30.01.2016 11:00 - in: Serie A S

      Bentegodi business

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      With Sunday’s match representing Chievo’s 11th match at the Stadio Bentegodi this season, Juventus.com looks at their previous ten on home soil
      Predictions precarious

      If Chievo are enjoying their joint third-best season in Serie A (27 points), it may be surprising to hear that their home form does not count among one of the major motives.

      Their 13 points gained from ten matches at the Stadio Bentegodi puts them in the division’s bottom five – in stark contrast to their ninth place in the league when it comes to results on the road.

      The Gialloblu have recorded three wins, as many defeats and four draws in front of their own supporters, who might have been hoping for a better return in Verona after starting off with a 4-0 hammering of Lazio back on 30 August, quickly followed up with a 1-0 win over Torino on 23 September.

      Rolando Maran’s men would then have to wait almost three whole months for a Bentegodi victory, beating Atalanta 1-0 on 13 December.

      While two of their defeats admittedly came at the hands of title-chasing Inter and Napoli (on both occasions tight matches decided by a single goal), their third reverse, against Udinese on 29 November, saw the club dip to 13th place, 12 matchdays after having led the way in the league.

      Maran and company have since steadied the ship with January draws to Roma and Empoli proving far more credible than those registered back in the autumn against inter-city rivals Hellas Verona and Sampdoria, who have endured the second and fourth-worst away records this term respectively, in contrast to the Giallorossi (eighth-best) and Azzurri (fourth-best).

      Possession a plus

      Prior to their 1-0 win over Atalanta in December, Chievo had only ever edged the possession stakes once this term at the Bentegodi (52.8 per cent in the derby against bottom side Verona).

      Therefore, the fact that Maran’s men have seen more of the ball than their visitors in two of the last three home fixtures (against the aforementioned Nerazzurri and Roma) is a clear anomaly to the season’s trend as a whole. Indeed, matters took their natural course in their latest outing against Empoli, who bossed 63.2 per cent of possession.

      What has helped the Gialloblu, however, is their ability to convert a relatively high proportion of their efforts on target. Against Lazio, for example, they scored four out of five shots destined to land between the goalposts, three in six against Roma, one in three against Atalanta and two in six, despite defeat, against Udinese.

      Dogged defence

      Having conceded 11 goals at the Bentegodi this term, Chievo boast the joint eighth-best home defensive record in Italy’s top flight. These statistics are also distorted somewhat by the matches against Udinese (2-3) and Roma (3-3), when otherwise they have kept three clean sheets and let in just the single strike in their other five fixtures in front of their own fans.

      One man key to these efforts, however, will be absent on Sunday, as towering Slovenian centre-back Bostjan Cesar sits out through suspension after picking up two yellow cards in last weekend’s loss to Lazio.

      Fixed formation, strikes from same source

      With the exception of their opening day victory at Empoli, Maran has set his men up in a 4-3-1-2 for every encounter since.

      Leading the line in all 21 of Chievo’s fixtures this term has been Alberto Paloschi, who is also his side’s top scorer (eight). The 26-year-old has netted five times at home this term and twice in as many fixtures at the Bentegodi since the turn of the year.

      With Paloschi departed for Premier League Swansea however, the Gialloblu goalscoring burden will now need to be taken on by strike partner Roberto Inglese, particularly in the absence of Riccardo Meggiorini through injury since 6 January. The 24-year-old Inglese has three goals to his name, all of which incidentally came in the month of November.

      In other positions, Maran has preferred to stick with the same starting XI, with the only major rotations taking place in the wide midfield roles, where five players have been given starting berths either side of the ever-present Ivan Radovanovic, as can be seen below:

      One of those men, Simone Pepe, will be hoping to return to the line-up to face his former club. The 32-year-old has been enjoying a purple patch since the start of 2016, scoring against Roma and Bologna, whilst setting up Paloschi for the opener against Empoli two weeks ago.

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