Juventus will seek to strengthen their grip on the fourth spot on the Serie A table when they take on Bologna at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday.

Having lost any faint chances they had of challenging for the Scudetto, Massimilano Allegri’s side will have to contend with a top-four finish in the Serie A this season.

The win against Cagliari last weekend saw the Bianconeri return to winning ways and hold onto a five-point lead over fifth-placed AS Roma. Jose Mourinho’s side have raised their game in recent weeks, but Juventus have their UEFA Champions League destiny in their own hands going into the final six games of the league campaign.

A win on the night will give Allegri’s men enough breathing space to go into their Coppa Italia semi-final, the second leg against Fiorentina, with confidence. With the cup the only opportunity for Juventus to win a trophy this season, it is imperative that they maintain the winning momentum.

The Bianconeri have endured a funny season where they have found ways to secure favourable results despite not playing well. In Bologna, they face a team comfortable in the 12th spot and have little to play for.

I Rossoblu have won just two of their last 12 games but held AC Milan to a goalless draw just a fortnight ago. They can turn up the style on their day and could surprise Juventus if the home side fail to showcase their A-game.

The onus is on Allegri and co to secure all three points on the night, and with home advantage to boot, nothing less should be expected. The Hard Tackle now looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics we can expect.

Juventus

Weston McKennie and Federico Chiesa are long term absentees for Juventus. Both Manuel Locatelli and Kaio Jorge continue to recover but are still some way away from returning to action.

Allegri was handed further concerns after Arthur Melo and Juan Cuadrado recently made the injury list. The latter could yet feature on the night, but the former is unlikely to be risked given Juventus’s threadbare options in the middle of the park.

It is not all gloom as both Alvaro Morata and Mattia De Sciglio are back available after serving their one-game suspension against Cagliari. Denis Zakaria also has more minutes under his belt following the return from injury and will be raring to go.

Juventus are likely to start in a 4-4-2 that could shift to a 4-3-1-2 with Paulo Dybala serving as the playmaker. This will give them more penetration as they look to break down a Bologna side that has not conceded a goal in over 180 minutes of Serie A action.

Wojciech Szczesny is the sure starter in goal and will play behind a back four of Danilo, Leonardo Bonucci, Matthijs de Ligt, and Luca Pellegrini. Federico Bernardeschi looks set to deputise for Cuadrado on the right flank with Adrien Rabiot occupying the other side.

Denis Zakaria will be tasked to hold the fort in the middle of the pitch. The solidity offered by the Swiss international will give Dybala the freedom to get forward and link up with the front two of Dusan Vlahovic and Alvaro Morata.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, De Ligt, Pellegrini; Bernardeschi, Zakaria, Rabiot, Dybala; Vlahovic, Morata.

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Bologna

Nigerian midfielder Kingsley Michael is the only player likely to miss out for Bologna who have an otherwise full-strength lineup to choose from.

The Serie A outfit have won just two of their last 12 Serie A games but have shown steel of late. They made life difficult for Atalanta before tightening up the defence post the international break. Both AC Milan and Sampdoria failed to find a way past the Rossoblu rearguard in recent weeks.

It remains to be seen if Kevin Bonifazi and Roberto Soriano will both return to the lineup as Bologna seeks to blunt a Juventus attack that appears to have rediscovered its bite.

It was revealed towards the end of March that Bologna manager Sinisa Mihajlovic will undergo treatment for leukaemia. The 53-year-old was initially diagnosed with the issue in 2019 and will now undergo further treatment.

This news appears to have galvanised his side as they have since picked up their form. He claimed that the Bologna players will fight for him, and that certainly appears to be the case. Milan found it to their bane that Bologna can be dogged in defence, while Sampdoria were outplayed last week.

With the players up for the game, Juventus cannot afford to let their guard down on the night. While Bologna might not have much to fight for in terms of achievements on the field, their togetherness and desire to make Mihajlovic proud is a solid motivational tool.

The visitors are likely to start in a 3-5-2 formation with Lukasz Skorupski in goal behind a back three of Arthur Theate, Gary Medel and Adama Soumaoro. The midfield five more or less selects itself. The trio of Michel Aebischer, Mattias Svanberg and Jerdy Schouten will start in the middle with Aaron Hickey and Mitchell Dijks acting as wing-backs.

Dijks and Hickey could also drop back and form a back five should Juventus push up the field. They did so against Milan, making life difficult for the Rossoneri attack. Marko Arnautovic and Musa Barrow look set to start upfront and will get stuck in against the likes of Leonardo Bonucci and co.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Skorupski; Soumaoro, Medel, Theate; Dijks, Aebischer, Schouten, Svanberg, Hickey; Barrow, Arnautouvic

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Key Stats

  • Juventus have won their last 11 games against Bologna in Serie A. This is the Bianconeri‘s best winning streak against an opposing team in the Italian top flight.
  • Juventus have lost just one of their last 25 home games against Bologna.
  • Juventus have picked up more points in the second half this season in Serie A (28).
  • Bologna have picked up just two points from the second half in Serie A away games this season. This is the fewest among all Italian top-flight sides.
  • Bologna have kept 11 clean sheets in Serie A this season. Their best run since 2010-11.

Player to watch

Paulo Dybala

On the radars of Barcelona (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

The gamechanger? (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

While the addition of Dusan Vlahovic has handed Bianconeri a reliable goalscorer to lead the line, it has also helped Dybala return to his best. With an infallible goalscorer ahead of him, the Argentine has the freedom to drop deep and play between the lines.

His ability to connect the midfield to the attack and make probing runs and decisive passes is a gamechanger. Bologna showed against AC Milan that they can defend resolutely and should they turn up on the night, Dybala’s presence could make the difference for Juventus.

Prediction

Juventus 2-0 Bologna

Depending on both the history of the fixture and recent form, it is difficult to see anything past a Juventus win on the night. The Bianconeri have much to play for and have the upper hand in quality.

Having rediscovered their winning touch against Cagliari, Allegri and his men will be keen to keep their run going until the end of the season. Bologna have struggled to save away games after going behind and a solid first half from the home side should see them end up with points in the bag.

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