Serie A Week 27 - 7/3/09 (19.30 UK)
Torino - Juventus
Torino are unbeaten in seven matches – although six were draws – and have pulled out of the trapdoor places after six weeks contemplating a return to Serie B. Can they maintain their mini-revival in the 165th Derby della Mole to be played in Serie A?
There have been 224 derbies in total and Juventus lead the way with 88 wins to 74 for Torino, but on the eve of the 225th, confidence is high in the Toro camp. Coach Walter Novellino has declared that he would give up his wages for a victory while Eugenio Corini – a former Juve player – has taunted his old team by claiming that the Bianconeri are scared of losing this game.
There may be a shred of truth in that statement. La Vecchia Signora have seen the gap between themselves and Serie A leaders Inter cut to just seven points and are desperate not to slip-up now that they have started to reel the Nerazzurri in. There is also the small matter of their Champions League Second Round match with Chelsea next week, in which they will have to try and fight back from 1-0 down. It will be preying on their mind as they prepare for the big Turin face-off.
The fixture has a long and intriguing history, but in recent years the Zebras have had the better of the Bulls. You have to trawl back over a decade to April 1995 for the last time the Granata got the better of their illustrious rivals – a 2-1 win that completed a famous double. Another depressing statistic for the Toro faithful – they have not even scored a single goal past Juve since Benoit Cauet’s conversion in 2002, a run that covers five matches.
The last meeting came back in October 2008, and on that occasion it was Amauri who made himself a hero to the Bianconeri faithful by netting the winner. This fixture last season saw more heartbreak for the ‘home’ side as David Trezeguet struck in the 93rd minute to snatch a late win for Claudio Ranieri.
Long-term casualty Elvis Abbruscato has been sharing the treatment table with defenders Claudio Rivalta and Marco Di Loreto, midfielder Aimo Diana and striker Nicola Ventola. Midfielder Paolo Zanetti serves a one-match ban.
Juventus must do without the suspended Nicola Legrottaglie – but as luck would have it the blond-stopper is injured. Jorge Andrade is still a long way from returning but has had company in the Bianconeri sick bay from defender Paolo De Ceglie and midfielders Cristiano Zanetti and Mauro Camoranesi.
Keep an eye on: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) – With Toro having gone 460 minutes without scoring against their city rivals the Juve ‘keeper could expect a quiet evening. But keep an eye on him as it could just as easily mean he has a lot of work on his hands as the Toro strikers pepper his goal attempting to end the drought.
Last season: Torino 0-1 Juventus
Form guide: Torino (D D D W D) Juventus (L W D W W)
Torino (probable): Sereni; Rubin, Dellafiore, Natali, Colombo; Gasbarroni, Dzemaili, Corini, Abate; Rosina; Bianchi