Juventus will look to retain their place at the top of the Serie A table when they play hosts to Parma at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday.
With the first half of the Serie A season coming to an end, this could be an important week for Juventus as they look to maintain their place at the top of the table, following a somewhat disappointing start. The Italian champions are leading second-placed Inter Milan by two points heading into this weekend’s round of fixture when they will be up against Parma.
Inter are set to face struggling Lecce on the same day, meaning the Nerazzurri could potentially regain their place at the top should Juve fail to secure a win on Sunday. Hence, it will be interesting to see how the Bianconeri perform under pressure, though they are coming on the back of a three-game winning streak in all competitions that saw them score ten goals.
Parma, on the other hand, have performed rather well this season, standing eighth in the league table, with 28 points on the board. They could potentially overtake Cagliari and Torino heading into this game, though they will have to secure all three points against Juventus.
However, it’s unlikely Parma will be aiming for a win this weekend, especially having won just one of their last four competitive matches. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their crucial match-up in Serie A tomorrow.
Tactics & Team News
Maurizio Sarri did ring in a few changes to his side during their 4-0 win over Udinese in midweek. He is expected to revert those changes, with Gianluigi Buffon, in particular, likely to make way for Wojciech Szczesny in goal. Leonardo Bonucci could also come in, at the expense of Daniele Rugani, who was given a rare start in the last game.
However, Matthijs de Ligt could retain his place in defence, especially with Merih Demiral out injured. Same cannot be said for Danilo, with Juan Cuadrado pushing for a place in the right-back slot. Alex Sandro, meanwhile, is expected to retain his place on the opposite flank.
In midfield, we expect Sarri to make radical changes. Federico Bernardeschi and Rodrigo Bentancur could both make way for first-team regulars in Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi. As for Adrien Rabiot, he could retain his place in the starting lineup, ahead of Emre Can, who has recently been linked with a move to Everton.
And finally, in the attack, Aaron Ramsey is guaranteed to return to the setup. The Welshman could operate in the number ten role, providing creative support to the offensive duo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain, both of whom will be tasked with the responsibility of leading the Juventus attack this weekend.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Szczesny; Cuadrado, Bonucci, de Ligt, Sandro; Rabiot, Pjanic, Matuidi; Ramsey; Higuain, Ronaldo
Parma were knocked out of Coppa Italia by AS Roma in their last game after slumping to a 2-0 defeat. But, coach Roberto D’Aversa is unlikely to shift away from his preferred 4-3-3 setup. It’s also fair to point out that the 44-year-old fielded a “B” team in midweek.
Hence, we could expect D’Aversa to make a host of changes to the side that lost to Roma. Especially in the attack, key winger Dejan Kulusevski could return to the side, at the expense of Luca Siligardi. Same cannot be said for Ivan Kurtic, who is likely to retain his role on the opposite flank.
The Parma attack, meanwhile, is expected to be led by Roberto Inglese despite the fact that the 28-year-old has struggled to find the back of the on a consistent basis this season. Gervinho, however, is an option for the away side, though it remains to be seen whether or not the ex-Arsenal man features against Juventus this weekend.
We also expect changes in midfield, with Alberto Grassi and Hernani pushing for a start, at the expense of Matteo Scozzarella and Antonino Barilla. Juraj Kucka, however, could continue to start and his aggressive nature could be key in dealing with the technically gifted Juventus midfielders.
D’Aversa could reshuffle almost his entire backline, with the defensive trifecta of Matteo Darmian, Simeone Iacoponi and Bruno Alves likely to return to the side. Alves’ return could allow Roberto Gagliolo to shift to his preferred left-back slot.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Sepe; Darmian, Iacoponi, Alves, Gagliolo; Kucka, Hernani, Grassi; Kulusevski, Inglese, Kurtic
- Since the 2011/12 season, Parma have conceded 23 league goals against Juventus, only against AC Milan have they conceded more in this period (25) – in addition, the Gialloblu suffered their worst-ever Serie A defeat against the Bianconeri.
- Juventus have scored in each of their 24 home meetings against Parma in Serie A – the Bianconeri are the only team against which Parma have never kept a single clean sheet on the road, among the sides faced at least in ten away league games.
- Juventus have won the Scudetto in each of their last nine Serie A campaign where they won at least 15 of the opening 19 games – including the 2005/06 season.
- Juventus are unbeaten in their last 30 home games in Serie A – excluding this run, the best current streak of consecutive home league games without a defeat is Lazio’s 10.
- Juventus are the Winter Champions, however, in two of their last four Serie A seasons, the team at the top of the table after the first half of the campaign did not win the Scudetto – this happened to Sarri’s Napoli both times.
Player to Watch
It is needless to point out that there would be a lot of hype surrounding the performance of Kulusevski and from sets of Juventus fans as well. Indeed, the Swedish winger has recently signed a permanent contract with Juventus, though he has returned to Parma on a loan deal.
That means Kulusevski will be playing his parent club this weekend and therefore, he will be keen on making a bright impression on Sarri, who will be closely keeping track of his progress at Parma.
Kulusevski’s pace on the break, coupled with his ability to nestle through tight spaces could cause real problems for a Juventus defence, who have looked susceptible at times this season.
Juventus 2-0 Parma
Parma are unlikely to have any chance of sealing even a point in this fixture, given their poor form heading into this game. Not to mention, the Bianconeri have the home advantage and are on an excellent scoring form, notably netting ten goals in their last three matches. Hence, we expect the hosts to seal a comfortable 2-0 victory in this one.