A struggling Juventus will look to get back to winning ways against Genoa on Sunday to return to contention for a top-four finish.

Massimilano Allegri’s second coming as Juventus manager has so far been a rather disappointing affair. The 54-year-old enjoyed great success during his first spell in Turin but has failed to repeat his heroics this time around.

I Bianconeri have lost five of their first 15 games in the league so far and find themselves floundering in the seventh spot. While a title charge appears nigh on improbable, Juventus will need to ensure they guarantee themselves Champions League football next season.

They are currently 10 points adrift of fourth-placed Atalanta with a game in hand. Defeating Genoa on the night will see them close the gap to a more manageable seven points. While it is far from ideal, it does put them in a better position to qualify for the top four.

In Genoa, Juventus have the right opponent to play at the moment. Losing to Atalanta in midweek would have hurt, but there is no time to dwell on the matter. Juventus will only be shooting themselves in the foot if they go into the game without preparation.

The Grifone have won just one game all season while drawing seven and losing another seven. Currently, in the bottom three, they are there for the taking should Juventus turn up on the night.

Blessed with a rather kind December run-in of games, the onus is now on Juventus to secure the results on the field. With Champions League progress already assured, Allegri could choose to focus on the league this month. With games set to come thick and fast, they cannot afford to lose more ground in what has been a rather difficult season.

Juventus have certainly shown themselves to have a soft underbelly in recent months. While Genoa could potentially take advantage of the same, their chances of doing so with the talent at their disposal appear unlikely. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics we can expect from them.

Team News & Tactics

Juventus

 

Massimiliano Allegri has several injury concerns going into the game. Danilo, Mattia de Sciglio, Federico Chiesa, Weston McKennie and Aaron Ramsey have all been ruled out and will not feature on the night.

Allegri will need to ring in the changes and looks set to bring Dejan Kulusevski into the starting XI. The Swedish international packs a punch on his day and could prove to be an excellent gamechanger.

Juventus look likely to form up in their usual 4-4-2 system, which usually changes shape as the match progresses. Wojciech Szczesny is a definite starter in goal and will have Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci ahead of him. Flanked by Danilo and Juan Cuadrado, the backline more often than not picks itself.

Adrien Rabiot looks likely to partner with summer signing Manuel Locatelli in the middle of the park. In the absence of Chiesa, the onus to provide width will fall on Federico Bernardeschi and Dejan Kulusevski. Both players have proven themselves to be inconsistent this season, and it is about time they stepped up.

Paulo Dybala has been one of the few positives for Juventus this season. The impressive Argentine international will partner with Alvaro Morata upfront. The duo has netted 12 of the team’s 29 goals so far this season and will again be held responsible for finding the back of the net.

In terms of quality, Juventus far outstrip their opponents for the night. However, they have failed to gel together on the field as a team and have relied on individual brilliance to often get them out of trouble. Whether the game against Genoa will act as a turning point remains to be seen.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Szczesny; Cuadrado, Bonucci, de Ligt, Sandro; Kulusevski, Locatelli, Rabiot, Bernardeschi; Morata, Dybala

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Genoa

Genoa are in a similar boat to Juventus and have some players unavailable on the night. Mohamed Fares, Felipe Caicedo, Domenico Criscito, Mattia Bani and Nikola Maksimovic are sidelined for the night. Striker Mattia Destro is a major doubt as he continues to recover from injury.

AC Milan legend Andriy Shevchenko took over from Davide Ballardini earlier in the season. However, the Ukrainian has failed to improve Genoa’s fortunes and is still searching for his first Serie A win since taking over. He looks set to deploy the Grifone in a 3-5-2 system. Salvatore Sirigu is set to start in goal behind the centre-back trio of Johan Vasquez, Zinho Vanheusden and Andrea Masiello.

The central midfield trio of Valon Behrami, Milan Badelj and Hernani will be tasked with gaining a foothold for Genoa in the middle of the park. Shackling Manuel Locatelli on the night could enable Genoa to cut off the service to the Juventus forwards, isolating them upfront. This could very well force Paulo Dybala to drop into midfield, leaving Alvaro Morata to chase shadows upfront.

Stefano Sabelli and Andrea Cambiaso will offer the width on the flanks, with Caleb Ekuban and Flavio Bianchi will lead the line in attack. The disparity in quality between both teams is clear, and Juventus are the overwhelming favourites despite their injuries. However, there is no better time than now for Shevchenko to get his Genoa revolution underway.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Sirigu; Vasquez, Vanheusden, Masiello; Sabelli, Behrami, Badelj, Hernani, Cambiaso; Bianchi, Ekuban

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Key Stats

  • Genoa have won just four of their last 35 Serie A games against Juventus (D8 L23).
  • Genoa last won away to Juventus in 1991.
  • Juventus are undefeated in their previous 17 home matches against Genoa in all competitions.
  • Juventus have scored at least two goals in their last five games against Genoa in all competitions.
  • Only the bottom five teams in Serie A have scored fewer goals than Juventus in Serie A this season.

Player to Watch

Dejan Kulusevski

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With Federico Chiesa unavailable, the onus will fall upon Dejan Kulusevski to provide the inspiration on the wings. The Swede cuts a frustrating figure at times but can turn up the heat when needed. It will not come as a surprise if most of Juventus’s attacks are channelled down their right flank on the night.

Good on the ball, and with pace to burn, the 21-year-old could prove to be a real handful on the right. Juventus’s attack could depend on Kulusevski and Juan Cuadrado’s partnership on the flank.

A lack of creativity from the midfield has often forced Dybala to drop deep. This would help Genoa as they can then cut off the rather stoic Morata, rendering him ineffective. All of that can be avoided if Kulusevski decides to turn up the heat on the night. With the excellent Manuel Locatelli also beside him, the Swede could end up making the difference on the night.

Prediction

Juventus 2-1 Genoa

While Juventus are certainly there for the taking, Genoa do not have the ability nor the form to pick off the Turin giants. In the end, the quality of the home side will be expected to shine through, securing them a much-needed win.

The likes of Paulo Dybala and Dejan Kulusevski are proven match-winners and could make the difference with a moment of magic. The same cannot be said of those in Genoa colours. Therefore, The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Massimiliano Allegri & co.

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