Juventus welcome Udinese to Turin for this weekend’s crunch Serie A match: a battle which in all likelihood will show whether the Zebrette have finally turned a page regarding their away day blues.
Though they occupy third place, Francesco Guidolin’s men have so far only won twice on the road, recently losing to Genoa in a spectacular and chaotic encounter.
Juventus are clear favourites at 53/100, though a draw, priced at 11/4, seems to be an equally good option, as Udinese are likely to attempt to bring about a tactical stalemate.
These teams last met mere weeks ago in a tense tie at the Friuli in which Antonio Conte matched his opponents’ 3-5-2 formation, successfully stifling Udinese’s creativity.
This time, however, the setting will force the Juventus coach to adopt a more aggressive formation, which will inevitably open up space at the back.
Can Udinese exploit it? Their overall record on the road might not be amazing, but Guidolin’s men are certainly not iffy when it comes to finding the back of the net. At 29/20, the little Zebras are good money to score once in a match likely to produce few goals.
Del Piero is an impact player and still has what it takes to come on and bang in a goal at a crucial moment. Wouldn’t this game be such an occasion?
If the Zebras are going to score, it might be worth backing them to net more in the first half as opposed to the second, as on average they tend to strike around the half-hour mark. This eventuality is quoted at 13/4.
Were the visitors to open the scoring, Juventus’ chances should still not be underestimated.
Unbeaten all season, the Old Lady’s mental resilience has so far allowed her to claw back points in some tough situations, notoriously at the San Paolo, where Juventus came back from 3-1 down to scrape a point against Napoli.
Both teams will be glad they are missing very few vital cogs, though predicting Juventus’ scorers seems a tall order, as only one player has managed to net more than twice over the last ten games: Emanuele Giaccherini.
The former Cesena star has, however, found it hard to snatch a place in the starting line-up, but he might be worth backing to score last at 5/1 with a small sum, assuming he is named among the substitutes.
At 6/5, Alessandro Matri might be able to squeeze one in, as his form against the big clubs could stand him in good stead.
Having already netted against Palermo, Fiorentina and Napoli (twice in two matches), he could make a difference at the Juventus Stadium tonight.
On the visitors’ side, Antonio Di Natale’s record against the Bianconeri warrants caution: two goals since 2007 is in stark contrast to his free-scoring tendencies against most other opponents, so ignore the 6/5 on him netting at any time.
Meanwhile, Alessandro Del Piero set pulses racing with a beautiful effort in the Coppa Italia against Roma. Many people – myself included – have often sought to dismiss him in the past as a spent force, even as far back as 2004-05, when he was having trouble getting any games under Fabio Capello.
This naive interpretation fails to take into account exactly how much a title would mean to Pinturicchio, after spending years wandering around the mid-to-high part of the table.
He is an impact player and still has what it takes to come on and bang in a goal at a crucial moment. Wouldn’t this game be such an occasion? At 5/1, back him to score the last goal of the encounter and carry the team forward.
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