Juventus will have to better Chelsea’s result in the final UEFA Champions League group game to stand a chance to finish on top as they host bottom-placed Malmo.

Juventus shot themselves in the foot in the previous matchday when Chelsea shattered their impeccable record in this season’s Champions League with a crushing 4-0 defeat. After beating the Premier League side in the reverse fixture in Turin, the Bianconeri seemed destined to finish at the very top.

However, that defeat at Stamford Bridge has made sure Juventus now have a mountain to climb to clinch first place in Group H. They will now have better to Chelsea’s result on the final matchday to stand a chance of entering the next phase as group winners.

Juventus face a relatively comfortable task in their quest to secure three points as they host Malmo in Turin. In the reverse fixture, the Italian side were 3-0 winners in Sweden and will be aiming to replicate that result or, even better it.

Malmo have had a terrible Champions League campaign so far, securing just a solitary point. It came in the last matchday courtesy of their draw with Zenit St Petersburg, who are primed to secure a Europa League spot. The Russian side have a far superior record to their Swedish counterparts, hence cementing their status as the third-best side in the group.

Jon Dahl Tomasson will be hoping his Malmo side will finish 2021 on a high note, as this will be the last game of the year until their league season begins again in April. However, a win looks less likely as Juventus, under tremendous pressure, will not let another slip-up occur.

Team News & Tactics

Juventus

Massimiliano Allegri will have to make do without five first-team stars for this midweek Champions League clash. Aaron Ramsey, Danilo, Mattia De Sciglio, Federico Chiesa and Weston McKennie are all injured. Mattia Perin is also ruled out after testing positive for coronavirus.

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Allegri will not make many changes to the side that faced Genoa at the weekend. In the absence of a recognised right-back, Juan Cuadrado might continue to deputise in the role, while Leonardo Bonucci could come in for Giorgio Chiellini in central defence. Matthijs de Ligt will likely keep his place at the back.

Alex Sandro might start at left-back after Luca Pellegrini was withdrawn in the weekend league game at half-time. In a 4-4-2, Rodrigo Bentancur should start alongside Manuel Locatelli in central midfield, with Adrien Rabiot and Dejan Kulusevski providing the width on either flank.

Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala will continue their partnership in attack and be the leading strikers for Juventus. The duo will be hoping to add more goals to their kitty and help Juventus secure a win against Malmo.

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

Malmo

Malmo will have to play without Jonas Knudsen and Ola Toivonen, as both players are ruled out with knee problems. Oscar Lewicki and Felix Beijmo are also doubts, as late tests are expected to determine their participation.

Meanwhile, Anders Christiansen and Erdal Rakip are in contention for starts in midfield roles. The duo was recently sidelined with hamstring and knee problems but got a few minutes under their belt at the weekend.

Jon Dahl Tomasson is likely to stick with three defenders at the back, with Anel Ahmedhodzic, Lasse Nielsen, and Franz Brorsson set to take their positions in the backline. Eric Larsson and Soren Rieks as wing-backs flanking the three-man midfield unit.

Captain Christiansen will have the company of Sergio Pena and Bonke Innocent in the middle of the park. Prolific striker Antonio Colak and Veljko Birmancevic will lead the line in attack as the front two.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Dahlin; Ahmedhodzic, Nielsen, Brorsson; Larsson, Christiansen, Innocent, Pena, Rieks; Birmancevic, Colak

Key Stats

  • 2.5 goals have been scored in nine of Juventus’ last eleven games in the Champions League.
  • Juventus have kept a clean sheet in their last three matches against Malmo in all competitions.
  • Juventus have won their last three games against Malmo in all competitions
  • Juventus have scored at least two goals in their last three matches against Malmo in all competitions.
  • Malmo have failed to win their last six matches in the Champions League.

Player to Watch

Paulo Dybala

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The Argentine star has had mixed fortunes this season, although he slowly seems to be getting back on song in front of goal. His strike against Genoa at the weekend will fill him with confidence ahead of some really challenging games ahead. And the Argentine forward needs to build on it and keep the consistency levels intact if Juventus are to improve this term.

Against Malmo, he will face an opposition that might seem easy on paper and he will fancy getting a few goals on the night. Dybala will be key if Juventus wants to better Chelsea’s result in the final matchday and stand a chance of finishing as the winners of Group H.

Prediction

Juventus 3-0 Malmo

Malmo will probably end their Champions League campaign and 2021 with a defeat. They do not have a win to show for their cause this term in Europe, although it could be blamed on the relatively tough group, including Juventus and Chelsea.

Juventus have some level of pressure to better Chelsea’s result, as finishing at the top of the group is always a good thing in the context of the next round. Expect the Bianconeri to rise to the occasion and have a comfortable evening to brush Malmo aside by scoring at least three goals.

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