Aston Villa will face European giants Juventus in the Peace Cup 2009 Final on Sunday August 2nd in Seville. The game will be held in the 57,619 seat Olympic Stadium which also hosted the opening game between Sevilla and Juventus, attracting 15,000 spectators. If the locals couldn’t be tempted to see their home team play Juventus then I’m not holding my breath about them coming out to see an English team take on the Italians. Real Madrid vs Juventus managed to draw a crowd yesterday, so for that reason I would have preferred Madrid to have won.
Villa will obviously be without Emile Heskey who will be serving a suspension following his red card against Porto. There seems to be some confusion about whether Lichaj & Albrighton will also be suspended. Lichaj picked up bookings against Atlante & Porto, but I have to confess that I only have Albrighton down for the one yellow card.
Maybe I missed one, but it really doesn’t matter as the rules state that a player will be suspended for one game following two bookings during the GROUP stage. It’s not explicitly stated, but it is implied, that bookings are reset after the group stage. It’s a bit of a nonsense anyway since the group stage only consists of two games each.
5.1 If a player receives a caution (yellow card) in two different matches in the group round, he will be suspended for the match following the match in which he receives the second caution.
Based on this I, expect Lichaj and Albrighton to be eligible to play. It’s looking like Curtis Davies will also be fit to play, but Ciaran Clark did such a good job alongside Cuellar I wouldn’t be concerned if MON started him.
With Heksey out, my guess is that MON is more likely to revert to a 4-5-1 and keep Harewood or Weimann up his sleeve for when Carew inevitably gets tired and needs to come off around the hour mark. Still guessing, but I would be surprised if it wasn’t Osbourne given the nod and instructed to play a defensive role alongside Reo-Coker. Something like this:-
|Guzan / Friedel|
By playing two defensive midfielders it might well allow one of them to help out Albrighton & Lichaj as Juventus are bound to look to exploit our “rookie right” as Atlante & Porto both did.
And yes, I’m hedging on who will be in goal. I’d be quite happy with Guzan as I think he’s been awesome, but if Friedel is fit and MON is intending him to be #1 this season then surely he can’t be excluded from games like this?
Albrighton’s fearless attacking play during this tournament has been a revelation and if he plays well against Juve his star could well be set and we’ll hear no more talk of David Bentley. On the left side, Ash seems to be just about finding his stride now. With Carew playing his usual target role and Sidwell bombing on in support, it gives us a pretty decent attacking diamond.
Fitness could well be the deciding factor for Villa. Once the game is more than hour old and MON needs to start replacing tired legs, the bench offers very little experience. If the Villans aren’t sitting on a strong lead, as they were against Porto, it’s difficult to see them beating the Italians.
But one of the reasons that we all love football is that anything can happen on the day. There’s absolutely no reason why any of the youngsters couldn’t get a run out and score a memorable winning goal. Unlikely, but not impossible.
I won’t lie, I’d love to see the boys lift a trophy tomorrow. The Peace Cup might not mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but it’s been so long since we’ve seen the first team hold some silverware aloft it would be a real boost for the start of the season.
We’re already guaranteed €1mllion for making the final, but the tournament winners will collect €2million and I’m sure the club could find a good use for the money!! That would go a long way towards paying the wages for one of the big signings we can expect shortly!!
Kick off is at 9:30pm 9:00pm GMT and I’m thinking of giving a live blog commentary a go as I wouldn’t want to get a reputation as a spammer on Twitter!!