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Preview: Juventus vs. Cagliari - prediction, team news, lineups
21/12/2021 11:33:35

Seeking to stay in touch with Serie A's top four ahead of the mid-season break, Juventus host lowly Cagliari in their final fixture of 2021 on Tuesday.


In contrasting form, the two sides convene in Turin, with Juve winning four of their last five games in all competitions and their visitors still searching for a first victory since October.


We say: Juventus 2-0 Cagliari


Even if Juve have faltered against some of Serie A's minnows during the last year or so, a routine win to end 2021 must surely be on the cards against Cagliari.


With confidence visibly draining away during their crushing home defeat at the weekend, the Rossoblu will be no match for a home side that is fully focused on catching the once-distant top four.


Match preview


Continuing their run of games against some of Calcio's lesser lights on Saturday, Juventus extended their unbeaten run to five matches, thanks to a goal in each half from Alvaro Morata and Juan Cuadrado against Bologna.


The Bianconeri's routine success in foggy Emilia-Romagna ensured that they not only got back on track after slipping up in a 1-1 draw at promoted Venezia, but also kept pace with Roma - one of their main rivals for a top-four place. Nonetheless, Max Allegri's men still sit 12 points behind league leaders Inter, who won again on Friday, with just one game to go before the season's first half draws to a close.


Though Morata found the net for fifth time this term with his strike at Dall'Ara, Allegri's side remain short of ideas and incision in and around the final third. Indeed, Juventus are the lowest-scoring team in the top half of the table, but their coach has intimated that no reinforcements will be added during the upcoming transfer window due to financial restrictions at the club.


Surely, though, the former Milan manager will have enough firepower at his disposal to take care of business in midweek, when the Bianconeri host a side who they beat home and away last season.


In all, Juventus have won nine of their last 10 league matches against Cagliari - keeping seven clean sheets in that spell of dominance - so they now conclude 2021 with a match they start as overwhelming favourites.


Having also been restricted to just four goals in 10 meetings with the Old Lady since their return to the top flight in 2016, precedent as well as recent form will be up against an ailing Cagliari side on Tuesday.


Despite ex-Napoli boss Walter Mazzarri's appointment in September, the Isolani are still struggling to stay afloat, with just one Serie A win all season after Udinese left Sardinia on Saturday with all three points.


In a thoroughly dispiriting affair for the home side, Gerard Deulofeu's stunning double helped the visitors to a 4-0 victory, after which the Cagliari players' efforts were roundly criticised by the Italian press.


Though last week's Coppa Italia win over Serie B side Cittadella at least brought some brief respite from their apparently inexorable decline, the Rossoblu have now picked up just four points from their last six league outings to slip further into danger ahead of the halfway point.


If Juve thought their lack of fluency in front of goal was troubling, then Mazzarri has every right to consider his team's current penalty area malaise a full-blown crisis, as Cagliari have found the net at a rate of under one goal per game to date. They have also scored just five times away from their Sardinian headquarters, so adding any more at the Allianz Stadium would represent an unexpected Christmas present.


Team News


After receiving public criticism from his manager after the win over Bologna at the weekend, Arthur - replaced due to fatigue during the second half - is expected to drop to the Juventus bench on Tuesday. In his place would come either Manuel Locatelli or Rodrigo Bentancur, who both appeared as substitutes last time out.


Federico Chiesa, Danilo and Aaron Ramsey remain sidelined for the home side due to injury, while left-back Luca Pellegrini is a doubt for Juve's final game of a challenging year, after suffering a calf injury on Saturday.


Brought on to replace the recent regular in Max Allegri's back four, Alex Sandro should start instead, while his fellow Brazilian Kaio Jorge is in line to play if Paulo Dybala is not passed fit to feature in the forward line.


Following his second-half dismissal against Udinese, Cagliari midfielder Razvan Marin must serve a suspension, so misses out on the trip to Turin, with engine room colleague Kevin Strootman (knee) still out injured.


In their absence, Christian Oliva and Alessandro Deiola could start for the visitors in central midfield, alongside Nahitan Nandez - the subject of much transfer speculation over the past few months.


Sebastian Walukiewicz (hip) and Marko Rog (knee) are also ruled out for the Isolani, who could drop goal-shy Leonardo Pavoletti and reunite Keita Balde with captain Joao Pedro as the front pair in Walter Mazzarri's 3-5-2 formation.


Juventus possible starting lineup:

Szczesny; Cuadrado, Bonucci, De Ligt, Sandro; Rabiot, Locatelli, McKennie; Bernardeschi, Jorge; Morata


Cagliari possible starting lineup:

Cragno; Caceres, Ceppitelli, Carboni; Zappa, Oliva, Deiola, Nandez, Dalbert; Pedro, Balde

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