Verona – Juventus – Preview and Prediction
Verona will be hoping to give captain Luca Toni the perfect send off at his home ground when they host Juventus at Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi on Sunday.
The 38-year-old veteran striker, who has scored 47 goals in 87 appearances since joining the Gialloblu three years ago, officially announced his retirement from football at the end of the season and there’s no doubt the former Italian international will be eyeing off a spectacular final hurrah to cap off what he described as the “worst season of my career”.
That, though, is a tough ask for Luigi Del Neri’s men, who, with just four wins and 13 draws this season, will be banished into second-tier football next season. That said, their previous win came in the form of a 2-1 victory over Milan when two second half strikes from Giampaolo Pazzini and Luca Siligardi sealed a memorable comeback win.
The odds are also stacked heavily against them, and rightly so. Verona have failed to win any of the clashes between the sides in the Serie A since the turn of the millennium. Further, the side have scored three goals in their last five matches and have conceded eight in the process.
Despite Juventus having already sealed the title, Del Neri’s job will not get any easier and it is largely expected that the champions will continue to play at full throttle in the hope of extending their unbeaten streak to 27 matches. The Old Lady have also won the last 10 since their 0-0 draw against Bologna in February.
Having scored 2.11 goals per match against Verona on average, one can reasonably expect a high scoring match with the last three wins against the Gialloblu coming in 3-0, 4-0 and 6-1 victories.
Despite that, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Hernanes, Mario Mandzukic and Paul Pogba are all suspended after all were booked in the win over Carpi on Sunday, taking them over the disciplinary threshold.
But for Verona, while the match presents a chance for a perfect send-off for Toni, a win could restore some pride in a dressing lacking morale. That won’t matter for the Bianconeri, though, who undoubtedly will be intent on ruining the party.
Keep an eye on: Luca Toni (Verona) – Having played 574 Serie A matches in his career thus far, Toni is evidently well below his prime. With just five goals to his name this season, he’d be the first to admit it. It’s not all over yet, though, and as he has so often done throughout his career, one would hope that he wraps up his career with a goal or two. And there’s no better time and place to do so in front of his home fans against the best Italian side in recent memory.
Form guide: Verona (L W L L L) Juventus (W W W W W)
Last season: Verona 2-2 Juventus
Stat fact: Verona have not scored an open play goal in Serie A since February against Chievo: each of Verona’s last six goals in the league have come from set pieces.
Verona (probable): Gollini; Pisano Bianchetti, Morasi, Emanuelson; Wszolek, Viviani, Ionita, Rebic; Toni, Gomez
Juventus (probable): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Rugani; Cuadrado Sturaro, Lemina, Asamoah, Alex Sandro; Dybala, Zaza
Suspended: Leichsteiner, Pogba, Mandzukic, Hernanes