Kick Off Saturday March 7, 20:30 CET, Stadio Olimpico Turin
The Only Way Is Up For Torino
Torino have enjoyed a good 2009 so far. After two early defeats at the start of the year to Genoa and Roma, the Granata have stopped the slide towards Serie B. Walter Novellino has finally managed to get Toro back on the right track. Unbeaten in seven games, there is real belief that Juventus' bitter city rivals will live to fight another season in Italy's top-flight. However, there are still 11 games before Urbano Cairo's men can wave the safety flag.
Although Toro are slowly climbing back up the table, they are still just one point clear of the relegation zone. A win against Juve this Saturday will give the team a massive psychological boost. Serie A salvation is never easy. Despite being on the right track, the Granata are just not picking up enough wins. Only five victories all season does not make for inspirational reading in terms of dodging relegation. In there last six matches, Torino have only picked up one win. That was at home to Udinese two weeks ago. The rest have been draws with Cagliari, Chievo, Reggina, Lazio and Inter. Torino really should have beaten the first three teams as they are direct rivals for the survival places.
The only way is up for Toro, but the raging bull will need to learn how to beat the Old Lady. Traditionally, Juventus have always had the better record against Novellino's men, but the derby della Mole has always been a special affair. The Piedmont-based team shouldn't be surprised if they bag all three points against Juve. The Bianconeri won the reverse 1-0 thanks to a solitary strike from Amauri. Anything less than a win then it's back down into the drop zone. It will be a 90 minutes of fire for the 'home' side, and they will be hoping Juve get burnt this time.
Too Many Distractions For Juventus
The Bianconeri have had a very busy last two weeks. Their focus on all fronts has been affected as a result. Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League matches have taken their toll on the the team and there will be no respite for them this weekend either. It really is a case of make or break for Claudio Ranieri's men. First up is a battling Torino side who will not give up without a fight. More than just city bragging rights are up at stake as failure to secure maximum points will allow Inter to begin laughing again after all the midweek hype.
Juventus cannot afford to let their focus slip up against Toro. The Bianconeri head into the game having lost to Lazio in the Coppa Italia first-leg semi-final and confidence is not at its highest. Add to that matters off the pitch regarding the war of words with Inter and Jose Mourinho, as well as the Champions League clash with Chelsea, and there is a potential cloud of distraction gathering over Vinovo. However, having already beaten Saturday's opponents earlier this season, Juve should be able to do the job confidently without hesitation.
Ranieri has come under some heavy fire recently as the Bianconeri's hopes of silverware have been put in doubt. A win on Saturday night is needed in order to silence the critics and restore some pride and hope. In addition, victory against Torino can help spur the Old Lady on to overturn their Chelsea deficit just three days later. It's a crucial stage of the season, and time to get things right for all involved with Italy's most famous club.
Mar 1: Cagliari 0-0 Torino
Feb 22: Torino 1-0 Udinese
Feb 14: Lazio 1-1 Torino
Feb 8: Torino 1-1 Chievo
Feb 1: Inter 1-1 Torino
Feb 28: Juventus 1-0 Napoli
Feb 21: Palermo 0-2 Juventus
Feb 15: Juventus 1-1 Sampdoria
Feb 8: Catania 1-2 Juventus
Jan 31: Juventus 2-3 Cagliari
Alessandro Rosina is fighting for a starting role against Juventus. The No. 10 has been impressive in training this week and he could come into contention. Elvis Abbruscato, Aimo Diana and Marco Di Loreto are all unavailable, while Paolo Zanetti serves a one match suspension.
Probable Starting XI 4-4-1-1: Sereni, Colombo, Natali, Pisano, Ogbonna, Saumel, Dzemaili, Corini, Abate, Bianchi, Stellone.
Giorgio Chiellini worked apart from the rest of the squad on Thursday after suffering from muscle fatigue, but he should be back for the game against Torino. Zdenek Grygera and Marco Marchionni also trained separately but they are likely to start. Nicola Legrottaglie is suspended while Mauro Camoranesi, Paolo De Ceglie, Cristiano Zanetti, Tiago and Jorge Andrade are all injured.
Probable Starting XI 4-4-2: Buffon, Grygera, Mellberg, Chiellini, Molinaro, Marchionni, Sissoko, Marchisio, Nedved, Del Piero, Trezeguet.
Players To Watch
Torino: Keep an eye on former Manchester City flop Rolando Bianchi. He has scored four goals for Toro this term. The big target man is likely to cause the Juve back line some trouble and he has the ability to score when it's least expected.
Juventus: David Trezeguet is the one Torino will be monitoring closely. The Frenchman is itching to score again after his showing against Palermo. The problem has been the constant changing from Ranieri. If 'Trezegol' starts then he will all but guarantee a goal for his side.
With Juventus having the Chelsea Champions League distraction hanging over them, this could be a chance for Torino to take full advantage. The Bianconeri are likely to have one eye on Europe and it may prove to be their demise. Juve have a lot of work this weekend. Local derbies are never easy, but they have enough quality to do the business.
Torino 1-2 Juventus
Salvatore Landolina, Goal.com