Juventus vs Sampdoria – Preview
Both sides will be eager to make up for last week’s embarrassments, as Juventus hold their Scudetto party after losing to Verona and Sampdoria suffered derby humiliation.
It seems only yesterday Juve were languishing in mid table after a horrific start to the season. Roma and Napoli fans were rejoicing that the Old Lady had become a spent force and a genuine shot at the Scudetto awaited. If it wasn’t for a late Paul Pogba wonder goal in the Derby Della Mole back in October, that may have been the case after the dramatic win was described as the turning point by Leonardo Bonucci. It was followed by 24 wins in 25 rounds followed, the Giallorossi and Partenopei simply couldn’t keep up.
A Luca Toni inspired Verona claimed all three points against Juve last week despite being relegated, proving anything can happen in the penultimate weeks of the Italian top flight.
As Max Allegri’s side were toasting their title win, Sampdoria were confirming their status as a Serie A club for the 2016-17 season. The brilliance of Vincenzo Montella may have taken a month or two to show, but the rubble Walter Zenga left behind has been well and truly cleared.
Despite a recent run of poor form including last week’s 3-0 humiliation to rivals Genoa, if it had not been for the former Fiorentina Coach the Blucerchiati would have been a certainty to follow Verona down.
A win against Juve could convince stars Fernando and Roberto Soriano to stay if Eder’s struggles at Inter have not been enough to cast doubt on leaving, but a full strength Bianconeri will be looking to end on a high after last week’s disappointing result.
Expect Allegri to rotate and give way to those preparing for grueling European Championship training camps. However the 3-5-2 shape is likely to remain, Norberto Neto will start in goal and be protected by a back three consisting of Daniele Rugani, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, the latter testing his fitness levels after a long lay-off
Mario Mandzukic could be out to save his Juventus career after a stop start season and can partner top scorer Paulo Dybala up front. Despite this game having no bearing on their season, expect Juve to try and end the game early with an attacking start.
Despite becoming a Serie A yo-yo club, Samp remain one of the few teams to win at the Juventus Stadium. Vincenzo Montella has become a fellow disciple of the 3-5-2 and will attempt to mirror the club that made it famous again. Former Bianconero Fabio Quagliarella will lead the line, but will Antonio Cassano feature after a locker room bust-up and reports his contract had been terminated?
Expect Sampdoria to sit back and attempt to pick Juve off on the counter.
Keep an eye on: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus) – The big Croat has many critics to prove wrong after several horrendous displays in a Juve shirt. Euro 2016 is merely weeks away and a less than stellar 2014-15 season with Atletico Madrid means the former Bayern Munich striker may need to take a step down if Allegri deems him surplus. With rumors of Edinson Cavani refusing to vanish, Mandzukic should need little else for inspiration.
Form Guide: Juventus (L W W W W W) Sampdoria (L L W D L)
Stat fact: Samp’s last win against Juventus came in May 2013, followed by a draw and four defeats, home and away. The most recent victory in Turin was 2-1 in January 2013 and they drew here 1-1 last term.
Juventus (probable): Buffon; Rugani, Chiellini, Bonucci; Lichtsteiner, Sturaro, Pogba, Hernanes, Evra; Mandzukic, Dybala
Suspended: Alex Sandro
Sampdoria (probable): Viviano; Diakite, Silvestre, Cassani; De Silvestre, Soriano, Krsticic, Barreto, Dodo; Muriel, Quagliarella
Words: Samuel Bridges