Preview: Juventus vs. Monza
Aiming to complete an unlikely double over Serie A’s fallen giants Juventus, mid-table Monza visit the Old Lady on Sunday afternoon.
While Juve are still reeling from their dramatic points deduction, which leaves them only narrowly ahead of their opponents in the standings, the buoyant Biancorossi are five games unbeaten and remain on course for survival.
Enmeshed in the controversy which so often rears its head around their part of Turin, last week Juventus found themselves docked 15 points for some obscure player trading and were in off-field disarray when in-form Atalanta came to town.
However, Max Allegri’s men managed to rise above such distractions by putting on one of their most fluent displays of the season – and just days after being thrashed by then title rivals Napoli at Stadio Maradona.
Juve came from behind to lead at half time, thanks to goals from Angel Di Maria and Arkadiusz Milik, but then let their advantage slip shortly after the break. Danilo’s 65th-minute strike ultimately rescued a point for the Bianconeri, in front of a sparse Allianz Stadium crowd.
The club’s fans – so accustomed to success in the past – have been dealt a bitter blow by the FIGC’s (Italian Football Federation) points penalty, which sees Juventus occupy an unfamiliar 10th place in the table at the season’s halfway stage – 14 points adrift of the top four and even behind city rivals Torino.
Soon to kick off their Europa League campaign against Nantes, having exited the Champions League at its group stage, their only hope of salvaging some silverware could therefore come in the cups: Juve edged through to the Coppa Italia quarter-finals earlier this month by coming from behind to beat this week’s visitors 2-1.
That served as a small slice of revenge for the Old Lady’s humbling loss in Lombardy, when the teams met earlier this season in Serie A, and the hosts will be keen to serve up a second helping on Sunday.
Back in September, when they were yet to claim a first Serie A win in their debut top-flight campaign, Monza welcomed a former Juventus player into their dugout on temporary terms, in place of promotion-winning coach Giovanni Stroppa.
Raffaele Palladino stepped into the breach with some gusto, too, as not only did he organise the Biancorossi sufficiently to stop Juve scoring, but they also seized a famous victory after Di Maria was sent off and Christian Gytkjaer scored the only goal of the game.
Since then, Monza have steadily progressed up the table, and though they were denied a place in the Coppa quarter-finals by the Bianconeri, the 2022-23 campaign has been a success story so far for an openly ambitious club.
Of late, Palladino has steered his side to an unbeaten run of five league games, and since Serie A returned to 20 teams in 2004, Monza have posted the most points in the season’s first half of any top-flight debutant (22).
After a 3-2 win at Cremonese followed commendable draws with both Inter and Fiorentina, they were held at home by struggling Sassuolo last weekend, when Gianluca Caprari’s second-half strike earned another valuable point. Now, victory in Turin would achieve the unthinkable and take them above once-mighty Juventus in the table.
Juventus Serie A form:
Juventus form (all competitions):
Monza Serie A form:
Monza form (all competitions):
We say: Juventus 2-1 Monza
For all their failings on and off the pitch, Juventus remain a formidable force at home in Serie A, and their unbeaten record will stretch to its 11th league game on Sunday. Generally solid at the back and with more attacking options as a long injury list subsides, Juve can make up lost ground with a win.