Italian job for Biarritz
December 9, 2010
Goal-kicking scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili remains Biarritz's most potent attacking weapon © Getty Images
Biarritz will be looking to maintain their 100 percent start to Heineken Cup Pool 4 when they travel to Viadana on Saturday to take on Italian minnows Aironi.
The Basques kicked off their campaign with a hard-fought win over Bath at the Rec and followed it up with a hugely impressive victory over a much-vaunted Ulster side on home soil. As a result, they now know that they can all but seal their place in the knockout stages with successive bonus-point wins over Aironi.
The Italians made life somewhat difficult for Ulster in round one but they have yet to win a game in any competition so far this season and their first victory is highly unlikely to come against a Biarritz side which is riding high in fourth place in the Top 14.
Aironi - Player to Watch: No.8 Nick Williams has all the pace and power you could need and given his side's dismal start to the season an injection of quality from the former Munster man is required against a heavyweight Biarritz pack.
Aironi - Team News: Quintin Geldenhuys returns from a try-scoring appearance for the Barbarians to captain the side from the second-row. Matias Aguero, Fabio Staibano and Fabio Ongaro start in a powerful front-row. James Marshall and Tito Tebaldi are the half-backs.
Biarritz - Player to Watch: In Europe, Biarritz are all about the slow and steady Dimitri Yachvili. He will kick his goals, play territory and likely make very few mistakes. Expect him to guide his side to victory.
Biarritz - Team News: Damien Traille retains the inside centre berth, while Iain Balshaw moves from fullback to left wing. His switch means Eagles international Taku Ngwenya will line up on the right wing, with Dane Haylett-Petty coming in at No.15. Julien Peyrelongue and Yachvili are once again partnered at fly-half and scrum-half respectively. The introduction of hooker Romain Terrain is the only change up front, with Imanol Harinordoquy set to lead the side from No.8.
Key Battle: Tebaldi and Marshall will have to use their possession wisely as Yachvili will be more than happy to put his massive pack of forwards into position before picking gaps with a pacy backline.
Trivia: In their former guise as Viadana, Aironi lost to Biarritz twice in 2007-08, although they did run the French giants close on both occasions.
Stats: Biarritz have face Italian opposition on 10 occasions in the Heineken Cup with a 100% record.
"I wanted to try and develop my rugby, and I didn't think I'd be able to do that as well playing club rugby, so I wanted to be tested." - Aironi fly-half James Marhsall explains his move north from New Zealand.
Prediction: Aironi haven't won so far this season and that stat will not change this weekend. Comfortable away win.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.