Having teetered on the brink of full-blown crisis, a midweek win gave Juventus their belated first win of the Serie A season, ahead of the visit of Sampdoria on Sunday.
The visitors arrive in Turin after a thumping by Napoli last time out, while Juve squeezed past Spezia on a nervous night in the Ligurian port city.
Unthinkably starting the day down in the relegation zone following their worst start to a season for 60 years, Juventus travelled to La Spezia on Wednesday with pressure heaped upon them to secure maximum points.
Though recently returned striker Moise Kean gave them the lead, Juve briefly went behind just after the interval against their lowly opponents, as Janis Antiste cut through the Bianconeri defence with ease to confidently beat Wojciech Szczesny at his near post.
However, Max Allegri’s men regained their composure, as Federico Chiesa and then Matthijs de Ligt found the Spezia net in quick succession; earning a sorely needed 3-2 victory at the final whistle.
Having previously posted their first victory of the new campaign away to Malmo in the Champions League, Juventus had been unable to maintain that momentum, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Milan last weekend. Nonetheless, a modest streak of three games without defeat sets them up for a potentially decisive run of fixtures before the end of next month.
After hosting Sampdoria, the Turin giants must meet Chelsea and Zenit in Europe, while they have the Derby della Mole versus Torino and the Derby d’Italia against old foes Inter to come in Serie A – not to mention Roma’s visit just after the next international break.
Therefore, Allegri will be doubly keen that his side takes care of business against their second Ligurian adversary in the space of a few days, with recent precedent certainly on their side: Juve have won their last four Serie A matches against Sampdoria – scoring at least two goals each time and conceding only once – and have kept clean sheets in each of the teams’ last three meetings.
Sampdoria’s trying start to the 2021-22 campaign continued in midweek, as they were well beaten by irresistible Napoli at their Stadio Luigi Ferraris headquarters; suffering a defeat which punctured their hopes of a revival following a first league win last weekend.
At the fourth time of trying, Samp also registered their first Serie A victory under the leadership of Roberto D’Aversa last Sunday, as they came away from Empoli’s Stadio Carlo Castellani with maximum points.
Summer signing Francesco Caputo helped the Blucerchiati to a 3-0 success over the Serie B champions, but the concession of two goals in each half on Thursday saw them lose by a four-goal margin – leaving D’Aversa and company down in 13th place in the standings.
With confidence clearly having taken a hit, Sampdoria will certainly be cautious about their next assignment, as they have lost their last six away games against Juventus by an aggregate score of 19-2.
Even star striker Fabio Quagliarella, who regularly features in a veteran partnership with Caputo up front, has struggled against the side he once represented with distinction for a total of 84 games. In fact, the former Italy forward has netted just four times in 21 top-flight matches against the Bianconeri – and only once in 10 appearances for his current club.
Juventus Serie A form:
Juventus form (all competitions):
Sampdoria Serie A form:
Sampdoria form (all competitions):
We say: Juventus 2-0 Sampdoria
Getting over the line on Wednesday will give Juventus space to breathe, and they can back up their first league victory with another at the expense of inconsistent Sampdoria.
The Bianconeri’s attacking options are slowly stirring into life – with flickers of promise from Chiesa, Dybala, Morata and Kean in recent weeks – and that firepower should prove enough to overwhelm their visitors.