Juventus will be aiming to seal a place in the top four of the Serie A standings when they lock horns with Bologna on the final day of the 2020/21 season.

The curtains will fall on the 2020/21 edition of Serie A on Sunday night with plenty left to play for on the final matchday of the campaign. As things stand, the race for the top four is far from over, with four teams – Atalanta, AC Milan, Napoli and Juventus –  battling it out for the three positions behind champions Inter Milan.

Juventus have had a largely forgettable campaign, despite their recent Coppa Italia triumph to add to the Supercoppa Italiana trophy they won earlier this year. As things stand, they are staring at the possibility of missing out on Champions League football for next term, as they sit fifth in the table and that is something that they will be hoping to change when they take on Bologna at Renato Dall’Ara on Sunday.

The Bianconeri are three points off of Atalanta in second and one below both Milan and Napoli in third and fourth, respectively. So, apart from winning their game, the Bianconeri will also need those above them to drop points to stand a chance. They head into the game on the back of consecutive wins over Inter Milan (league) and Atalanta (cup final), which should boost their confidence.

As for Bologna, they have nothing left to play for on Sunday. Currently 12th, Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side are set for a finish just outside the top half of the Serie A and are without a win in their last six games in the competition (D4 L2), having played out a 2-2 draw against Hellas Verona in their latest fixture.

The reverse fixture, played in January earlier this year, ended in a 2-0 win for Juventus, with goals coming from Arthur Melo and Weston McKennie. Ahead of their latest meeting on Sunday, which could have great implications in the top four battle, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Bologna

Bologna manager Sinisa Mihajlovic will have to make do without as many as five players when Juventus come visiting with Nicolas Dominguez, Danilo Larengeira and Aaron Hickey out injured while Mitchell Dijks and Roberto Soriano are suspended for the contest. Federico Santander is back in training, which will be a boost for the Rossoblu.

Mihajlovic has confirmed that he will be making a change in goal on Sunday, with Lukasz Skorupski set to return in place of Federico Ravaglia. The rest of the team will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him with Takehiro Tomiyasu and Adama Soumaoro forming the centre-back pairing flanked by Lorenzo De Silvestri and Ibrahima Mbaye.

Jerdy Schouten should hold on to his place in the midfield double pivot and is set to be partnered by Mattias Svanberg, who is fit and available for selection for Sunday. The creative onus will fall onto the shoulders of youngster Emanuel Vignato, starting in the No. 10 role for Bologna against the outgoing champions.

There are set to be changes in the wide areas though, with Riccardo Orsolini and Musa Barrow set to get starting opportunities on the right and left sides respectively, from where they will look to create chances for veteran striker Rodrigo Palacio.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Skorupski; De Silvestri, Tomiyasu, Soumaoro, Mbaye; Svanberg, Schouten; Orsolini, Vignato, Barrow; Palacio

Juventus

Juventus do not have any pressing roster issues heading into the game as Aaron Ramsey is the only notable absentee for the Bianconeri due to injury while Rodrigo Bentancur is suspended. Alex Sandro, who missed the Coppa Italia final due to suspension, is back in the reckoning for the trip to Bologna.

Andrea Pirlo will set his team up in a 4-4-2 formation as usual, with Wojciech Szczesny replacing departing legend, Gianluigi Buffon in goal. Danilo ought to move to the right-back slot, with compatriot Sandro set for a starting berth on the left. Matthijs de Ligt and captain Giorgio Chiellini should form the centre-back partnership for the Old Lady.

With Danilo at right-back, Juan Cuadrado can slot in an advanced position on the right wing and look to get forward and pump in crosses for the forwards to attack while Federico Chiesa will also carry a major threat on the left with his piercing runs and ability to score or create. With Bentancur missing, Weston McKennie should move into the central midfield role, where he will partner Adrien Rabiot, with Arthur Melo an option from the bench.

Dejan Kulusevski, who was the star of the show for Juventus in the cup final versus Atalanta, ought to get the nod in attack alongside superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, with the likes of Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala being options from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Szczesny; Danilo, de Ligt, Chiellini, Sandro; Cuadrado, McKennie, Rabiot, Chiesa; Kulusevski, Ronaldo

Key Stats

  • Juventus have won all of their last ten matches against Bologna across all competitions.
  • Bologna are currently on a six-game winless run in Serie A.
  • Juventus have kept a clean sheet in seven of their last eight matches against Bologna in all competitions.
  • Since 2012/13, Bologna have scored just five goals in 15 league games against Juventus.
  • Juventus have conceded goals in 13 consecutive Serie A games for the first time since April 2010 when they went on a run of 19 games.

Player to Watch

Dejan Kulusevski

It has been a difficult debut season for Kulusevski at Juventus, with Andrea Pirlo still yet to figure out the Swede’s best position, resulting in him producing just seven goals and six assists from 46 games in all competitions. In the cup final, though, the youngster put in one of his finest displays of the campaign, as he scored and assisted a goal apiece to fire Juventus to the trophy.

Kulusevski thrived operating in the half-spaces in the inside right channel which he should once again be able to do on Sunday, with Cuadrado taking up the right wing slot to provide the natural width during the attacking phases. The 21-year-old, despite all the promise, is still a bit rough around the edges but a strong end to the season will certainly hold him in good stead and boost his confidence a great deal.

Prediction

Bologna 1-2 Juventus

Bologna have been going through a winless run for a while and given their past record against Juventus, things don’t look all too encouraging for Sinisa Mihajlovic & co. for Sunday. As for Juve, themselves, the wins against Inter and Atalanta will have come as major confidence-boosters, which should help them see out another win this weekend.

Whether that is enough for them to clinch a top-four finish will depend on the outcome of Milan’s clash against Atalanta and Napoli’s home game versus Hellas Verona.

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