Juventus will look to maintain their unbeaten record in domestic competitions as they face Bologna in the Round of 16 of Copa Italia.
Following PSG’s shocking defeat to Guingamp this week, Juventus now remain the only unbeaten team in domestic competitions from Europe’s top five leagues this campaign. And the Italian champions will look to preserve that record when they travel to Renato Dall’Ara to face Bologna on Saturday, in what will be a Round of 16 clash of the Coppa Italia.
The visitors haven’t been at the top of their game in recent weeks, failing to win two of their last six matches in all competitions while the other four games ended in a slender one-goal victory for the Old Lady.
Having said that, the Bianconeri are nine points clear at the top of the Serie A table and while it seems they are well on their way to winning their eighth successive league titles, Massimiliano Allegri’s men will be equally keen to retain their Coppa Italia title as they seek to conquer a treble this season.
Bologna, on the other hand, have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league. In fact, they are dawdling at the bottom end of the table, with just 13 points on the board.
They have also lost three of their last five matches in the league but with nothing to lose in this cup fixture, the Rossoblu will definitely try to cause an upset this weekend.
And here at the Hard Tackle, we take a look at both the sides ahead of their important clash on Sunday.
Tactics & team news
Head coach Filippo Inzaghi, a former Juventus star, won’t be dealt with any fresh injuries this weekend, although Andrea Poli will be suspended.
The 45-year-old will resort to the customary 3-5-2 formation he has used for the most part of this season, meaning we can expect Danilo, Arturo Calabresi and Filip Helander to be deployed at the heart of the Bologna backline.
Elsewhere in defence, Federico Mattiello will operate as the right-sided wingback while Mitchell Dijks will feature on the opposite flank. Both of these players have played a key role in recent matches and their athleticism coupled with his dogged nature could be key in dealing with Juventus’ threat from wider positions.
In midfield, Hungarian sensation Adam Nagy will replace Andrea Poli at the base of Bologna’s 3-5-2. He will be partnered by the trusted midfield duo of Mattias Svanberg and club captain Blerim Dzemaili, whose creativity and technical prowess will serve as a ray of hope for the Bologna faithful.
The Bolognia attack will be led by veteran striker Rodrigo Palacio, who will pair up with Federico Santander, who is club’s top scorer this season with five goals.
Probable lineup (3-5-2): Skorupski; Danilo, Calabresi, Helander; Mattiello, Svanberg, Nagy, Dzemaili, Dijks; Palacios, Santander.
Unlike Bologna, Juventus will be missing out on the services of few of their star players including Juan Cuadrado and Andrea Barzagli. However, Joao Cancelo has returned to full training and could make his return this weekend.
Allegri could make one or two changes from the side that secured a narrow win over Sampdoria in the last game. However, minimal changes are expected in the defensive department, with Daniele Rugani and Georgio Chiellini most likely to retain their place at the heart of the Juventus defence.
After missing out on five matches due to knee surgery, Cancelo will return to his customary right-back position, with Mattia de Sciglio making way while Alex Sandro will be slotted in as the left-back.
In midfield, Rodrigo Bentancur should return to the starting lineup, after missing the last game due to a suspension. He will be deployed at the base of Juve’s 4-3-3 alongside Blaise Matuidi and Miralem Pjanic, who will replace Emre Can.
And finally, in attack, Mario Mandzukic will lead the line for the Italian champions, partnered by the wide duo of Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a brace in the win over Sampdoria.
Probable lineup (4-3-3): Szczesny; Cancelo, Chiellini, Rugani, Sandro; Bentancur, Matuidi, Pjanic; Dybala, Mandzukic, Ronaldo.
- Juventus are one of three teams that are unbeaten away from home in Europe’s top five leagues this season.
- Despite only making his Serie A debut in August, only three players have attempted more shots than Cristiano Ronaldo (125) in the Italian top-flight since the beginning of 2018.
- Alex Sandro played the most Serie A games in 2018 without losing (31).
- Only two teams have lost more games than Bologna this season.
- Bologna are yet to concede a single goal in the Coppa Italia this season.
Player to watch
Portuguese sensation Cristiano Ronaldo is without a doubt, one of the most in-form players in Italy at the moment, having scored 11 goals in his last 12 league matches.
The former Real Madrid superstar is also the club’s top scorer this season with 15 goals in just 24 matches in all competitions. And his presence in the Juventus attack is sure to make a difference against a leaky Bologna side, who have conceded five goals in their last two games.
Therefore, we can expect the home side to defend cautiously and aggressively whenever Ronaldo gets the ball but it will be interesting to see how the Portuguese international reacts to Bologna’s rigid defending this weekend.
Bologna 0-3 Juventus
Despite appearing shaky in their recent matches, Juventus are huge favourites to advance to the next round, thanks to an excellent attacking lineup that has terrorized the opposition defences this season.
Bologna’s best bet would be to defend cautiously throughout the course of the game whilst hoping to take advantage of a slight lapse in concentration from the Juventus defenders, chances of which are close to none, with the Italian giants conceding only 11 goals in 19 games so far.