Italian giants Juventus will kick off their 2022/23 campaign with a home game against Sassuolo at the Allianz Stadium on Monday night.

It has now been two years since Juventus last won the Serie A title, and Massimilano Allegri will be keen to change that when he kicks off the 2022/23 campaign against Sassuolo at home in Turin.

I Bianconeri are coming off the back of a summer transfer window that saw them make some rather curious moves. Paul Pogba is the headline arrival, but the Frenchman is not yet fit to re-take to the field in the white and black. Angel Di Maria and Filip Kostic have also joined Allegri’s revolution and will be keen to make an instant impact.

In Sassuolo, Juventus are facing an opponent who can hurt them on their day. Given the injuries on their books, there is every chance that the Turin giants could be caught out if they aren’t at their best.

Sassuolo finished a disappointing 11th in the Italian top flight last season. They lost Gianluca Scamacca this summer and replaced him with talented South American youngster Agustin Alvarez. With Filip Djuricic also gone, the onus will be on star player Domenico Berardi to make the difference.

Alessio Dionisi will be keen to improve upon last season’s finish and can make an early statement with an opening day win in Turin. Juventus aren’t the force they once were and have been brought back to earth of late. Given the injuries on Juve’s roster, the game has a more balanced feel to it, and has the potential to be the first upset of the Serie A season.

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

Team News & Tactics

Juventus

Juventus were brought back to earth after a trophyless 2022/23 campaign. Their fall in recent years has coincided with the re-emergence of the Milan giants, leading to a monumental power shift in Serie A football.

Juventus opted for experience over youth in the summer transfer window, bringing in Paul Pogba, Filip Kostic and Angel Di Maria. One can argue that they are betting on immediate success over long-term development. With several players out injured Allegri will need to turn to his tactical acumen to negotiate a tricky opening day tie.

The Turin side will be without Federico Chiesa, Wojciech Szczesny, Kaio Jorge and Pogba, who are all ruled out with injuries. Weston McKennie and Juan Cuadrado are also recovering from injuries, and it could be a case of touch and go for the latter. Dusan Vlahovic also picked up a knock in pre-season but should be fit to feature.

Adrien Rabiot has been heavily linked with a summer move to Manchester United and is also suspended for the game. It is possible that the Frenchman might have played his last game in Bianconeri colours. Moise Kean is also suspended for the game, further adding to Allegri’s concerns.

Juventus are coming off a difficult pre-season that saw them fall short on several occasions. They have failed to adequately replace Giorgio Chiellini, Paulo Dybala, Matthijs de Ligt and Federico Bernardeschi, among others, all of whom left this summer. Alvaro Morata also returned to Atletico Madrid and promptly scored a hat-trick against Juventus in a friendly last week.

With several hits taken in the squad, Allegri is likely to field his side in a 3-5-2 formation that can also dovetail into a 4-5-1 when needed. Mattia Perin will step in for Szczesny and start behind a back three of Danilo, Leonardo Bonucci and Gleison Bremer. With Chiellini no more at the club, the onus will fall on Bonucci to lead the defence.

Kostic is likely to make his debut as the left wing-back, with Cuadrado lining up on the other wing. Manuel Locatelli and Denis Zakaria will start in the middle of the pitch alongside youngster Nicolo Fagioli. The 21-year-old has immense potential and now has the opportunity to stake a claim for regular senior football.

Dusan Vlahovic will start upfront and is likely to be the difference maker for the home side. Angel Di Maria could start alongside him and can also function in a free role by dropping back into space to progress the ball. The Argentine can also drop onto the right wing, leaving space for Zakaria to push forward from central midfield.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Perin; Danilo, Bonucci, Bremer; Cuadrado, Zakaria, Locatelli, Fagioli, Kostic; Di Maria, Vlahovic

homecrowd-formation-SWiaUH3HV8VMaZu1Bjsl

Sassuolo

Sassuolo have been the dark horses in Serie A over the past few years, capable of the fantastic and also the ridiculous. Replacing Gianluca Scamacca will be a tough task, and the Neroverdi were given a rude shock in their 3-2 defeat to lower league side Moderna in the Coppa Italia first-round fixture.

Alessio Dionisi will be keen to shake off the defeat, and there is no better way to do that than to silence the Allianz Stadium. Juventus do not inspire fear like before, and there for the taking should the game be taken to them. How fast Sassuolo can get stuck in could decide the pace of the tie.

The visitors will be without Hamed Traore, who is out injured and Maxime Lopez, who is suspended for the game. The latter was the hero in the corresponding fixture last season and will be a huge miss for Sassuolo. Dionisi is likely to deploy his side in a 4-3-3 formation that can restructure into a 4-2-3-1- or a 4-4-2 if needed. Given that Juventus will look to overload their midfield, this flexibility will offer Sassuolo options.

Andrea Consigli will start in the visitors’ goal with a flat backline of Mert Muldur, Riccardo Marchizza, Gian Marco Ferrari and Giorgos Kyriakopoulos shielding him.

Davide Fratessi is likely to start as the defensive midfielder with Pedro Obiang and Kristian Thorstvedt positioned slightly ahead to make attacking plays. Domenico Berardi and Emil Konradsen Ceide will start on either side of Giacomo Raspadori, who is likely to lead the line on the night.

How well the Sassuolo midfield trio can link up could decide the game’s pace. With Dybala gone, Juventus lack someone who can link the midfield to that attack, and this is something Sassuolo can take advantage of. Di Maria is not getting any younger, and shackling him will leave Vlahovic starved of service up top.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Consigli; Muldur, Marchizza, Ferrari, Kyriakopoulos; Obiang, Frattesi, Thorstvedt; Berardi, Raspadori, Ceide

homecrowd-formation-NKkYHXY8lTT3oOnOoPvy

Key Stats

  • Sassuolo have lost to Juventus 13 times in Serie A so far, more than any other opposition in their top-flight history.
  • Sassuolo have failed to keep a clean sheet against Juventus in 17 of their last 18 games across all competitions.
  • Failure to win on Monday will see Juventus go winless in their opening Serie A game in successive seasons for the first time since 1979/80.
  • Juventus have won 11 of the last 12 times they began their Serie A campaign at home. The last time they lost was against Udinese in 2015/16.
  • Juventus are unbeaten in 11 of their last 12 home games. They have also scored two or more goals against Sassuolo in 12 of their last 13 games.

Player to Watch

Manuel Locatelli

Embed from Getty Images

The former Sassuolo man enjoyed a mixed debut season at Juventus and struggled with injuries at various times. With several players out, it will now fall onto the Italian international to pull the strings in midfield.

Locatelli’s ability to find a pass and also move into space will give the Old Lady an attacking impetus from the middle of the park. Winning the midfield battle will ensure that Dusan Vlahovic is not starved of opportunities and potentially make the difference on the night. The last thing Massimiliano Allegri would want is for his star striker to be isolated upfront.

Denis Zakaria’s athleticism and Nicolo Fagioli’s hunger to impress will tie in with Locatelli’s ability to set the pace for the game. The Italian will also be tasked with switching play from wing to wing given the arrival of Kostic. How well he can pull strings could decide the outcome of the game.

Prediction

Juventus 1-1 Sassuolo

With home advantage and better players to boot, Juventus will go into the game as favourites. However, given the names unavailable on the night, they could struggle to impose themselves. Sassuolo will also be itching for an upset following their shock loss in the Coppa Italia last weekend. Juventus have lost their fear factor of old, and it will come as no surprise if they limp home to a 1-1 draw.

Leave A Comment...

*