Preview: Juventus vs. Sassuolo

Preview: Juventus vs. Sassuolo

Following their late escape from defeat in the Derby d’Italia, Juventus host mid-table Sassuolo on Wednesday evening, at the Allianz Stadium.

Juve’s second Serie A engagement in the space of three days sees them seeking to extend a nine-match unbeaten run in all competitions, and draw closer to the clubs just above them in the standings.

With some help from a controversial penalty call and Paulo Dybala’s cool head under pressure, Juventus managed to maintain their lengthy streak without defeat on Sunday, as they held champions Inter to a 1-1 draw at San Siro.

Second-half substitute Dybala netted an 89th-minute spot kick to steal a point for the Turin giants upon returning from his latest spell out of action – this time with a thigh injury. The mercurial Argentinian made the decisive contribution after the hosts’ Denzel Dumfries was ruled to have caught Alex Sandro inside the box and the referee changed his mind after consulting the pitchside monitor.

That result keeps Juve one point from a Champions League spot in sixth, on 15 points – level with Atalanta and Fiorentina – and follows a run of four straight 1-0 wins at home and abroad.

Those successes came at the expense of teams such as Chelsea, Zenit St Petersburg and Roma, demonstrating that coach Max Allegri’s presence is starting to take its desired effect on a previously inconsistent squad.

Even if goals have been harder to come by since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, the Bianconeri still possess enough potential firepower now that Dybala and Alvaro Morata are back in action, joining Federico Chiesa, Dejan Kulusevski and Moise Kean in the battle for forward places.

Such a quintet will be eagerly anticipating Sassuolo’s visit this week too, as Juventus have scored three goals against them in four of their last five meetings – and won 3-1 both home and away to the Neroverdi last season.

A tough start to the Serie A season under new management has seen Sassuolo sink into the bottom half of the standings, after many months occupying a top-half spot and continuing to defy the odds, which are stacked against a relatively modest club.

Alessio Dionisi’s men therefore met promoted Venezia on Saturday evening with the teams surprisingly level on points and separated only by goal difference. By the final whistle, though, the Emilians moved three points clear of their opponents and into 13th place.

Despite falling a goal behind just after the half-hour mark, Sassuolo responded rapidly through Domenico Berardi’s typically powerful left-footed strike only five minutes later. The hosts went on to secure a 3-1 victory after the break, in a game where they dominated both ball and territory.

The win relieves some pressure on Dionisi, as the Neroverdi had previously let a two-goal advantage slip to draw 2-2 with lowly Genoa, meaning they had posted a meagre four points from their six previous fixtures.

As ever, Berardi – with four goals and an assist from his seven outings so far – remains their go-to man in attack, but fellow Italy forwards Gianluca Scamacca and Giacomo Raspadori will also relish the challenge of outwitting their vastly experienced international colleagues in the Juventus defence on Wednesday.

Juventus Serie A form:
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Juventus form (all competitions):
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Sassuolo Serie A form:
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We say: Juventus 2-0 Sassuolo
Having posted four straight 1-0 wins and then held the Scudetto-holders to a draw on away soil, Juventus may not be a fully fluent side, but have started to regain the mentality which saw them enjoy such success under Max Allegri first time around.

For that reason, they can keep another clean sheet – despite the impressive attacking options at Sassuolo’s disposal – and pick up another valuable three points in their quest to catch the league leaders.

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