Having lost in their previous outing, newly crowned champions Juventus will look to end their 2015/16 Serie A campaign on a high note, welcoming Sampdoria to Turin for the final league match of the season for both teams.
The Bianconeri delivered an abject display in that 2-1 defeat away to Hellas Verona on Sunday, giving them cause for alarm ahead of the Coppa Italia final on May 21. While Massimiliano Allegri was missing a number of key players for that game, the coach was clearly unimpressed with the fallout, as discussed in detail in this previous post.
“A slip-up is only valuable if it makes the team learn from its mistakes,” Allegri told Mediaset Premium (h/t Football Italia). “Maybe we celebrated too much. Enough celebrating now. We’ve got to get our heads in the game, otherwise we risk going into the final without the right attitude.”
That makes this next match vital for Juventus, and their opponents arrive after some hugely disappointing results of their own. Sunday saw Sampdoria embarrassed by cross-town rivals Genoa, losing 3-0 to mark their first derby defeat since September 2013 and increase the pressure on coach Vincenzo Montella.
The Blucerchiati have won just one of their last five matches, falling to 15th in the Serie A table and prompting director of sport Carlo Osti to blast their poor form in an interview with Mediaset Premium (h/t Football Italia) shortly after the Genoa clash:
The fans were absolutely right to protest. The club apologises to the supporters for a game that was not up to Samp standards. This is a very ugly page of our failed season. The club did everything it could and there was nothing more we could do. The results were not visible and with cool heads we will evaluate the situation.
With both teams looking to sign off in style, an otherwise meaningless game suddenly has far more significance than expected. Sampdoria will be further hindered after it was revealed Antonio Cassano has caused more problems behind the scenes.
According to Gazzetta World, the striker "reportedly got into a verbal row with Antonio Romei, the right-hand man of president Massimo Ferrero." It was said that led to Cassano's sacking, only for him to train as normal on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Whether the former AS Roma and Real Madrid striker takes to the field at Juventus Stadium remains to be seen, but the Bianconeri will hope to simply take all three points ahead of the Coppa Italia final.
Date: Saturday, May 14, 2016
Time: 4 p.m. BST/11 a.m. ET
Venue: Juventus Stadium, Turin
TV Info: ESPN (UK) beIN Sports 1 (U.S.)
Live Stream: BT Connect (UK)
Last five domestic results:
|Juventus 4-0 Palmero||Sampdoria 0-1 AC Milan|
|Juventus 3-0 Lazio||Sassuolo 0-0 Sampdoria|
|Fiorentina 1-2 Juventus||Sampdoria 2-1 Lazio|
|Juventus 2-0 Carpi||Palermo 2-0 Sampdoria|
|Hellas Verona 2-1 Juventus||Sampdoria 0-3 Genoa|
Juventus (3-5-2): Neto; Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Stefano Sturaro, Hernanes, Paul Pogba, Patrice Evra; Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala.
Unavailable: Sami Khedira, Martin Caceres and Claudio Marchisio (all injured) and Alex Sandro (suspended).
Sampdoria: (3-5-2): Emiliano Viviano; Modibo Diakite, Matias Silvestre, Mattia Cassani; Lorenzo De Silvestri, Roberto Soriano, Fernando, Edgar Barreto, Dodo; Luis Muriel, Fabio Quagliarella.
Unavailable: Carlos Carbonero and Niklas Moisander (both injured).
Perhaps the key clash in this encounter is set to be how Fabio Quagliarella fares against his former team-mates. The striker—who joined Sampdoria on loan from Torino back in January—spent four years playing for Bianconeri, winning three league titles along the way before departing in 2014.
The 33-year-old scored 30 goals in 101 appearances for Juventus and is likely to go head-to-head with Giorgio Chiellini on Saturday afternoon. The Italy defender is set to return to Allegri’s starting XI after featuring just twice since late February because of a number of various injuries.
This match will surely determine whether he features against AC Milan in the Coppa Italia final, with the trio of Daniele Rugani, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli performing well in his absence.
According to WhoScored.com statistics, Chiellini has recorded an average of 1.6 tackles, 2.5 interceptions and 3.7 clearances in his 32 appearances this term. He will be looking to make a good impression here.
Player to Watch
While the battle between Quagliarella and Chiellini rages in front of him, it will be interesting to monitor how Brazilian goalkeeper Neto performs against Sampdoria at Juventus Stadium on Saturday.
Having been deployed by Allegri in Juve’s domestic cup fixtures this term, Gigi Buffon is expected to sit out of this match in order for his deputy to prepare for the following week's showpiece event in Rome.
Arriving last summer from Fiorentina, Neto is widely respected but has not yet delivered his best for the Bianconeri. Indeed, while he has kept three clean sheets in his six appearances for the club, the 26-year-old has conceded five goals in his last two outings and will certainly hope to improve that record here.
There have been various reports—including this one from La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Football Italia)—linking Juventus with a replacement, such as Salvatore Sirigu of Paris Saint-Germain, ahead of 2016/17. But with good displays in his next two outings, Neto could prove he is the right man for the Old Lady.
Odds (per Odds Shark)