Juventus will turn their attention back to the Serie A following their midweek TIM Cup win, as they take on Sassuolo on Sunday

Reigning Serie A Champions Juventus will look to reclaim the top spot in the league table, when they take on Sassuolo at home on Sunday. The last time the two sides met, Juventus ran out comfortable 3-1 winners, courtesy a hat-trick from Paulo Dybala.

The Bianconeri find themselves a point below Napoli, having accumulated 56 points in 22 games. However, with the league leaders scheduled to play later in the night, Massimiliano Allegri’s side stand a chance to go to the top with a win over Sassuolo and put pressure on their rivals.

Juve come into the game on the back of a 1-0 win over Atalanta in the cup game on Tuesday night and the manager will be hoping that his side can continue on their winning ways over the weekend.

Sassuolo, on the other hand, find themselves in the 14th position in the Serie A standings. Things have been looking up for the club since Guiseppe Iachini’s appointment in November last year and they have managed four wins and two draws in their last nine league games.

But the tie against the Old Lady will come as a huge mountain to climb for them, following their 3-0 loss at the hands of Atalanta last weekend.

Team News and Tactics

Juventus

Dybala continues to be ruled out for the Italian champions and is unlikely to be available for at least another couple of weeks, whereas fellow attacker Juan Cuadrado also remains sidelined. Douglas Costa is also set to miss out due to a problem he picked up during the midweek, but Federico Bernardeschi will be available, despite picking up a knock on Tuesday.

Claudio Marchisio is back in the scheme of things following a month’s layoff due to injury, but Benedikt Howedes continues to be absent for Juve.

Legendary keeper Gianluigi Buffon returned to action on Tuesday after a spell on the sidelines, and should once again man the goal on Sunday, ahead of Wojciech Szczesny. Stephan Lichtsteiner and Alex Sandro will take up the full-back slots, flanking the centre-half duo of Mehdi Benatia and Giorgio Chiellini.

In the midfield, the usual trio of Sami Khedira, Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi are likely to start again. The three players offer a good balance to the team due to their varying skillsets and will have a crucial role to play on Sunday.

Gonzalo Higuain is back among the goals and will once again shoulder the responsibilities in attack, with Mario Mandzukic and Federico Bernardeschi set to offer him support from the wider areas.

Probable line-up (4-3-3): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Benatia, Chiellini, Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi; Bernardeschi, Higuain, Mandzukic

Sassuolo

Iachini’s side will be without the services of defender Timo Letschert who is out due to a cruciate ligament injury, while fellow defender Edoardo Goldaniga also misses out due to suspension.

Sassuolo signed three new players in the January transfer window, bringing in striker Khouma Babacar and defender Mauricio Lemos on loan till the end of the season and signing right-back Pol Lirola, who was on loan from Juventus, on a permanent deal. All the three new faces are likely to be involved on Sunday’s game.

The manager is unlikely to change the shape of the team and will go in with his preferred 4-3-3 setup, starting Andrea Consigli between the sticks with Lirola and Federico Peluso starting in the full-back roles. With Goldaniga ruled out, Lemos could be set to make his debut for his loan club, partnering up with Francesco Acerbi in the heart of the defence.

It will be crucial for Sassuolo to try and stop Juventus from settling into the game very early and the midfield trio of Simone Missiroli, Francesco Magnanelli and Alfred Duncan will have to work very hard in the centre of the park, if their side are to stand a chance of coming out with a positive result.

Up top, Domenico Berardi will start on the right-side while Matteo Politano will feature on the left, with January arrival Khouma Babacar likely to slot in as the central striker. Berardi and Politano have been involved in 10 goals together in the Serie A for Sassuolo this term and will have an important part to play on Sunday.

Probable line-up (4-3-3): Consigli; Lirola, Lemos, Acerbi, Peluso; MissiroliMagnanelli, Duncan; Berardi, Babacar, Polito;

Key Stats

  • Sassuolo have never won at the Juventus Stadium, losing all of their four matches in Turin against the champions.
  • The Bianconeri have won 35 of their last 38 league fixtures at home in the Serie A.
  • Juventus have conceded just one goal in their last 14 games across all competitions and have managed to keep five consecutive clean sheets, heading into Sunday’s game.
  • Gonzalo Higuain has scored five goals and assisted one more in his last six games against Sassuolo.
  • Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri enjoys a 100% record against Guiseppe Iachini’s teams, having won all of his seven encounters against the Sassuolo head coach.

Player to watch

Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus)

Will he score again? (Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)

Will he score again? (Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)

Having gone six games without a goal in the Serie A, the 30-year old Gonzalo Higuain managed to end the drought with a strike against Chievo last week and followed it up with another goal in the midweek win over Atalanta in the cup tie.

The Argentine international now has 10 goals in the league, which isn’t exactly the sort of return that one would expect from him. However, having found his goal-scoring boots again, Higuain could now run riot and given his past record against Sassuolo, it could be long night for the visitors against the former Real Madrid man.

Prediction

Juventus 2-0 Sassuolo

The current Serie A title holders have been in very good form coming into Sunday’s game. Steady and solid defensively, their attack may be missing some everal key players, but Juventus have managed to get past the finish line without a great deal of trouble.

It is likely to be the same story against Sassuolo at home, and we at the Hard Tackle expect a comfortable 2-0 win for the Old Lady.

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