Serie A champions Juventus will be hoping to return to winning ways when they travel to Stadio Renato Dall’Ara to take on Bologna on Sunday.

Matchday 25 of the 2018-19 Serie A season will culminate on Sunday, albeit with the tie between Lazio and Udinese suspended. Defending champions, Juventus will be on show on the day as well, when they face off against 18th placed Bologna at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, hoping to continue remaining unbeaten in the league.

It has been a miserable season for Bologna, who have managed to win just three games all season and sit in the relegation zone. But, there have been promising signs since the appointment of Sinisa Mihajlovic, with the Rossoblu beating Inter Milan in his first game in-charge, collecting 4 points from three games and only being narrowly defeated by AS Roma last week.

Juventus, on the other hand, have dropped points in just three Serie A games this season, and are well on course for an unbeaten league campaign. But, Massimiliano Allegri’s men are coming off the back of a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, and will be keen on getting back to winning ways.

Juventus and Bologna have met twice this season – once in the league and once in Coppa Italia. The Bianconeri won both the games 2-0, and ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Serie A encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Bologna

There have been positive signs on show in Sinisa Mihajlovic's return to Bologna. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

There have been positive signs on show in Sinisa Mihajlovic’s return to Bologna. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Sinisa Mihajlovic does not have any fresh injury problems ahead of the visit of Juventus. On Sunday, the Bologna boss will be without just three first-team players, although Mattia Destro is a major absentee due to a thigh injury.

In addition to the 27-year-old striker, Rodrigo Palacio (muscle injury) and Giancarlo Gonzalez (thigh) are also unavailable, and have been excluded from the matchday squad. Mihajlovic, meanwhile, is expected to line his side up in a 4-3-3 formation, with the hosts looking to create most of their opportunities on counter attack.

While Lukasz Skorupski is the resounding first-choice goalkeeper, the Bologna manager also seems to have zeroed in on his preferred back four, with Mitchell Dijks and Ibrahima Mbaye being the full-backs, while Danilo and Filip Helander ought to be the central defensive partnership.

Roberto Soriano has quickly established himself as a regular, and should be the chief playmaker from midfield for Bologna, while Andrea Poli will be the tireless box-to-box midfielder. Erick Pulgar should be the Anchor Man for the hosts, hoping to keep a check on the Juventus midfielders.

Up ahead in attack, Federico Santander will be the star striker, while Nicola Sansone will hope to use his pace to good effect while cutting in from the left. Juventus loanee Riccardo Orsolini should line up on the right side of the Bologna attack.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Skorupski; Mbaye, Helander, Danilo, Dijks; Poli, Pulgar, Soriano; Orsolini, Santander, Sansone

Bologna

Juventus

Massimiliano Allegri has a couple of pressing concerns hampering his preparations for the trip to Bologna. On Sunday, the Juventus boss could be without as many as five first-team players, with midfield being a major cause for concern for the visitors.

While Sami Khedira is unavailable due to a problem with his heart, Emre Can is suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards. To add to Allegri’s worries, Miralem Pjanic is a major doubt due to illness, meaning Rodrigo Bentancur and Blaise Matuidi are the only Juventus midfielders who are fully fit.

As a result, Allegri might be forced to make use of a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Bentancur and Matuidi lining up in the midfield pivot. Meanwhile, the Juventus manager has confirmed that Mattia Perin will start in goal for the visitors, in place of Wojciech Szczesny.

The back four should see a few rotations, with Allegri flirting with the idea of resting Giorgio Chiellini while also confirming that Joao Cancelo will be the right-back, during his pre-match press conference. In place of the veteran centre-back, compatriot Daniele Rugani should start, with Leonardo Bonucci being his partner, while Alex Sandro is likely to be the left-back.

Up ahead in attack, there are doubts over the availability of Douglas Costa as well, while Juan Cuadrado is out till May. The Juventus boss though, has enough cover within his squad for the duo, with Federico Bernardeschi and Cristiano Ronaldo being the two wide men. Mario Mandzukic should lead the line for the visitors, with Paulo Dybala playing off him.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Perin; Cancelo, Bonucci, Rugani, Sandro; Bentancur, Matuidi, Bernardeschi, Dybala, Ronaldo; Mandzukic

Juventus

Key Stats

  • The two sides have met each other on 41 occasions, with Bologna managing to beat Juventus a mere two times (D10 L29).
  • Bologna last beat Juventus, in Serie A and in all competitions, in the 2011-12 season. The Rossoblu have gone 15 games without defeating the visitors since then.
  • Juventus have collected 66 points in Serie A this season, a joint-record for a team at this stage of the competition, considering three points per win.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo has both scored and provided an assist for three consecutive league games – the second time he has done so in his career in the top five European leagues (the first was with Real Madrid in November 2014).
  • The Portuguese superstar has scored the most goals (19 goals) and has delivered the joint-most assists in Serie A this season (eight).

Player to Watch

Nicola Sansone

The pacy winger holds the key for Bologna. (Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images)

The pacy winger holds the key for Bologna. (Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images)

If Bologna are to take anything from the match on Sunday, they will have to take the game to the Serie A champions whenever the opportunities present themselves. In order to do so, the hosts will largely look up to Nicola Sansone for producing qualities of individual brilliance.

The 27-year-old Italian international, on loan from Villarreal, is a pacy winger who has a bagful of tricks, and will need to produce everything in his arsenal in order to inspire a major upset. A key game which could perhaps be the making of the player’s career at a time he needs to make the best use of his peak years.

Prediction

Bologna 0-2 Juventus

Juventus may have faced nothing but disappointment in their last two games outside Serie A. But, in the league, the reigning champions have been quite solid, even if not spectacular for the most part. Defence is likely to shine again for the visitors, especially against a Bologna side that is one of the lowest scoring teams in the Italian top-flight.

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo is in irresistible form in league football, leading the charts for both goals and assists, and the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is likely to inspire a win once again. Expect Juventus to coast through to another win, bringing them a step closer to defending their Serie A crown. The Hard Tackle predicts a straightforward 2-0 win for Massimiliano Allegri & co.

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