A struggling Cagliari will welcome a hurt Juventus side in a game that could have implications at either end of the Serie A table.

Italian minnows Cagliari will welcome Juventus to the Sardegna Arena in a game they cannot afford to lose. Gli Isolani are just three points off the final relegation spot and will be keen to use home advantage to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three. Walter Mazzarri’s side are on a four-game losing streak and with just a handful of games left to go this season, they need to stem the rot.

Juventus, meanwhile, are also coming off a loss last weekend, this time to title hopefuls Inter Milan. Last week’s loss more or less ended any faint hopes Massimiliano Allegri’s side had thoughts of challenging for the Scudetto. But they have little to play for in the league now and will be keen to get points on the board, guaranteeing a top-four finish for themselves.

Juventus have not lost an away game in Serie A since November 2021 and will be hopeful of extending that run. The Bianconeri have the upper hand in quality, and anything less than three points on the night will come as a shock.

Dropping points on Sunday will see Juventus cede ground to AS Roma, Atalanta and Lazio in the race for the fourth spot. Allegri’s men have held the upper hand in the fixture in the last few seasons, also securing a 2-0 win in the reverse fixture earlier this season. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.

Cagliari

Walter Mazzarri’s side are dealing with several injuries to key players and are woefully out of form. They are on a four-game losing streak and are in serious threat of getting drawn into the relegation fight. Kevin Strootman, Sebastian Walukiewicz and Nahitan Nandez will miss the game. To add to their troubles, Alberto Grassi will sit out the match thanks to a suspension.

Luca Ceppitelli and Daniele Baselli are doubts for the game and it remains to be seen if either will make the cut ahead of kickoff. Their return will certainly hand Mazzarri a boost ahead of the difficult fixture.

Gli Isolani look set to start in a 3-5-2 formation wherein they will look to outnumber the visitors in the midfield. Alessio Cragno will start in goal behind the back three of Andrea Carboni, Matteo Lovato and Edoardo Goldaniga.

Dalbert and Raoul Bellanova look set to start as wing-backs and will be tasked with guarding the flanks and also getting forward. Should Juventus seize the initiative, the Cagliari duo could drop deep to form a back five.

Marko Rog, Razvan Marin and Alessandro Deiola look set to start in central midfield and will look to keep the likes of Adrien Rabiot and Denis Zakaria quiet. Keita Balde and Joao Pedro will start in attack and hope to hit Juventus on the counter. Unless the Cagliari midfield seizes control of the game, there is every chance that the duo could end up isolated upfront.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Cragno; Carboni, Lovato, Goldaniga; Dalbert, Rog, Deiola, Marin, Bellanova; Balde, Pedro

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Juventus

Massimiliano Allegri’s men saw their 16-game unbeaten run in Serie A snap last weekend at home. They will be keen to put together another impressive run in the final seven games of the league campaign. Ironically, Juventus put up a stellar performance against Inter. Result aside, there was much for the Bianconeri faithful to be happy about from their last game.

The Old Lady will be without Mattia De Sciglio and Alvaro Morata, both of whom are suspended for the game. Alex Sandro looks set to drop to the bench, with Luca Pellegrini taking his place in the starting XI. Leonardo Bonucci is also available after a spell on the sidelines and could potentially take Matthijs de Ligt’s spot in the starting XI. The Dutchman has looked jaded in recent games and could do with a breather.

Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini have an excellent understanding of each other’s game and have played together for years. It remains to be seen if the Italian giants will pair the veteran duo at the heart of their defence.

Manuel Locatelli will sit out the game thanks to an injury. He will join long-term absentees Weston McKennie and Federico Chiesa on the sidelines. Allegri will be glad that Denis Zakaria is back and available for selection. The Swiss ace impressed off the bench against Inter and will be keen to put his best foot forward.

Juventus looks set to start in a 4-3-1-2 formation with Wojciech Szczesny in goal. The Polish ace will start behind a back four of Pellegrini, Bonucci, Chiellini and Danilo. With Locatelli out, Arthur Melo, Zakaria and Adrien Rabiot should form the three-man midfield. The lineup should also allow the Old Lady to shift to a 4-4-2 diamond if needed.

Paulo Dybala looks likely to start in the playmaker’s role behind Moise Kean and Dusan Vlahovic. Juan Cuadrado could be afforded a much-needed rest and could come off the bench in the second half.

Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Szczesny; Pellegrini, Chiellini, Bonucci, Danilo; Rabiot, Arthur, Zakaria; Dybala; Kean, Vlahovic

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Key Stats

  • Juventus have won ten of their last 11 meetings in Serie A against Cagliari.
  • Cagliari have lost more home games against Juventus than any other opposition in Serie A since the 2010/11 season. The Bianconeri have won nine of their ten games at the Sardegna Arena.
  • Juventus are unbeaten in away games in Serie A since November 2021.
  • Seven of the ten goals that Juventus conceded in the second half of this season have come from set pieces. Only Sassuolo have a worse record in that category.
  • Cagliari have scored just 16 goals all season at home in the league. Juventus, meanwhile, have found the back of the net 27 times away from home.

Player to Watch

Dusan Vlahovic

Embed from Getty Images

The Serb endured a frustrating night last time out against Inter Milan. While he did not have many clear cut chances, Vlahovic looked far from his best. He has an opportunity to make amends here against one of the poorer sides in the competition.

The Serie A top-scorer is, on his day, a game-winner and will be keen to put some distance between him and Ciro Immobile in the race for the golden boot. The Serbian striker has a good record against Cagliari and has scored four times in the last five games against the Gli Isolani.

Prediction

Cagliari 0-2 Juventus

Juventus played arguably their best 45 minutes of football this season in the first half against Inter Milan. The Bianconeri will be hurting and will look to get back to winning ways. Any faint Serie A title hopes Juventus had will have faded.

The focus will now shift to ensuring they hold onto the fourth spot. Cagliari are currently on a four-game losing streak, and Juventus’s quality should shine through in the end. Anything less than a comfortable win for the visitors will be a surprise.

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