Juventus will be keen to get their top-four bid back on track when they travel to Sassuolo on Sunday night.
Juventus will hope to get back to winning ways against Sassuolo as they target a top-four finish in Serie A this season. Massimiliano Allegri’s men suffered a loss to second-placed Lazio last weekend but responded well with a 1-0 win over Sporting CP in their UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg. They now travel to Emilia-Romagna to face a side they have an excellent record against.
As things stand, AC Milan’s draw earlier today to Bologna is yet another boost to Juventus’s hopes of a Champions League spot-worthy finish. Napoli and Lazio are admittedly beyond their reach, meaning either of the Milan clubs or AS Roma might have to play the role of the sacrificial lamb.
With just nine games remaining, the Bianconeri cannot afford to drop any more points and will need to rediscover their winning touch in the league. Sassuolo have a habit of upsetting Italy’s top sides on their day but have fallen short on several occasions against Juventus.
The Neroverdi are comfortably in mid-table and have failed to show much consistency this season. Unlike the visitors, the home side has little to play for apart from perhaps breaking into the top half of the Serie A standings.
The reverse fixture ended 3-0 in the Bianconeri’s favour and they will once again go into the game as favourites. Unless they shoot themselves in the foot, Allegri and co will be expected to come away with a comfortable win. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.
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US Sassuolo Calcio
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The home side have little to play for but can spring a surprise on their day. Star attacker Domenico Berardi is a doubt for the game as he continues to struggle with an adductor problem. Despite his poor record against Juventus, the Italian’s absence will be a blow for Alessio Dionisi’s side.
A flexible 4-3-3 formation appears to be the go-to tactic for the home side with Andrea Consigli starting in goal. He is expected to be protected by a back four of Jeremy Toljan, Martin Erlic, Gian Marco Ferrari and Rogerio.
Davide Frattesi and Abdou Harroui are expected to flank Maxime Lopez in central midfield as they attempt to reduce former Sassuolo man Manuel Locatelli’s ability to pull the strings. Should the trio gain the upper hand, it should make life easier for the home side’s backline.
Juventus have been linked with Frattesi in recent times, and the game will give the Bianconeri a shot at seeing the midfielder in action. Meanwhile, Nedim Bajrami and Armand Laurienté will start out wide with Andrea Pinamonti leading the attack.
Sassuolo’s best shot of securing a point or more in the game depends much on whether they score the opening goal. Juventus don’t really respond well to being challenged and the home side should notice just that.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Consigli; Toljan, Erlic, Ferrari, Rogerio; Frattesi, Lopez, Harruoi; Bajrami, Pinamonti, Lauriente
Juventus will be without the suspended Alex Sandro and the injured Moise Kean. Paul Pogba is back available but is unlikely to be risked off the bat. Federico Chiesa also impressed midweek and is expected to reprise his role off the bench on the night.
Another player who is unlikely to be risked is Wojciech Szczesny. The Polish shot-stopper was taken off mid-week with a suspected heart problem but is now fine. Mattia Perin is an able deputy and Juventus have every reason to let the Italian take the starting spot for the night.
Allegri is likely to go with his 3-5-2- formation on the night. Perin in goal is likely to be protected by the back three of Danilo, Leandro Bonucci and Federico Gatti. The trio are likely to be flanked by Juan Cuadrado and Filip Kostic, both of whom will function as wing-backs.
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Nicolo Fagioli is expected to return to the starting XI alongside Manuel Locatelli and Adrien Rabiot in central midfield. Angel Di Maria has been a sensational hit at the Allianz Stadium and should once again don the number 10’s role on the night.
Dusan Vlahovic has struggled for goals of late but could come in for Arkadiuz Milik for the game. It should give the Serbian a chance to add to the four goals he has scored against Sassuolo so far. The sooner he rediscovers his touch, the better Juventus’s chances of making the top four.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Perin; Danilo, Bonucci, Gatti; Cuadrado, Fagioli, Locatelli, Rabiot, Kostic; Di Maria, Vlahovic
- Sassuolo have won just once at home against Juventus in Serie A, all the way back in 2015. Sassuolo have lost 14 of their 19 Serie A games against Juventus, the most against any side in the Italian top flight.
- Sassuolo have also conceded 47 goals against Juventus, the most against any side in the Italian top flight.
- Juventus are unbeaten against Sassuolo whenever their Serie A game was played on matchday 30 or onwards.
- Juventus have the third-best defence in the league, having conceded just 24 times in 29 games.
- Sassuolo have conceded 47 goals in 29 Serie A games this season, the worst defensive record of any side in the top 14 of the Italian first division.
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The Serbian marksman has looked off-colour in recent months but should return to the playing XI for the night. Capable of finding the net on a regular basis, he has formed an excellent partnership with Angel Di Maria.
Vlahovic has four goals and an assist in his eight matches against Sassuolo, two of them came in the reverse fixture this season and he will be keen to add to that tally. The Juventus star has found the back of the net just twice in the last ten Serie A games and there is no better time than now for him to break the duck.
US Sassuolo Calcio 1-2 Juventus
Sassuolo have made it a habit to upset bigger teams in recent years but sans Berardi they will lack serious bite. Juventus might not be at their best but have done well under MassilianoAllegri since the year started and will be keen to get all three points on the board. The match is unlikely to be pretty or aesthetically pleasing but the visitors will be expected to come away with all three points.
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