Juventus will be hoping to close down the gap to the top when they make the trip to Stadio Luigi Ferraris to lock horns against struggling Sampdoria.
Juventus will be aiming to make it three wins in a row when they travel to Stadio Luigi Ferraris to take on Sampdoria on Saturday evening. The Scudetto dark horses have already closed the gap on league leaders AC Milan to just seven points after a stellar streak of 14 straight league matches without a defeat (W9 D5).
Given the nature of the Serie A title race this season, Massimiliano Allegri’s men still have an outside chance of grabbing the title from under the noses of their rivals. They edged out Spezia 1-0 last weekend despite a lacklustre showing. It seems they have rediscovered their old knack of eking out results without being stylistic on the pitch, which has proven to be pretty effective since the start of the year.
For all the criticism Allegri has faced throughout the season for Juventus’ inconsistent performances, the Turin giants are on course to defend their Coppa Italia title, while an unlikely Scudetto could also be on the cards. But in order to accomplish that, their current run of form will undoubtedly have to extend all the way to the end of the season.
Sampdoria, meanwhile, are languishing at 15th place in the standings and merely hope to retain their top-flight status. Marco Giampaolo has steadied the ship and helped Samp to a couple of vital victories in their battle against relegation since returning as manager. But they head into Saturday’s contest on the back of successive defeats, first a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Atalanta, then a 2-1 loss against fellow strugglers Udinese last weekend.
These two teams last met each other in the Last 16 of Coppa Italia, with Juventus claiming a 4-1 victory at the Allianz Stadium, while the Bianconeri defeated Sampdoria 3-2 in the reverse fixture in September last year.
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Sampdoria boss Marco Giampaolo will welcome back Kristoffer Askildsen and Vladyslav Supryaha, who return to contention after recovering from respective injuries. However, Mikkel Damsgaard and Manolo Gabbiadini will remain out of action with long-term injuries, while Ronaldo Vieira is also a doubt due to bronchitis.
The home team will line up in Giampaolo’s preferred 4-3-1-2 formation to offer defensive solidity and utilise the creative strengths of Inter Milan loanee Stefano Sensi on the break.
Wladimiro Falcone is expected to have a busy evening in goal for the Blucerchiati, with protection coming from the backline of Bartosz Bereszynski, Maya Yoshida, Omar Colley and Tommaso Augello, who will all look to stay narrow and avoid giving any space to the Juve attackers.
Morten Thorsby will also mark his return from suspension, and Albin Ekdal and Antonio Candreva will join him to form a midfield trio. The 35-year-old Candreva has shone for the Ligurian side this season, notching up seven goals and ten assists in the league.
Sensi has made a good start to his Sampdoria spell since arriving from Inter and will hold the responsibility to supply the veteran strike-force of Francesco Caputo and Fabio Quagliarella, who have combined to score ten league goals between them all season.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Falcone; Bereszynski, Colley, Yoshida, Augello; Thorsby, Ekdal, Candreva; Sensi; Quagliarella, Caputo
Juve’s injury list remains lengthy as January signing Denis Zakaria joins Paulo Dybala, Federico Chiesa, Kaio Jorge, Weston McKennie and Leonardo Bonucci on the sidelines, while Federico Bernardeschi is suspended from Serie A action following the accumulation of yellow cards.
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In a piece of big positive news for head coach Massimiliano Allegri, Mattia De Sciglio could return for Saturday’s trip to Samp, and is in consideration to start the game. The Italian coach has done away with his rigid 4-4-2 system lately because of injuries in the central defensive area and has utilised a 4-3-3 formation in recent games, which becomes a 4-5-1 out of possession.
Wojciech Szczesny is a safe pair of hands between the sticks for the Bianconeri and will be guarded by a back four comprising of Danilo, Matthijs de Ligt, Daniele Rugani and Mattia De Sciglio. The full-back duo will have the license to surge forward to support the attack but must be wary of Candreva and Sensi’s threats drifting out wide.
Arthur looks set to anchor the midfield with his brilliant passing and ball control, allowing the likes of Manuel Locatelli and Adrien Rabiot to push forward and make late runs to bombard the opposition box.
Juan Cuadrado is expected to start on the right wing, looking to cause menace with his direct dribbling and supply Dusan Vlahovic up top with his precise crossing. Alvaro Morata may have the freedom to drift into central positions to combine with the Serbian striker but will generally add width down the left-wing.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Szczesny; Danilo, De Ligt, Rugani, De Sciglio; Locatelli, Arthur, Rabiot; Cuadrado, Vlahovic, Morata
- The Bianconeri have won their last six matches against Sampdoria in all competitions.
- Juventus have collected the most number of points in Serie A since the turn of the year (19) and are among the five teams that are yet to lose a game in the big five European Leagues.
- Since 2013, Juventus have lost three away league games against Sampdoria (W6). Only against Roma (4) and Napoli (5) have they faced more away league defeats than versus Sampdoria in that period.
- Juventus have netted at least two goals in each of their last six meetings against Sampdoria in all competitions.
- Sampdoria have won their last two home league matches and have managed to keep a clean sheet in each of those encounters. They will be vying to make it three wins in a row for the first time since the 2018/19 season.
Player to Watch
Since joining Juventus from Fiorentina for around €81.5 million in the January transfer window, Dusan Vlahovic has proven he is worth every penny and has been a focal point in the Bianconeri attack. He has already netted three league goals for Juventus this season, bringing his Serie A tally for the current season to 20.
With other forwards such as Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata plagued by injuries and inconsistency, the onus is very much on the Serbian hitman to produce the goods in the final third.
Sampdoria 0-2 Juventus
With Juventus looking re-energised after registering consecutive clean sheets even in the absence of stalwarts Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, they can easily enter the tussle for the Scudetto in the upcoming weeks, since none of the three teams above them in the table have looked convincing recently.
While seldom entertaining to watch, Allegri’s troops are becoming adept in Juve’s old techniques of seeing out low-scoring victories, thanks to their defence. The Hard Tackle expects the visitors to continue their winning run and defeat relegation-threatened Sampdoria, while also keeping a clean sheet.