Preview: Juventus vs. Monza 

Preview: Juventus vs. Monza 

Aiming to shake off a humbling end to their winning run last week, Juventus return to action in the Coppa Italia on Thursday, as they face Monza for a place in the quarter-finals.

Last year’s beaten finalists finished the 2021-22 campaign without silverware, and having seen Napoli apparently crush their Scudetto hopes, they now start their quest to reach May’s cup final. However, their visitors were shock winners when the sides met in Serie A four months ago.

On the back of an eight-game streak of wins without conceding a goal, and knowing if they departed Stadio Maradona with maximum points they would trim Napoli’s lead at the Serie A summit from seven to four, Juventus kicked off last Friday’s blockbuster as serious Scudetto contenders.

However, just 90 minutes later their southern rivals had confirmed which of the two teams was best placed to dethrone Milan and claim the title, as the Bianconeri’s once steadfast defence was blown wide open again and again: 5-1 the final result, with Angel Di Maria’s goal proving the most minor of consolations.

From their best run in years to their worst loss in any competition for three decades, Juve have certainly endured a bitter blow – perhaps surpassing their group-stage Champions League exit, which featured defeat to Maccabi Haifa – and now staying in the top four is surely the limit of their ambitions.

Set to embark on a Europa League journey against Nantes next month, the 14-time Coppa Italia winners can seek solace in cup competitions instead, so will be particularly keen to clear their first hurdle on Thursday, at home to in-form opponents.

Max Allegri’s hopes of salvaging some silverware from another trying season start eight months after his team succumbed to old foes Inter in the final, and a side only promoted from Serie B for the first time in the summer now stand in their way.

In one of several setbacks in his less successful second spell in charge, Allegri saw his men beaten 1-0 at Monza back in October, when Di Maria received his marching orders just before the break.

On that occasion, former Juve winger Raffaele Palladino had just stepped into the Monza hotseat as caretaker coach, and the Lombardy club were rock-bottom of the top flight in their first attempt at the Italian elite.

Following their improbable upset of the Old Lady, under Palladino – now permanently in charge – they have recovered from a start of just one point from six games to reach mid-table security approaching the season’s halfway stage.

Saturday’s 3-2 win at last-placed Cremonese hauled the Biancorossi some 12 points clear of danger, which is much more what their owners had in mind when acquiring several established Serie A starters following promotion through the playoffs.

In their previous two fixtures, Monza had held Inter and Fiorentina to draws, and only taking their foot off the gas in the second half saw them squander a three-goal advantage in Cremona last time out, so they encounter Juventus amid some promising form.

Monza’s route to the Coppa Italia’s last 16 took in another pair of 3-2 victories – over Frosinone and Udinese – in the earlier rounds, but they now step up in class upon travelling to Turin.

Juventus form (all competitions):

Monza Coppa Italia form:

Monza form (all competitions):

We say: Juventus 2-1 Monza
For all Monza’s improvement and Juve’s stumbles, it remains a tall task for the visitors to reach the quarter-finals given the calibre of their opponents. Factoring in a tally of just two wins from nine away fixtures this term, even a much-altered Juve side should see off the Biancorossi’s threat and progress to the last eight.

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