With Cesena providing the opposition for Massimiliano Allegri’s men on Sunday, it’s time to take a look at a trio of players who could cause the Old Lady problems in their upcoming league encounter at the Stadio Dino Manuzzi.
Despite currently sitting in 19th position, the Cavallucci Marini possess talent in abundance and have won two of their previous three Serie A outings, including a 2-1 victory over Lazio in their last game on home soil.
It’ll be far from a foregone conclusion once the first whistle sounds at 20.45 CET in Emilia-Romagna and Juventus will have to be wary of a potential banana skin as they continue their quest for a fourth consecutive Serie A title.
Here’s a look at the Cesena players that will endeavour to prove the difference for the hosts this weekend: Bianconeri-owned shotstopper Nicola Leali, veteran midfielder Franco Brienza and top scorer Gregoire Defrel.
Name: Nicola Leali
Having signed for Juventus from Brescia back in June 2012, goalkeeper Nicola Leali has spent the previous couple of years out on loan with Lanciano and Spezia, and is currently halfway through his spell with Cesena.
The 21-year-old has made 20 appearances in this 2014/15 season and immediately endeared himself to the home faithful by keeping a clean sheet against Emilia-Romagna rivals Parma on his official Serie A debut in August.
Leali has impressed between the sticks throughout his loan stint at the Dino Manuzzi and is renowned for his ability to save penalties, having kept out two spot-kicks so far this campaign.
Touted as a star of the future, he was also part of the Azzurrini’s 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship squad that finished runners-up to Spain in Israel.
Name: Franco Brienza
Position: Attacking midfielder/Winger
Veteran Franco Brienza joined the Serie A newcomers on a one-year deal at the start of this season following three separate stints with Palermo and an 18-month spell with Atalanta.
The 35-year-old is adept in either the attacking midfielder position or as a winger and his ability to play anywhere in attack has seen him chip in with four goals this term.
Brienza loves dribbling past opposition defences and has a knack for teasing dangerous crosses. His performances this season have seen him roll back the years and he is also a threat from indirect set-pieces and often acts as the fulcrum between midfield and attack.
One for obscure trivia fanatics: the former Siena man made two appearances for the Azzurri when Marcello Lippi’s side embarked on a North-American Tour in 2005.
Name: Gregoire Defrel
During a somewhat difficult campaign on the field for the Cavallucci Marini, Frenchman Gregoire Defrel has been a shining light having so far bagged five goals and two assists in 16 starts.
Following a successful loan stint at Foggia during the 2011/12 season, the 23-year-old sealed a switch on a co-ownership deal from Parma three years ago. He has made over 90 appearances for Cesena and is a key figure that tirelessly leads the line.
The club’s top scorer is a nimble striker who likes to shoot from distance, dribble and play short passes. Defrel also performs his defensive duties by tracking back and due to his versatility, has been deployed in a variety of positions including as a defensive midfielder and a winger.