Boasting a club record 13-game win streak, Juventus venture south this weekend, taking on Frosinone in much better shape than when the two met earlier in the season. That previous fixture came in September, with the Bianconeri languishing in the bottom half of the table and struggling for results.
Indeed, their opponents—who were still celebrating their first-ever promotion to Serie A—piled on the misery, netting a late equaliser and taking home a valuable point. It continued Juve’s poor start to the season, but the Canarini are now the ones who look to be in very real trouble.
Currently occupying 19th place in the standings, they ended a run of eight games without a win as they notched a narrow midweek victory over Bologna. It was an impressive result for a side that coach Roberto Stellone recently admitted to Mediaset Premium (h/t Forza Italian Football) was "going through a tough period" and "lacking in morale."
Yet Juventus themselves are feeling extremely positive, and it has been a group effort as boss Massimiliano Allegri has been able to rest and rotate his squad in order to remain competitive in three different competitions.
"Since we’ve embarked on this run, everyone is doing their part to help keep it going," defender Andrea Barzagli told JTV, per the club’s official website. "You can see that from each single victory we’ve attained. We need to make sure we continue in this way."
They will certainly look to do so as they take on Frosinone, keeping the pressure on league leaders Napoli as the 2015/16 Serie A title battle looks almost certain to go the full distance.
Date: Sunday, February 7, 2016
Time: 2 p.m. GMT/9 a.m. ET
Venue: Stadio Comunale Matusa, Frosinone
TV Info: BT Sport 2 (UK)
Live Stream: BT Connect (UK)
Last five domestic results:
|Frosinone 1-5 Napoli||Sampdoria 1-2 Juventus|
|Torino 4-2 Frosinone||Udinese 0-4 Juventus|
|Frosinone 0-0 Atalanta||Juventus 1-0 AS Roma|
|AS Roma 3-1 Frosinone||Chievo 0-4 Juventus|
|Frosinone 1-0 Bologna||Juventus 1-0 Genoa|
Frosinone: (4-3-3): Nicola Leali; Matteo Ciofani, Leonardo Blanchard, Adriano Russo, Roberto Crivello; Mirko Gori, Raman Chibsah, Paolo Sammarco; Aleksandar Tonev, Daniel Ciofani, Federico Dionisi
Unavailable: Arlind Ajeti, Daniel Pavlovic (both injured)
Juventus (3-5-2): Gigi Buffon; Daniele Rugani, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Simone Padoin, Hernanes, Paul Pogba, Alex Sandro; Alvaro Morata, Paulo Dybala
Unavailable: Sami Khedira, Mario Mandzukic, Kwadwo Asamoah, Martin Caceres and Rubinho (all injured)
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Juventus will certainly want to avoid a repeat of their last meeting with Frosinone and as a result are likely to pay extremely close attention to Leonardo Blanchard. The defender was the man whose goal secured the club’s first-ever point in the top flight, heading home a late equaliser in Turin.
That he grew up a fan of the Bianconeri made the moment even sweeter for the 27-year-old, as he explained shortly afterwards to this writer in an interview with the Independent: "It was hugely emotional," he said, going on to add that "scoring against my favourite team is a great honour."
Blanchard also netted a spectacular goal against Genoa and is a solid performer in defence, meaning his display could well prove crucial for the relegation-threatened minnows here, just as he has been since joining the club back in 2012.
At the time, Frosinone were in the third tier of Italian football, but the player believes their rise has also benefited him greatly along the way, particularly working with coach Stellone. "In terms of professional growth, these last three years with him have been the most important in my life," he continued in that aforementioned interview, and Sunday will be yet another test for him.
If Blanchard is to enjoy success, he will need to perform to the highest possible standard against the Juventus attack, but the home side will be buoyed by the lack of options available to Signor Allegri.
Indeed, with Mario Mandzukic still sidelined through injury and Simone Zaza suspended, the coach’s only option is to once again pair Alvaro Morata and Paolo Dybala. Stopping them will be no easy task for the Frosinone defence, however, the duo having been in incredible form over the past few weeks.
As the above tweet shows, Dybala was named Juve’s player of the month for January after weighing in with five goals and five assists across his seven appearances for the Bianconeri covered by the award.
His Spanish team-mate has suddenly rounded into form, too, netting four goals in a week to end a scoring drought that stretched back to an October 4 outing against Bologna. The two men will hope to score early and kill off Frosinone’s hopes, in turn allowing them to get some much-needed rest before next week’s meeting with Napoli.
Odds (via Odds Shark)
Away win: 20-69
Home win: 423-50