Juventus will be eager to start the year on a positive note against Cagliari at home, looking to remain at par with Inter Milan at the top of the table.
The Serie A has resumed after the end of the winter break and the reigning champions are set to take the field against a spirited Cagliari side at the Allianz Stadium on Monday.
Maurizio Sarri’s men ended the year on a high note and will like to continue that against a solid Cagliari side. The Old Lady have to get their act together as they are currently behind Inter Milan in the league table, albeit only on goal difference. So, Sarri will be keen to maintain that consistency level heading into the new year as we enter the business end of the season.
Meanwhile, Cagliari have been in a decent run of form this season and it is evident from their position in the league table (6th). However, Rolando Maran’s men have not been that impressive going into the new year as they are winless in their last three league games coming to this tough fixture against the champions.
But, Maran will hope that the new year brings new fortune to his side as they push for a spot in Europe next season. With both teams looking to start their year with a win, we here at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the sides ahead of their clash.
Team News & Tactics
There are a few selection headaches for Maurizio Sarri, as the Italian will be without the services of Giorgio Chiellini and Sami Khedira, who are both sidelined with injuries. Rodrigo Bentancur is also out of this clash through suspension.
Juan Cuadrado may start as the right-back, while Paulo Dybala may pair up with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain in attack. Wojciech Szczesny is the first choice for Maurizio Sarri under the bar, while Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs De Ligt are likely to keep their spots at the heart of the Juventus defence.
In midfield, Sarri is likely to keep Aaron Ramsey and partnering the Welshman there will be Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi. A lot will depend on the midfield for Juventus as they will look to control the game and dictate terms. In attack, Dybala will look to carry on his fine goalscoring form and will be well assisted by Higuain and Ronaldo.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Szczesny; Cuadrado, Bonucci, De Ligt, Sandro; Ramsey, Pjanic, Matuidi; Dybala; Higuain, Ronaldo
Just like Sarri, Rolando Maran also has his fair share of problems for this crucial fixture. Veteran defender Fabio Pisacane is suspended for this match and his unavailability may make way for Luca Ceppitelli. However, the good news for the manager is the return of goalkeeper Robin Olsen and midfielder Nahitan Nandez, and the duo are available to start the game against Juventus.
Cagliari are likely to play in a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Olsen starting in goal, while Ragnar Klavan will the backline. The experienced Fabrizio Cacciatore may return to the fray, while on-loan youngster from Juventus, Luca Pellegrini is also set to start.
In midfield, Nandez’s addition will add more energy to the whole team and will be partnered by Marko Rog and Luca Cigarini. Radja Nainggolan will play in a more advanced free role behind Giovanni Simeone, who will lead the line for the Sardinian club.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Olsen; Cacciatore, Klavan, Ceppitelli, Pellegrini; Nandez, Cigarini, Rog; Nainggolan; Pedro, Simeone
- Cagliari’s last win against Juventus came way back in November 2009 and since then they have faced 14 defeats and three draws.
- Juventus are unbeaten in their last 29 Serie A home games (W24 D5) and could take that count to 30 for the first time since 2017, when they face Cagliari.
- Juventus have struggled defensively as they have only managed to keep five clean sheets this season.
- Cagliari have won only two of their 38 away games against Juventus in Serie A (D14 L22), with the last win coming way back in January 2009 under Massimiliano Allegri.
- In Juventus’s last league game, Maurizio Sarri secured his 100th Serie A victory as a coach in what was just his 169th match
Player to Watch
Having scored nine goals in all competitions this season, the Argentinian forward has done well, but he has a lot to prove in a team full of superstars. Dybala has the potential to take Juventus to another level and with the season entering into its business end, Maurizio Sarri will expect a lot more from one of his go-to ean in this current side.
With only five goals in the league till now, the 26-year old has not necessarily performed at top level like he has in the knockout tournaments. He has to replicate that form in Serie A as well and the Dybala will look to start this new year with a bang by producing a flawless performance against Cagliari to start 2020 on a high.
Juventus 2-1 Cagliari
It has to be a tight affair where both sides will give every ounce of their energy on the field and late drama may unfold misery for one while the other may dance with joy. In this case, considering the quality and the current goalscoring form, Juventus have the edge over their visitors.
However, if Rolando Maran’s men can bring back their form from the autumn, then they have a chance to salvage something from this game. The Hard Tackle, though, predicts a narrow win for the hosts and a positive start to the year for Maurizio Sarri’s men.