UEFA Champions League qualification could be at stake, as Juventus travel to Stadio Citta del Tricolore to face Sassuolo on Wednesday.
Following a catastrophic 3-0 defeat at the hands of AC Milan, Juventus’ Champions League hopes are on the brink of collapsing as we head towards the business end of the 2020/21 Serie A campaign.
The Bianconeri have slipped out of the top four, and need one of their rivals to slip up, as well as well winning their remaining fixtures if they are to have any hopes of retaining their status as a Champions League side next season.
The result of Juve’s upcoming game against Sassuolo, in particular, could go a long way in dictating the fate of this Champions League race, especially considering their opponent’s form heading into this game.
Indeed, Sassuolo have registered five wins in their last six matches – a run of form that has helped them get back into the contention of a top 7 finish, as they are only trailing AS Roma by just two points.
The Neroverdi, therefore, will be desperate to seal all three points against Juventus. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at these two sides ahead of this crucial Serie A encounter at Stadio Citta del Tricolore this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
Sassuolo manager Roberto De Zerbi is regarded as one of the most sought-after coaches in Italy and the 43-year-old will once again be hoping to get the better of Juventus, especially given the fact that he could be one of the Bianconeri‘s prime candidates should they sack Andrea Pirlo in the summer.
For this game, De Zerbi is unlikely to make too many changes, despite the return of defender Marlon from suspension. The Italian has found a lot of success with the defensive pairing of Vlad Chiriches and Gian Marco Ferrari – making them favourites to start against Juventus.
Out wide, Sassuolo will rely on the services of the marauding full-backs in Jeremy Toljan and Rogerio. It will be interesting to see how these two link up with the central midfielders in Manuel Locatelli, who is a target for Barcelona, and Maxime Lopez, especially in evading Juventus’ press in an attempt to pass the ball out from the back.
The duo should also play a vital role in offering the transition out wide, thus allowing the wingers like Domenico Berardi and Hamed Traore to get involved in the proceedings.
Speaking of the Sassuolo attack, it appears the young rising star in Giacomo Raspadori should once again get the nod ahead of Gregoire Defrel, spearheading the frontline with the support of the wingers as well as the attacking midfielder and the creator-in-chief in Filip Djuricic.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Consigli; Toljan, Chiriches, Ferrari, Rogerio; Lopez, Locatelli; Berardi, Djuricic, Traore; Raspadori
Pirlo’s job in Juventus is currently under the microscope, with the Italian desperately hoping for a win that could go a long way in helping his club’s top-four hopes alive.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) May 11, 2021
The Juve defence crumbled to pieces against Milan in the last game, which may force Pirlo to bring about a couple of defensive changes. Danilo, in particular, should return to his right-back duties ahead of Juan Cuadrado in order to provide better balance in the back-four while Leonardo Bonucci is poised to replace Giorgio Chiellini.
There might not be any changes in midfield though, with Adrien Rabiot and Rodrigo Bentancur retaining their place in the double-pivot, largely because of the fact that the available alternatives in Aaron Ramsey and Arthur have not really made any impact in Turin.
It will also be interesting to see whether Pirlo persists with Weston McKennie on the right flank. Unfortunately, the American international might have to make way, with Cuadrado likely to occupy the more advanced role, along with Federico Chiesa on the opposite flank.
These two players should play a vital role in offering support for the main strikers in Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata, using their ability to either drift infield or whip in crosses from wider areas of the park.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, de Ligt, Sandro; Cuadrado, Bentancur, Rabiot, Chiesa; Ronaldo, Morata
- Juventus have lost only one of their 15 Serie A fixtures against Sassuolo, in what was the only meeting in which the Bianconeri failed to find the back.
- Sassuolo have gone unbeaten in two of their last three Serie A games against Juventus, as many as in all their previous 12 against them in all competitions.
- Juventus have scored two or more goals in each of their last nine Serie A meetings against Sassuolo, scoring 28 goals in total and averaging 3.1 per game.
- Sassuolo are unbeaten in their last seven Serie A home matches – only once have they had a longer such run in a single Serie A campaign in January 2016 (nine in a row, which included their only win against Juventus).
- Sassuolo have gained the most points in the last six Serie A matchdays, picking up 16 points in the process.
Player to Watch
Cristiano Ronaldo is the one to watch out for, following a 3-0 defeat to Milan that once again drew in major criticism. On top of that, his future in Turin now remains insecure, and the attacker might be set for a move elsewhere in the summer, should the Bianconeri fail to qualify for Champions League next season.
Ronaldo, therefore, will be determined to right the wrong after a poor performance on the weekend. The former Real Madrid ace has carried his team so far, especially in terms of productivity. His ability to find the back of the net, could once again be useful as the Juventus wingers in Cuadrado and Chiesa look to feed in crosses for the Portuguese sensation, up against this Sassuolo backline.
Sassuolo 1-1 Juventus
This could be the end of the road for Juventus, as far as their top four hopes are concerned. The Italian giants have shown very little creativity and idea all season and that could haunt them yet again against De Zerbi’s men, who are more than capable of holding them off in this crucial Serie A tie. The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-1 draw.