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Juventus vs Palermo
If you were to ask me right now, as I sit down to write this match preview, which fixture I am thinking about more, Friday against Palermo or Wednesday’s trip to Portugal to face Porto, I think the answer is pretty easy to figure out. In one corner you have Juventus playing a relegation battler they should beat with a second-string starting lineup. In the other corner you have the first leg of a Champions League Round of 16 tie that we have been waiting to see happen for months now.
The visitors have earned just 14 points in 24 matches this season as they sit in the relegation zone as one of the prime favourites for relegation. Their win over Crotone (1-0) earlier this month has made it just three wins and five draws, as they’ve suffered 16 losses in the process! Palermo have looked somewhat better on the road, though, but we don’t feel they can make their away day to Juventus count in their struggles to escape the red zone.
While they would be all starting with a different scheme, only two between Sami Khedira, Claudio Marchisio and Miralem Pjanic would feature with 4-2-3-1. The Bosnian has been held out lately because of a sore foot, but nothing too serious since he still made some cameos. The most logical candidate for resting would be Khedira, but we will see as the coach praised him for being able to pace himself. Mario Lemina played few minutes against Cagliari, so there are plenty of options available to switch to a more numerous midfield.
No Mandzukic means that Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala will have to wait to get their day off. Dybala will be facing his former team, which is usually always very motivating. The main point for Juventus will have to be focusing on the current opponent and not look ahead at the Porto clash.