Juventus will look to pile on the pressure on Serie A leaders Napoli by claiming all three points against Genoa on Monday

Reigning Serie A champions Juventus will hope to keep up the pace with leaders Napoli with a win, when they take on Genoa in Turin, on Monday night.

The Bianconeri find themselves in the second place in the Serie A table, with 50 points from 20 games – just one-point shy of the leaders. And with Napoli set to play Atalanta on Sunday night, Juve will be hoping to stay within touching distance should the Partenopei emerge triumphant.

However, if Atalanta manage to cause an upset, it would present Juventus with a great opportunity to go on top of the table, as they look for their seventh consecutive Serie A title.

Juventus’ last game before the winter break ended in a 1-0 win over Cagliari at the Stadio Sant’Elia.

Genoa, on the other hand, find themselves in the 14th place in the standings, six points clear of the relegation zone. Since the appointment of Davide Ballardini as the manager in November last year, the club has seen an upturn of fortune and have just lost only one of their last eight league encounters (W4, D3). In their previous game before the break, Genoa defeated Sassuolo 1-0 at home.

The last time Juventus clashed against Genoa, they came out victorious 4-2, after having gone two goals down very early in the game, thanks to a Paulo Dybala hat-trick and a goal from fellow South American Juan Cuadrado.

Team News and Tactics

Juventus

Manager Massimiliano Allegri will be without a number of star players for the game. Legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is sidelined with a calf problem, while defenders Mattia De Sciglio (thigh) and Benedikt Howedes (thigh) are also unavailable.

Midfielder Claudio Marchisio also misses out with a groin problem, while the goal-scorers from Juve’s win over Genoa, Cuadrado (hip) and Dybala (hamstring) are also expected to be absent.

The current holders of the Serie A title should continue to set out in a 4-3-3 setup against Genoa. Former Arsenal goalie Wojciech Szczesny set to continue between the sticks in place of Buffon, while veteran defender Andrea Barzagli is likely to occupy the right-back slot.

Mehdi Benatia and Giorgio Chiellini will slot in the heart of the defence and look to thwart the visitors’ attacking threats, with Alex Sandro at left-back providing an attacking outlet.

The midfield trio is likely to comprise of the experienced Sami Khedira and Blaise Matuidi who will be tasked with adding the steel and the mettle, along with Miralem Pjanic who will have to bear the majority of the creative burden.

With Dybala out injured, Allegri could look to start with Brazilian Douglas Costa on the left-flank following his enterprising substitute appearance against Cagliari. The former Bayern Munich man has the pace and the trickery to trouble any opposition and could prove to be a handful for Genoa to contain. On the right-side, summer signing Federico Bernardeschi is expected to continue as a reward for his goal in the win over Cagliari.

And spearheading the attack for Juve will be Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain. The former Real Madrid man is yet to reach double figures in terms of goals in the Serie A this season and will be hoping he gets a goal or two under his belt on Monday.

Probable Line-up (4-3-3): Szczesny; Barzagli, Benatia, Chiellini, Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi; Bernardeschi, Higuain, Costa;

Genoa

Defender Ervin Zukanovic is the only absentee for the visitors, as he misses out due to suspension. Moroccan attacker Adel Taraabt is expected to be completely fit and available for selection for the clash against the Old Lady.

Mattia Perin should keep his place in the goal for Ballardini’s side, while the back three is likely to comprise of Armando Izzo, Nicolas Spolli and Luca Rosettini, who are likely to have their hands full against the dangerous looking Juventus attack.

Aleandro Rosi and Diego Laxalt are likely to occupy the wing-back slots on the right and left respectively. The two will be given a stern test by the threat of Costa and Bernardeschi, which could reduce their effect going forward.

In the centre of the park, Luca Rigoni and Andrea Bertolacci will take their place on either side of Miguel Veloso, who will be tasked with containing the influence of Pjanic from the midfield areas.

Adel Taraabt should return to the starting XI, in behind the main striker, Goran Pandev. The Moroccan has the skillset and the pace to pose a few issues to the Juve backline and will provide a nice balance to the attack operating with the veteran Pandev.

Probable Line-up (3-5-1-1): Perin; Izzo, Spolli, Rosettini; Rosi, Rigoni, Veloso, Bertolacci, Laxalt; Taraabt; Pandev;

Key Stats

  • In 101 Serie A matches Juve have beaten Genoa 61 times, drawn 20 and lost 20.
  • The Bianconeri have won 35 of their last 38 fixtures at home in the Italian first division.
  • Genoa haven’t conceded in their last four consecutive league games, their best record since 1964.
  • Juve have kept a clean sheet in six of their last seven league encounters, conceding just one in the process. Their tally of 11 shut-outs is the best in the Serie A this term.
  • Genoa have commited the most fouls this season with 331 to their name.

Player to watch

Douglas Costa (Juventus)

Looking to nail down a place in the side (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

Looking to nail down a place in the side (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

The Brazilian hasn’t been at his effervescent best this season and has been marginalized to an extent, having made only 8 starts in the Serie A so far. In his 14 league appearances this term, Costa has managed a solitary goal and 4 assists.

However, with Dybala on the sidelines until the next month, he should get more opportunities to make a case for himself. Costa, this season, has attempted 6.6 dribbles for every 90 mins he has been on the pitch – the most in the Serie A and has enjoyed a success-rate of 77%. He certainly has the abilities to be a thorn in the Genoa’s side on Monday.

Prediction

Juventus 2-0 Genoa

Juventus have been fairly solid coming into this game and have conceded just once in their last seven league fixtures. Given that their defence has found its footing, it is unlikely that they will concede. Plus, in the likes of Higuain, Costa, Bernardeschi and Pjanic, they have enough firepower to get past this Genoa side. So, here at the Hard Tackle, we predict an easy 2-0 win for the reigning Serie A champions.

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