Juventus will chasing momentum to stay relevant in their chase for a top-four spot when they host Empoli on Friday night.

Juventus, who face Empoli next, are undoubtedly going through their toughest period in years, but positive results could bring hope in their chase to stay relevant. Massimiliano Allegri has come out of a testing period and held on to his role as the manager. But there is plenty of work ahead to cement his position.

Allegri took the first step with a narrow win over Torino. The victory only papered over cracks but could be the catalyst for Juventus to build momentum in the coming weeks. Dusan Vlahovic scored his sixth league goal midway through the second half to secure those important points.

After losing massive ground in the title race, Juventus might think that a top-four finish could salvage their season. A win on Friday night would help them build momentum in that context. Allegri will hope to steer his side to a win against Empoli, particularly after their recent failings elsewhere, including in Europe.

While Juventus can leapfrog Inter Milan momentarily in the standings, Empoli could climb up to 9th on the table. Paolo Zanetti’s side secured an all-important win over AC Monza as they entered the top half of the table with six points clear of the drop zone.

Nicolas Haas’s solitary strike early in the first half was enough to secure the points. However, Zanetti’s men sat deep and soaked up the pressure as Monza dominated the rest of the game. A similar game plan could be in play against Juventus, but their hosts are far superior to last weekend’s opponents.

Team News & Tactics

Juventus

Massimiliano Allegri will have to contend without Mattia De Sciglio, Marley Ake, Federico Chiesa, Angel Di Maria and Kaio Jorge for the Empoli clash. Meanwhile, Paul Pogba returned to training last week but will be short of match fitness to start for the club.

There’s another potential absentee in Gleison Bremer, who is suffering from a thigh problem. The Brazilian defender’s absence could allow Allegri to recall Leonardo Bonucci to lead the backline.

Danilo could slot in a back three on the right-hand side, while Alex Sandro could take up the left-handed position. Juan Cuadrado and Filip Kostic will play as wing-backs as Allegri continues to maintain his defensive style of play.

As there is not much respite from injuries, Weston McKennie will continue in central midfield, with Manuel Locatelli reprising the holding role and Adrien Rabiot taking the left-hand side. Allegri will opt to field a front two comprising Dusan Vlahovic and Moise Kean.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Szczesny; Danilo, Boucci, Sandro; Cuadrado, McKennie, Locatelli, Rabiot, Kostic; Vlahovic, Kean

Empoli

Paolo Zanetti has a few concerns with his squad. At least four first-team stars are expected to miss the Juventus trip. Ardian Ismajli, Lorenzo Tonelli, Alberto Grassi and Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro are on the sidelines.

Hence, Zanetti will change his starting lineup from the Monza game. Whether the Empoli boss continues with his 4-3-1-2 style remains the question, as he could include another defender to protect the goal against Juventus. Guglielmo Vicario will start in goal, with a back four lining up ahead of the keeper.

Petar Stojanovic will be preferred at right-back, while the pairing of Koni De Winter and Sebastiano Luperto at the heart of the Empoli defence. Fabiano Parisi could slot in at left-back and complete the backline for Empoli.

Last weekend’s match-winner Nicolas Haas keeps his place on the right side of the midfield, with Alberto Grassi in the holding role. Scottish ace Liam Henderson will continue on the left side of the midfield, while former Juventus man Marko Pjaca takes up the advanced role.

Empoli will go with a front two of Martin Satriano and Sam Lammers, who will lead the line against Juventus.

Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Vicario; Stojanovic, De Winter, Luperto, Parisi; Haas, Grassi, Henderson; Pjaca; Satriano, Lammers

Key Stats

  • Juventus have secured only two wins in their last five Serie A games.
  • Dusan Vlahovic is Juventus’s top scorer with six league goals.
  • Juventus have lost once in their last six league encounters with Empoli.
  • Empoli managed to win away to Juventus last season.
  • Empoli have only two victories in their last five Serie A games.

Player to Watch

Dusan Vlahovic

As Juventus failed to get out of their blocks and continued to have a disastrous start to the season, one player has flourished amid the chaos. Vlahovic scored his sixth goal of the Serie A season against Torino last weekend, giving his side a much-needed win.

The striker has been criticised recently after his poor pass allowed AC Milan’s Brahim Diaz to score a famous goal. However, the Serbian striker has the mentality and composure to get back to his best, and more than anyone, Juventus need that to happen.

Prediction

Juventus 1-0 Empoli

Empoli might have trumped against Monza last weekend, but their overall performance was anything but good. The opposition completely dominated Empoli, and they will count on their lucky stars to have got away with all three points. The scenario will be different against Juventus, as they could be in for a tough time.

Juventus are only beginning to pick up some momentum in their season. That win over Torino will provide a boost, but do not expect them to come out flying against Empoli. The Turin giants are expected to collect three points, although there are no signs they will score more than a single goal at home on Friday night.

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