Both teams go into this exciting early-season encounter with a 100% record after respectively winning their opening two games. After an uncertain summer with a change of Coach, and breakdown in relations between certain players and club, Lazio has quietly set about its task in the quest to become the dominant side in the Eternal City once again.
Juventus are still enjoying their honeymoon period under Coach Ciro Ferrara. Fêted by the fans, the Press, and even UEFA President Michel Platini, the Bianconeri can do no wrong. A tricky fixture away to Roma in their last game saw the Old Lady raise her game to a level not seen since the Fabio Capello era, and will look to do a Roman double in successive weeks. Games between these sides have always been intense affairs. Juve remain undefeated since their last defeat by Lazio, with the Turin giants winning 2-0 at home in the last game of the 2008/09 season in what, quite fittingly, was Pavel Nedvěd’s farewell game.
Lazio – Like the last Serie A game against Chievo, Coach Davide Ballardini will field virtually the same starting XI with the exception of central defender Emilson Cribari, who serves a one-match suspension for his red card against the Flying Donkeys. French youngster Mobido Diakhité will slot in to play alongside Stefan Radu in the heart of the Lazio defence. Ex-Napoli playmaker Matuzalém again provides the link between midfield and attack, with wily striker Julio Cruz retaining his place alongside compatriot Mauro Zárate after his match-winning performance in his side’s last outing. Zárate himself though faces a race against time to prove his fitness after an injury scare in Monday morning’s training session, pulling up after tweaking his upper thigh.
2 Lichsteiner – 87 Diakhité – 26 Radu – 11 Kolarov
6 Dabo – 33 Baronio – 5 Mauri
74 Cruz – 10 Zárate
Juventus – Juve Tactician Ferrara’s current approach is: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. So, he won’t. Like his counterpart on Sunday, he too will start with an almost-identical starting line-up which outclassed Roma before the international break. The only change sees Mauro Camoranesi restored to the right of midfield at the expense of the much-improved Tiago. A recurring thigh injury continues to sideline club captain Alessandro Del Piero, and Ferrara may opt to rest Vincenzo Iaquinta after a tough run of domestic and international games. This may see the introduction of David Trezéguét to start alongside Amauri up front. Regular Azzurri left-back Fabio Grosso – signed just before the closure of the transfer window – may appear as a substitute, which means that Paolo De Ceglie continues in his role following his impressive run of form of late. Long-term absentees include the likes of Mohamed Sissoko and Hasan Salihamidžić.
21 Grygera – 5 Cannavaro – 3 Chiellini – 29 De Ceglie
16 Camoranesi – 8 Marchisio – 4 Melo
17 Trezéguét – 11 Amauri
Both Coaches will adopt their favoured 4-3-1-2 formations, however, the only difference being that Lazio will revert to a 4-4-2 when defending the game, unlike Ferrara who sticks with the same system throughout the course of the game. The Biancoceleste will look to their defence to remain strong against a perceived Juve onslaught, as their resolute displays have carried them to their opening two wins. Many thought the exclusion of Macedonian forward Goran Pandev would hamper Lazio’s potency in front of goal, however, the understanding between Cruz and Zárate seems to have worked wonders, and throw in Tommaso Rocchi, and you have a very useful strikeforce. Each member of the Juve squad has settled into a system which allows them to remain comfortable in their roles on and off the ball. Diego will again be the fulcrum of the Juve attack, while Azzurri captain Fabio Cannavaro will look to add to his two world-class performances since his return.