Juventus will look to jump to the top of the Serie A table, ahead of current leaders Napoli with a win over Chievo

After defeating Genoa 1-0 in their first match post the winter break, Juventus will travel to the Stadio Marc ‘Antonio Bentegodi to take on Chievo Verona in the Serie A, on Saturday night.

The Bianconeri currently occupy the second position in the Italian top division, just a point behind leaders Napoli. And with the Partenopei scheduled to play only on Sunday afternoon, Juve stand a great chance of moving to the top of the ladder, at least temporarily.

Juventus have won five Serie A games in a row now; unbeaten in eight and manager Massimiliano Allegri will be hoping to extend that run on Saturday.

Chievo, on the other hand, find themselves in the 13th position in Serie A, with 22 points from 21 games so far. They were handed a 5-1 thrashing by Lazio on their return from the winter break, which took their winless run in the Italian top-flight to seven games (5L, 2D).

The last time the two teams met, Juventus came out on top with a 3-0 win, courtesy of goals from Gonzalo Higuaín and Paulo Dybala along with a Perparim Hetemaj own goal.

Team News and Tactics

Chievo

Chievo manager Rolando Maran will have to make do without the services of Lucas Castro and Roberto Inglese for the game against the reigning champions. However, he will be boosted by the availability of Ricardo Meggiorini and Alessandro Gamberini.

Stefano Sorrentino is expected to man the goal for the home side on Saturday night. Fabrizio Cacciotore and Massimo Gobbi will be entrusted with keeping the Juventus wingers quiet in the wide areas, while Bostjan Cesar and Nenad Tomovic will occupy the centre-back position and try and keep the threat of Gonzalo Higuain in check.

Samuel Bastien, Ivan Radovanovic and Perparim Hetemaj should form the midfield trident for Chievo. The trio will have to work hard to try and break up play in the middle of the park and stop Juventus from settling into their rhythm.

Valter Birsa will be in-charge of providing the creativity and service operating in the No.10 role with Sergio Pellissier and Manuel Pucciarelli forming the two-pronged strikeforce in the absence of top-scorer Inglese.

Probable line-up (4-3-1-2): Sorrentino; Cacciatore, Cesar, Tomovic, Gobbi; Bastien, RadovanovicHetemajBirsa; Pucciarelli, Pellissier;

Juventus

Allegri will welcome back legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon for the game, but the manager has confirmed that the veteran will not be starting. Elsewhere, Alex Sandro is a doubt for the clash, while Giorgio Chiellini is going to be rested as well.

Claudio Marchisio has returned to training, but will not be involved whereas Paulo Dybala, Benedikt Howedes and Juan Cuadrado remain unavailable. Blaise Matuidi though, who picked up a knock in the win over Genoa, is fit and available.

The manager has confirmed that it will be Wojciech Szczesny between the sticks once again on Saturday, with the fit-again Mattia De Sciglio likely to come in at right-back. With Alex Sandro being a doubt, Kwadwo Asamoah is expected to be handed a starting role at left-back against Chievo. And the centre of the backline is likely to be manned by Andrea Barzagli and Mehdi Benatia.

With Chievo unlikely to pose much of a threat in attack, the full-backs will have the license to romp forward at every possible chance, but the centre-backs will need to stay alert and focussed throughout.

One change is expected in the midfield from the Old Lady, as Stefano Sturaro could be given a start in place of Sami Khedira, with Blaise Matuidi and Miralem Pjanic likely to occupy the other two slots.

In the attack, Federico Bernardeschi is set to come back into the starting XI, most likely at the expense of Douglas Costa, who scored the only goal against Genoa. Mario Mandzukic will continue to offer his relentless running and energy in the left channel, with Gonzalo Higuain set to lead the attack. The Argentine hasn’t been among the goals of late, but will be keen on finding the net on Saturday.

Probable line-up (4-3-3): Szczesny; De SciglioBarzagliBenatia, Asamoah; SturaroPjanicMatuidiBernardeschiHiguainMandzukic;

Key Stats

  • Juventus have won 10 of their last 11 matches against Chievo in all competitions.
  • The Old Lady have kept the most number of clean sheets in the Serie A this season (12) and haven’t conceded a goal in seven of their last eight league games.
  • Chievo are without a win in their last seven Serie A fixtures. Their previous win came way back in November last year.
  • Juventus’ Miralem Pjanic has created the most number of chances in the Serie A this season (39).
  • Chievo have conceded six goals from corner-kicks this season – most by any team in the Serie A.

Player to watch

Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus)

Going through a lean patch ( FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Going through a lean patch ( FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

The 30-year old has been going through a bit of a slump of late. Higuain has failed to score a goal in his last six appearances in the Serie A and has just one strike against his name in his last eight games across all competitions.

The fact that he is yet to hit double figures for goals in the Serie A is something that will be bothering the former Real Madrid man and he will be keen on getting back on scoring ways at the earliest and could pose a serious threat to the Chievo backline.

Prediction

Chievo 0-2 Juventus

Given the drastic difference between the forms of both the sides, it is quite easy to call this one. Juventus, despite having some injury concerns, have enough quality to dispatch this Chievo team that has been struggling to get results of late. As a result, we at the Hard Tackle predict a 2-0 win for the Bianconeri at the Bentegodi.

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