Juventus will begin the defence of their Serie A title when they lock horns with Parma at Stadio Ennio Tardini on Saturday evening.

The curtains are set to be raised on the last of the top five European leagues this weekend. The 2019-20 Serie A season is finally getting underway, with defending champions Juventus in action on Saturday, when they will take on Parma at Stadio Ennio Tardini.

Parma were nervy customers on their return to Serie A last season, finishing 14th, just three points above the relegation zone. A closer look suggests that the problems lay in the not-so-comfortable surroundings at Il Tardini, with only Chievo Verona and Frosinone having poorer records at home than Parma.

But, for La Crociati, it has been a beautiful story of rising from the ashes of bankruptcy with three successive promotion clinching campaigns, which is now promising to pave the way for stability in the Serie A under the tutelage of Roberto D’Aversa.

As for Juventus, it has been a straightforward story of dominating the top-flight. The Bianconeri have triumphed in all but one Serie A season this decade, finishing atop the table in each of the last eight seasons. But, while they have been utterly dominant in league football, their objectives will be for a better showing in the continent, with the elusive Champions League crown being the object of desire for Juventus.

The corresponding fixture last season ended in a narrow 2-1 win for Juventus, with Blaise Matuidi netting the winner after Gervinho had cancelled Mario Mandzukic’s effort. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides in Parma, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Serie A encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Parma

Can Roberto D'Aversa and his men spring a surprise on the reigning champions? (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Can Roberto D’Aversa and his men spring a surprise on the reigning champions? (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Roberto D’Aversa does not have any pressing injury concerns ahead of his side’s season opening fixture. When Juventus pay them a visit on Saturday, the Parma boss will be without just two first-team players, with Luca Rigoni (knee) and Andrea Adorante (ACL rupture) the only unavailable players.

D’Aversa should line his side up in his typical 4-3-3 formation, wherein the prominence will be given to pressing the respective markers on the trigger points while having a high line at the back. Going forward, Parma will aim to be direct and go from back to front in a jiffy.

Gervinho will be the key man for the hosts, with his deceptive movements off the ball as well as his devastating ball-carrying abilities. The Ivorian will have Roberto Inglese for company in attack, with the 27-year-old being the central striker, while Yann Karamoh will likely take his place on the right-side of the Parma frontline.

In the middle of the park, Hernani will have a key role to play as the Anchor Man, holding the fort in front of the defence. Alberto Grassi and Antonino Barilla are likely to be the other two midfielders, with the duo keeping an eye on their respective opposite numbers as well as the two Juventus full-backs, when off the ball.

At the back, Parma captain Bruno Alves will have Riccardo Gagliolo for company in the central defensive partnership. Vincent Laurini and Giacomo Ricci ought to be the two full-backs, with Luigi Sepe taking his place in goal for the hosts.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Sepe; Laurini, Alves, Gagliolo, Ricci; Barilla, Hernani, Grassi; Karamoh, Inglese, Gervinho

Parma

Juventus

Most of the news leading up to the 2019-20 Serie A curtain raiser for Juventus has been about Maurizio Sarri. The Bianconeri will not have their manager on the sidelines for the first two games, as he recovers from pneumonia. In his absence, assistant manager Giovanni Martusciello will be the man in-charge for the Bianconeri.

As for the personnel in the squad, Mattia Perin (shoulder) and Marko Pjaca (knee) are the only major absentees for Juventus. Aaron Ramsey will not feature against Parma either, although he has recovered from a hamstring injury completely and is now looking to return to full fitness.

Despite Ramsey’s absence, Martusciello has a lot of quality options in midfield, with another summer arrival, Adrien Rabiot expected to make his competitive debut against Parma. The French midfielder will be the workhorse in the middle of the park for Juventus, like former PSG teammate Blaise Matuidi, with Miralem Pjanic pulling the strings as the deep lying playmaker.

At the back, there might be debuts for two more players, with Matthijs de Ligt and Danilo completing the right half of the Juventus defence. Giorgio Chiellini will be de Ligt’s central defensive partner, with Alex Sandro being the left-back. Wojciech Szczesny will take his place in the Juventus goal, with Gianluigi Buffon being his deputy.

Up ahead in attack, Martusciello has the choicest of options, with Cristiano Ronaldo the only certain starter. The Portuguese superstar will likely start on the left side of the Juventus attack, with Federico Bernardeschi expected to be deployed on the opposite flank. Paulo Dybala could lead the line for the visitors, albeit in a false nine role, with Gonzalo Higuain being his alternative.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Szczesny; Danilo, de Ligt, Chiellini, Sandro; Rabiot, Pjanic, Matuidi; Bernardeschi, Dybala, Ronaldo

Juventus

Key Stats

  • Parma have failed to beat Juventus in nine of their last 10 meetings in Serie A (D3 L6). The only success came in April 2015, with La Crociati winning by a solitary goal.
  • Juventus are without a win in each of their last five Serie A games (D3 L2) – their worst run in the top-flight since 2010.
  • Parma have drawn in 60 percent of their opening day fixtures in Serie A (15/25) – a record for sides currently in the Italian top-flight.
  • Juventus have won all three of their season opening Serie A games against Parma (1990-91, 2011-12 and 2012-13).
  • Juventus are the side with the most wins (56) and the most goals (190) on the opening day of a Serie A season.

Player to Watch

Paulo Dybala

Will Dybala grab his Juventus lifeline? (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Will Dybala grab his Juventus lifeline? (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

After a disappointing 2018-19 season, Paulo Dybala had a summer to forget. The 25-year-old was a peripheral figure for Argentina at the Copa America and his return to pre-season training with Juventus saw him reportedly being deemed surplus to requirements. Subsequently, a shock move to Manchester United was mooted, although it did not materialise eventually.

Most recently, the Argentine has been linked with PSG, but it is likely that he will be staying put at Juventus for the season to come. Handed a lifeline to save a stuttering career in Turin, Dybala is expected to feature against Parma, whose vulnerable backline should give him the opportunity to start the season strongly.

Prediction

Parma 1-3 Juventus

Juventus did not have the greatest of pre-season campaigns. Add to it the fact that they failed to win any of their last five games last season, coupled with Maurizio Sarri’s absence from the touchline on Saturday, and the Serie A champions do not look in the best of shapes for the new season.

But, the purposeful Paulo Dybala might have a point or two to prove against Parma, while Cristiano Ronaldo will always be a threat. As for the hosts, the threat of Gervinho should keep them in the fray in the early exchanges. But, Juventus have enough strength to stave off the challenge of Parma.

The Hard Tackle predicts a straightforward start to the season for Juventus, who should put an end to their miserable run of form in competitive fixtures by coasting to a 3-1 win over Parma in their first Serie A game of the season on Saturday.

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