Juventus will be aiming to make it three victories on the bounce in Serie A when they take on relegation-battlers Genoa away from home this week.
Friday’s Serie A encounter at Stadio Luigi Ferraris pits together Genoa and Juventus, a showdown between two sides who find themselves battling it out at opposite ends of the Serie A table and with entirely different ambitions in this final stretch of games.
After Roma dropped points against Bologna last Sunday, Juventus sealed a top-four Serie A finish, which means this clash with Genoa will have greater implications at the bottom of the table, where Genoa are scrambling to avoid relegation after losing four of their last five matches.
The Rossoblu aim to make amends for a heartbreaking loss to Sampdoria in the Derby Della Lanterna, which has left them three points adrift of 17th-placed Salernitana with the same number of games. Two victories in their final three games could just be enough to keep them in the division. However, they will have a mountain to climb against Massimiliano Allegri’s troops.
Juventus have gone undefeated in five matches since losing to Inter last month, winning four. And yet, despite their unappealing brand of football, they can end their season on a positive note by snatching the third spot from Napoli and bringing home some silverware in the form of the Coppa Italia, as they prepare to welcome Inter Milan in the final on May 11.
The Old Lady have failed to keep a clean sheet in five of their last six matches. And, they will be taking on a Genoa outfit that have scored the least number of goals (25) in the division and have the third-worst home record, having collected just 14 points from 17 matches.
Team News & Tactics
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Genoa are expected to be without the services of Zinho Vanheusden, Nicolo Rovella, Lennart Czyborra, Nikola Maksimovic, and Roberto Piccoli, while defender Andrea Cambiaso is doubtful after picking up a knock. Stefano Sturaro should be able to recover from the knock that he picked up against Sampdoria.
Alexander Blessin will be keen for his team to pull off a miracle here, knowing that they have a difficult end to the 2021/22 season with back-to-back crucial matches against Napoli and Bologna. The German manager instilled some solidity when he took over, as seen by a run of seven straight draws, but Genoa have failed to capitalise on that foundation, failing to score in six of their previous nine league games.
Blessin will set up his team in a compact 4-2-3-1 formation, as they look to keep the distances short between their lines of defence and attack to deny spaces to the opposition and initiate an active press in midfield. In goal, Salvatore Sirigu could be in for a busy outing and will need all the protection he can get from the back-four comprising Morten Wetche Frendrup, Mattia Bani, Leo Skiri Ostigard and Johan Vasquez.
The midfield will be anchored by the double-pivot of Stefano Sturaro and Milan Badelj, who will be tasked with stopping Juve attacks in their tracks and looking to screen their backline. Blessin has experimented with various combinations up top, but nothing has yet clicked.
The attacking trio of Caleb Ekuban, Pablo Galdames, and Nadiem Amiri will be responsible for providing the service upfront for top-scorer Mattia Destro, who will be relied on to produce the goods in the final third.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Sirigu; Frendrup, Bani, Ostigard, Vasquez; Sturaro, Badelj; Ekuban, Galdames, Amiri; Destro
Juventus have welcomed back Juan Cuadrado and Mattia De Sciglio to the squad after the duo returned to full training during the week following a brief spell on the sidelines.
Manuel Locatelli also returned to training on Tuesday but is not risked with the Coppa Italia final fast approaching. USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie is also in line to make a comeback before next Wednesday’s final. However, Massimiliano Allegri will be without Luca Pellegrini (sprained ankle) and Federico Chiesa.
Allegri is likely to opt for an unusual 3-5-2 system that he deployed against Venezia, and while the Italian head coach would ideally want to stick with the majority of the side that took to the field last time out, he will need to ring in a few changes to keep the squad’s fitness levels intact ahead of the all-important Coppa Italia final next midweek.
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Giorgio Chiellini could return at the back to form a three-man central defensive unit alongside Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci in front of Polish shot-stopper Wojciech Szczesny, who is a definite starter in goal for the visitors.
The width in attack will come from the wing-back duo of Federico Bernardeschi and Alex Sandro, who will be given the licence to maraud forward to cause the opposition problems and provide the quality in attack to help break down Genoa’s mid-block.
Fabio Miretti, who impressed in his maiden senior start against Venezia, deserves to retain his spot in midfield with Adrien Rabiot and Denis Zakaria on either side of the youngster. Although, Arthur Melo has returned to full fitness and is an option for Allegri.
Juventus have not fared well going forward in recent weeks despite having invested heavily in Alvaro Morata and Dusan Vlahovic. The strike-duo could not even muster a shot on target between themselves against a struggling Venezia backline last weekend. So, Paulo Dybala could replace Morata as they seek better productivity in the final third.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Szczesny; Chiellini, Bonucci, De Ligt; Bernardeschi, Zakaria, Miretti, Rabiot, Sandro; Vlahovic, Dybala
- Genoa have kept a clean sheet in five of their last seven Serie A home games and have only lost once during that stretch (4D, 2W).
- The Bianconeri are seeking to extend their undefeated away record to 11 games. They have not lost away from home since last October when they were defeated by Hellas Verona.
- Juventus are unbeaten in their previous six meetings against teams starting the matchday in the relegation zone, recording five wins.
- Juventus are unbeaten in 22 of their last 25 matches against Genoa in Serie A, while they have won all of their last five.
- Genoa have lost four of their last five games in Serie A, with their only win in that time coming against fellow relegation candidates Cagliari.
Player to Watch
Even though some would argue that his form has regressed recently thanks to Juventus’ way of playing, since the team does not create chances to put him in a position to score goals, Dusan Vlahovic still earned the Juventus MVP award for the month of April. Since moving to Turin, the Serbian striker has managed six goals in 12 league outings, a far cry from his prior prolific form for Fiorentina.
The Serbian can open up opposition defenders and wreak havoc with his incisive movement, and he thrives off vertical passes into him due to his potent finishing skills. But he is clearly suffering from Allegri’s side’s dour, horizontal football. The 22-year-old will certainly be hoping to snap his mini-rut in front of goal against Genoa.
Genoa 1-1 Juventus
Juventus will be the overwhelming favourite heading into this tie against a poor Genoa side, who still stand a chance of avoiding relegation. The visitors face a side fighting for their lives for the second successive matchday. They were run close by Venezia last time out, but an unlikely Leonardo Bonucci brace dragged the Bianconeri out of the hole and across the finish line.
The hosts are more than capable of putting up a strong fight, especially given that Massimiliano Allegri’s men have got very little to play for. The Old Lady have been in good form in recent weeks, though, and have made a habit of avoiding defeats. The Hard Tackle predicts a close encounter that will end in a 1-1 draw.