losses, they've scored all of two goals. This is why a club like Parma, which would be participating in the Europa League this season after finishing sixth last season if not for their own mistakes over the summer, has stooped to one point out of dead last through the first 10 rounds of the 2014-15 Serie A campaign.

So where does Juventus play into this?

Well, Juve play the boys from the land of prosciutto tomorrow afternoon in Turin. It's the team with the three-point lead atop the Serie A table playing the squad that is sitting on just six points in 10 games to begin the season. Much like last weekend against Empoli, it's a game that has everything on paper telling us Juventus should win with the utmost of ease.

Of course, as we've come to see this season, Juventus don't always do things the way logic tells us they should. Remember when we thought they would probably beat Sassuolo? Well, so much for that. And when we thought they'd get past Genoa? Well, yeah.

It's one of those things were Juve should steamroll Parma because one side is good and the other isn't. Ah, but that's we throw out that age-old cliche of "That's why they play the game, lads!"

GOOD NEWS

Juventus used a 4-3-1-2 formation Tuesday night. Juventus won while using a 4-3-1-2 formation Tuesday night.

BAD NEWS

Let's see who's missing this game and why:

  • Patrice Evra, injured
  • Kwadwo Asamoah, injured
  • Luca Marrone, injured
  • Andrea Barzagli, injured
  • Martín Cáceres, injured
  • Arturo Vidal, suspended

Jesus, that's a long list. In a way, the international break is coming at a good time. You'd like that at least a couple of those injured players will be back when Juve travels to Rome to play Lazio on Nov. 22.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

1. Max Allegri sticking with the four-man defense.

This is the big one. And it's for one big reason: If Allegri does stick with a 4-3-1-2/4-4-2/whatever you want to call it, then we've got a whole new situation on our hands. You would think that if the four-man defense was deemed on overriding success — and it has to be — then there's no reason Allegri would go back to the 3-5-2 formation he used during his first two months as Juventus manager. Let's just take a look at the lineup that the Gazzetta dello Sport was throwing out there Friday night. No, really, take a look and think of the possibilities.

Juve XI vs. Parma?

Well, well, well. Consider me slightly — or very much — interested in what that potential lineup entails. Outside of Vidal missing out for the obvious reason of suspension, that's about as good of a lineup as you can field right now. There's no arguing that, right?

2. Where does Carlos Tévez start?

In all honesty, the above lineup has me hoping that scenario becomes a reality. However, as this post is being sent live to the interwebs, we don't know for sure if Carlitos will be a striker or playing behind the two forwards. There's no doubting that if Tévez is fielded as an ACM behind a potential Llorente-Morata partnership because he is able to contribute on the defensive end as much as on offense. I mean, we don't need to look around all that much to notice how much Tévez runs around and just busts his tail. Plus, when you think about Tévez setting the table for Morata and Llorente to try and score goals, it's a very, very interesting idea. So, Max, what you gonna do?

3. How a potential Fernando Llorente and Álvaro Morata partnership works up top.

As much as I am interested in seeing Tévez play behind a pair of strikers, I am quite interested in Morata and Llorente teaming up to form the good-looking-Spaniard strike partnership up top against Parma tomorrow night at Juventus Stadium. This is what Allegri had to say about the two of them:

And maybe that's why seeing them play alongside one another is an interesting prospect. As much as we've been saying "MORATA FOR LLORENTE GIT R DUN!" and have one Spanish striker replace the other in the starting lineup, they aren't a like-for-like kind of deal like some may think. Allegri is right in his less-than-140-character summation of the two strikers. Morata isn't an out-and-out prima punta, not by any means. Maybe that's why I think a partnership with Llorente could work. And what a better time to try it out than against the team with the worst statistical defense in all of Serie A?

4. If Max Allegri goes with a four-man defense, who's starting at left back?

No Asamoah, no Evra, no natural left back available for Allegri to select. That means our choices are a former left back who rarely plays there and is terribly out of form at the moment (Giorgio Chiellini), a center back who has played left back about twice in the past 18 months (Angelo Ogbonna) and everybody's favorite punchline who can otherwise be known as Mr. Average Simone Padoin). That's not exactly a trio of inspiring choices, but that's pretty much what Allegri has to choose from right now. Against a team that has struggled like Parma, I guess we can say Juve will be able to get away with fielding one of those three as a left back.

As always, thanks for the help, Max.

5. Building off the win over Olympiacos.

Outside of the tactics and formation Allegri uses, this is probably the most important thing. Do goals help? Yeah, of course. But if Juventus can avoid any kind of Champions League hangover and actually build off what they did at Juventus Stadium on Tuesday night, then they should feel good about things heading into the international break. Easier said then done, of course, but this is one heck of a chance to continue to forward progress that was made midweek in the Champions League. It doesn't matter if people are suddenly thinking Parma are "back" after they beat Inter 2-0 last weekend. This is about Juventus looking like they're an actual competitive squad again rather than one that's slogging through the slush like was the case a few weeks ago.

My starting XI (4-3-1-2): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Ogbonna, Chiellini; Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio Pereyra, Marchisio, Pogba; Tévez; Morata, Llorente

OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 3 P.M. IN ITALY; 9 A.M. ON THE EAST COAST; 6 A.M. ON THE WEST COAST