Preview: Juventus vs. Sampdoria
Having seen their progress checked last week in Rome, Juventus return to Serie A duty on Sunday, when they host struggling Sampdoria at the Allianz Stadium.
The teams meet in Turin, heading in opposite directions, as despite their defeat Juve are on the road to recovery from a 15-point penalty and have plenty to play for in the cups, while 20th-placed Samp seem set for relegation.
After losing last weekend to fall further behind in the Serie A standings – where Champions League qualification rivals Roma now sit 12 points clear of the Bianconeri – Juventus must start another long winning run if they are to claim a top-four finish from the ashes of a troubled campaign.
Moise Kean’s late red card in the 1-0 defeat to Roma was Juve’s fifth in the top flight this season – the league’s highest tally, alongside Empoli – and such ill discipline has undermined hopes of defying a heavy points penalty to regain their place among Calcio’s elite.
Only three times under current coach Max Allegri have Juventus lost back-to-back league fixtures – though twice since he rejoined the club last term – so they will now expect to recover quickly in their more modest pursuit of overtaking sixth-placed Atalanta in the weeks ahead.
Such a finish would be far from satisfactory given the weight of history and expectation in their part of Turin, but it would secure a return to the Europa League – a competition in which Allegri’s men are just 90 minutes away from the quarter-finals.
Now providing the most probable route to a Champions League place for next season, and coming with the added bonus of silverware, the last eight of Europe’s second-tier tournament is within touching distance for the Old Lady, following a 1-0 win over Freiburg on Thursday evening.
Victory in the first leg of their last-16 tie – courtesy of a goal from Angel Di Maria – means that Juventus still have ambitions in Europe as well as the Coppa Italia, where they meet old foes Inter in next month’s semi-finals.
More immediately, before travelling to Germany’s Black Forest for the return leg they tackle Sampdoria, and Juve have won their last seven Serie A meetings with the Blucerchiati on home soil.
Only once before have Sampdoria suffered eight straight league losses to Sunday’s hosts in Turin, and not for over 70 years, which demonstrates the growing gulf between the two sides in recent times.
They did, however, manage a goalless draw in August’s reverse fixture, ending a streak of six consecutive defeats to the Bianconeri, and now aim to avoid defeat in both meetings of a Serie A season for the first time since 2013.
Dejan Stankovic’s side may see even such a moderate feat as being unlikely, though, given their ongoing woes this season: they sit bottom of the pile in the Italian top flight following last week’s stalemate with Salernitana.
Still without a single home win after a close-fought 0-0 draw, Sampdoria have scored the fewest goals of any team throughout the top five European leagues this season (only 11); eight of 10 previous sides to have scored so few at this stage of a Serie A season have ultimately been relegated.
Events at the other end of the pitch have barely gone better: in 2023, Samp have faced 17 shots on goal per game on average, again the worst such record of any club in Europe’s top five leagues.
As a result, the Genoese giants sit nine points from safety and are inching ever closer to the Serie A trapdoor, with their next two road trips sending them first to Turin, then to the capital for an encounter with in-form Roma.
Juventus Serie A form:
Juventus form (all competitions):
Sampdoria Serie A form:
We say: Juventus 1-0 Sampdoria
Masters of the 1-0 win, Juventus were dealt a taste of their own medicine last weekend, but they should surely build on Thursday’s success by getting the better of downtrodden Samp. The visitors can barely buy a goal, while their hosts tend to find a way past even the deepest defence – quite often through set-pieces.