Juventus will look to head into the festive weekend in good spirits as they look to secure a second straight Serie A win when they face Cagliari.

Italian giants Juventus are yet to hit top form but have managed to eke out results in Serie A recently. The Bianconeri will take on Cagliari as they look to extend their unbeaten run in the league to five games.

The Old Lady were far from their best at the weekend against Bologna but did enough to see off the I Rossoblu. With the likes of AC Milan and Atalanta dropping points, Juventus now find themselves just six points off the top four. They can reduce that deficit to just three if results go their way midweek.

Allegri, however, will have to contend with several injuries to key players as he looks to put Cagliari to the sword. The visitors are enduring a difficult season and have won just one Serie A game all season. This sees them sit in the 19th spot, three points off safety.

The Bianconeri have failed to impress against the top teams domestically or in Europe. While they haven’t exactly turned on the style otherwise, they have done enough to get over the line against relatively lesser opposition. The match against Cagliari represents just another opportunity to keep that run going.

It has been a difficult year for Juventus, who lost their Scudetto crown and their best player in Cristiano Ronaldo. Allegri’s second coming has not gone according to plan, and the Bianconeri face a long road ahead of them in terms of rebuilding. A win on the night will see them end their 2021 campaign on a high.

The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.

Team News & Tactics

Juventus

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Paulo Dybala is still ruled out. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Allegri has several injury concerns to contend with and will once again need to put together a team that can hopefully get the job done at home. Paulo Dybala, Danilo, Federico Chiesa, Giorgio Chiellini, Luca Pellegrini and Aaron Ramsey are all unavailable for the match.

Dejan Kulusevski returned to action at the weekend, but Manuel Locatelli is a doubt for the game after catching a stomach bug. All in all, Allegri has crucial decisions to make. Federico Bernanrdeschi and Alvaro Morata stepped up at the weekend, and more of the same will be expected of them.

Wojciech Szczesny is a sure starter in goal, with Leonardo Bonucci and the impressive Matthijs de Ligt forming the heart of the defence ahead of him. Alex Sandro looks set to deputize for the injured Pellegrini at left-back. The consistent Juan Cuadrado will keep his spot on the other flank and look to overload the wing alongside Bernanrdeschi. The Colombian’s intelligence and his ability to make accurate crosses make him a key component in Allegri’s system.

With Locatelli in doubt, Rodrigo Betancur could return to the starting lineup alongside Weston McKennie and Adrien Rabiot. How well the trio performs on the night could impact how the attack functions. Alvaro Morata looks set to lead the line, with Bernardeschi and Moise Kean occupying the flanks.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3)Szczesny; Cuadrado, de Ligt, Bonucci, Sandro; McKennie, Bentancur, Rabiot; Bernanrdeschi, Morata, Kean

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Cagliari

Cagliari, for their part, also have several recognizable names missing for the game. Kevin Strootman, Marko Rog, Riccardo Ladinetti and Sebastian Walukiewicz are all injured. At the same time, Razvan Marin is suspended for the night after picking up a red card in the loss to Udinese.

Walter Mazzarri faces an uphill task given his side’s current form and lack of available options in midfield. The Italian tactician could be given little choice and hand Christian Oliva a rare start alongside Alessandro Deiola. That will especially be the case if Nahitan Nandez, who continues to be linked with a move away from the Sardegna Arena, is benched.

Gli Isolani look set to start the game in their 3-5-2 formation in an attempt to outnumber Juventus in midfield. Given the absence of Paulo Dybala and Federico Chiesa, Cagliari have a better shot at pulling off the three at a back system.

Alessio Cragno will start in goal with Luca Ceppitelli, Andrea Carboni and Giorgio Altare forming the three-man defence. Dalbert Henrique and Raoul Bellanova will be tasked with providing width and doubling back as full-backs while defending. How the duo fare against Sandro and Cuadrado could make the difference.

The midfield is likely to be the trio of Nahitan Nandez, Alessandro Deiola and Alberto Grassi. The duo of Keita Balde and Joao Pedro looks set to start upfront and will be tasked with causing the Juventus defence trouble. Whether they can do it remains to be seen.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Cragno; Carboni, Godin, Caceres; Dalbert, Nandez, Grassi, Deiola, Bellanova; Balde, Pedro

Key Stats

  • Juventus have won nine of the last ten Serie A games against Cagliari.
  • Juventus have scored in their previous 22 games against Cagliari at home.
  • Juventus have lost their final Serie A game of the year only once in the last 11 years.
  • Cagliari have failed to score in five of their last six away matches.
  • Juventus have the third-best defence in the Italian top flight this season with 17 goals conceded. Cagliari have the third-worst with 38 goals conceded.

Player to Watch

Alvaro Morata

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The Spaniard was in his elements against Bologna and led the line with merit. It is far from what is expected of the inconsistent striker who often oscillates between being Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The performance saw him give his side the lead on the night and also create more chances for his duration on the field.

With Paulo Dybala and Federico Chiesa out, the onus is on Morata to score the goals for the Bianconeri. He now has an excellent opportunity to end the year on a high. Cagliari aren’t the most solid of sides, and Morata can add more goals to his tally. Doing so will give the striker a renewed sense of positivity going into 2022. With the likes of Cuadrado set to put in crosses at whim, Morata could be set for a fruitful night.

Prediction

Juventus 3-0 Cagliari

Given Cagliari’s poor run of late, the match should be a straightforward win for Juventus. Allegri’s side are back in contention for a top-four spot and will need to keep their good run going to close the gap on their rivals. In Cagliari, they have an opposition that is beset by a loss of form and inflicted with injuries. The gulf in quality between both sides is apparent, and the onus is on Juventus to perform to their potential. Anything apart from a win for the home side would be a shock.

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