Serie A league leaders Juventus will look to extend their lead at the top of the table as they host Cagliari at Turin on Saturday.
Juventus have enjoyed yet another marvellous start to the season, being the only unbeaten team in Italy so far this season. However, Juventus will be facing a stern test on Saturday as they host Cagliari.
The Bianconeri are currently leading the table by six points and will be presented with an opportunity to extend their lead at the top should Inter and Napoli fail to win this weekend. Massimiliano Allegri’s side have dropped points only one this season with their only mishap coming against Genoa last month.
In addition, they have also scored the most number of goals in the league this term with 21. But, Allegri will be hoping that his side could remain more vigilant in defence, notably conceding a disappointing opener against Empoli last weekend while keeping just one clean sheet in their last three matches in all competitions.
Cagliari, on the other hand, are one of the trickiest and most unpredictable teams in the division and it’s no wonder they share a mixed record of three wins and three losses so far this campaign. But, Rossoblu are coming on the back of a 2-0 win over Chievo Verona last weekend and are also on a three-game unbeaten run in the league.
They will be keen to take full advantage of the fact that Juventus have looked very tentative in recent matches as they look to cause a huge upset. And here at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of their fascinating encounter this weekend.
Team news & tactics
With Juventus due to play Manchester United next midweek, we could expect Massimiliano Allegri to rotate his squad, as per usual. Wojciech Szczesny will retain his place in between the sticks but Allegri will shuffle his back-four with Joao Cancelo coming in for Mattia De Sciglio while Mehdi Benatia will replace Daniele Rugani at the heart of the Juventus defence.
After struggling in a 4-4-2 formation against Empoli, Juventus could switch to a 4-3-3 this weekend with Blaise Matuidi being deployed in midfield alongside Rodrigo Bentancur and Miralem Pjanic. Sami Khedira will also be available, having recently returned from an injury layoff.
Pjanic’s ability to create chances could be vital as Juventus look to breach Cagliari, who boast the meanest defence in the bottom half of the table. The Bosnian international leads the league in terms of key passes and the opposition will surely be aware of his qualities in the centre of the pitch.
Cristiano Ronaldo will continue to lead the attack for Juventus, although we can expect Paulo Dybala to start on the bench with Allegri having one eye on the next game against Manchester United. And with Federico Bernardeschi ruled out with an injury, Ronaldo will b partnered by the wide-duo of Mario Mandzukic and Douglas Costa.
Probable lineup(4-3-3): Szczesny; De Sciglio, Bonucci, Benatia, Sandro; Matuidi, Pjanic, Bentancur; Mandzukic, Ronaldo, Costa.
Unlike Juventus, Cagliari boss Rolando Maran will likely stick to his trusted 4-3-2-1 with Alessio Cragno starting in goal. However, key defender Ragnar Klavan is apparently injured, forcing Maran to deploy Fabio Pisacane in central defence alongside Luca Ceppitelli.
The experienced Darijo Srna will operate as the right-back with former Juventus defender Simone Padoin occupying the opposite flank. Srna’s experience could be key but his lack of pace could put him at a serious disadvantage against the dynamic Douglas Costa.
Cagliari’s midfield will be led by Nicolo Barella, who has made the most number of interceptions in the team this season. He will partner Filip Bradaric and Artur Ionita at the base of Cagliari’s 4-3-2-1.
Lucas Castro and Joao Pedro will be deployed further forward, looking to provide service to central striker Leonardo Pavoletti. The 29-year-old is club’s highest scorer this season, having scored five of Cagliari’s nine goals in the league this term.
Pedro could also play a key role, with his creativity and smart movements in the final third, although he will likely have to settle for a deeper role against the mighty Juve this weekend.
Probable lineup(4-3-2-1): Cragno; Srna, Ceppitelli, Pisacane, Padoin; Barella, Bradaric, Ionita; Castro, Pedro; Pavoletti.
- Juventus are the only unbeaten team in Italy this season, having won nine of their ten games in the league thus far.
- Juventus are unbeaten in their last 16 matches against Cagliari in all competitions.
- Despite remaining unbeaten in their last three matches, Cagliari are winless in their last three away games.
- Juventus have scored at least 2 goals in 10 of their last 11 matches.
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Cagliari‘s last 6away games.
Player to watch
Following a slow start to his life in Italy, Cristiano Ronaldo is up and running once again, having scored four goals in his last three league games. The Portuguese international most notably helped his team secured all three points by scoring a second-half brace against Empoli in their last game.
Therefore, he has been the only bright spark in a Juventus team, who have underperformed in recent weeks. As a result, fans will be expecting Ronaldo to lead the side this weekend as Juventus face a stern test of breaking down a resolute Cagliari defence, making him one of the players worth looking forward to, in this fascinating encounter.
Juventus 1-0 Cagliari
Considering Juventus’ lack of form, Cagliari will surely be aiming for at least a point in this game. However, with Cristiano Ronaldo back in full flow which is coupled with a home advantage, we can expect Juventus to secure a narrow win over the Sardinians this weekend.