The re-imposition of a points penalty, a painful European exit and successive league defeats saw Juve end May gloomily – and they can finish no higher than fifth – but the Turin giants now tackle one of their favourite opponents, having dominated their fellow Bianconeri for many years.
Even in a campaign pock-marked by lows such as failing in the Champions League group stage, being beaten twice by promoted Monza and losing a Coppa Italia semi-final to arch-rivals Inter, the past fortnight has perhaps been hardest to stomach for crisis club Juventus.
The latest points deduction in a long-running saga was handed down between elimination in the Europa League semis and being battered by modest Empoli in Serie A, and Max Allegri’s men suffered their third straight defeat when they met Milan last Sunday.
Olivier Giroud’s header separated the sides in Turin, and after losing twice to the Rossoneri in the same season for the first time in over a decade, morale is surely at a new low.
Docked 10 points and dropped down to seventh place, Juve may have been punished for financial indiscretions with a sporting sanction, but they have since been allowed to pay a fine instead of having another points penalty imposed next term.
Allegri has presided over a second straight trophyless season – a far cry from his successful first spell in charge – and if UEFA decide to banish the Old Lady from European competition, then even a return to the Europa League would be ruled out.
Whether the Tuscan tactician will still be in charge for the 2023-24 campaign remains the source of much conjecture, as his tough-to-watch side have already lost 10 times in Serie A and could yet suffer their most league defeats since 2009-10. The omens are not good either, as Juventus have lost their final fixture in three of the last four years.
However, they have won nine of their last 11 league meetings with Udinese, scoring 29 goals in the process. In fact, under Allegri, Juve have lost just one of 13 games against the Fruilani – and none since August 2015.
The stack of stats bearing down on Udinese is indeed substantial, as they have only beaten this week’s visitors once in the teams’ last 12 Serie A matches held in Udine.
That sole success in July 2020 featured a goal from Macedonian striker Ilija Nestorovski, who was on target again last weekend as the Fruilani went down to a 3-2 defeat at Salernitana’s Stadio Arechi, where William Troost-Ekong scored the stoppage-time winner against his former club.
Andrea Sottil’s side have therefore lost their last three games, and they will be determined not to end a once-promising campaign with the club’s worst losing sequence since 2018; that would be the case should they lose to Juventus for a second time this season, following January’s 1-0 defeat in Turin.
Still, with a win, Udinese would reach 49 points – registering their best performance for a decade – and also ensure that they will finish no lower than 12th.
After surging up the standings ahead of the World Cup, a total of 13 draws have stopped the Bianconeri pushing for a top-half finish, but there has been plenty to take pride in during Sottil’s first season in charge at the Dacia Arena.
As Udinese have won their final fixture in four of the last five years, continuing that trend on Sunday would now complete their 2022-23 campaign in style.
Udinese Serie A form:
Juventus Serie A form:
Juventus form (all competitions):
We say: Udinese 1-1 Juventus
Not many teams leave Udine with more than a point, while Juventus are at their most brittle when on the road. As a result, the visitors will finish with a run of no wins in four; summing up a season to quickly forget.