Cagliari - Juventus Preview: Serie A leaders look to keep slender lead in Scudetto race
With two games left to go in Serie A, Antonio Conte's men need a win in their last away fixture of the season to fend off advances for the top spot from reigning champions Milan
By Julian De Martinis
Perico, Astori, Canini, Pisano
Ekdal, Conti, Nainggolan
Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini
Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Giaccherini
The match unquestionably means more for Juventus than Cagliari; the home side are almost certain to end the season comfortably mid-table, being six points away from relegation and 14 from the final European spot in Serie A.
The Old Lady, on the other hand, are just a point above Milan following their draw to Lecce and need full points in order to assure their hold at the summit of the league.
Massimo Ficcadenti's men will look to bounce back to winning ways after a 2-1 loss to Genoa during midweek. The 14th-placed side will likely make a few changes from their defeat, with Alessandro Agostini suspended and Daniele Dessena a doubt for the match.
Up front, either Thiago Ribeiro or Ibarbo will start alongside team top goalscorer Mauricio Pinilla. The midfield quartet is set to stay the same as usual whereas the backline is also expected to look vastly familiar.
The visitors have lost Paolo De Ceglie for the rest of the season with a thigh problem and Simone Pepe is also likely to miss the match through injury. The biggest question mark for Antonio Conte's men revolves around who will partner Mirko Vucinic up front, with Marco Borriello and Alessandro Matri in contention to lead the front-line.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Cagliari have just one win in their last six matches, a 3-0 drubbing of Catania at home. During that span, the side have lost three times and acquired just five points.
- Pinilla, Cagliari's top scorer this season, has scored 10 goals this season, as many as Juventus' Alessandro Matri, AC Milan's Antonio Nocerino, and Bologna's Marco Di Vaio.
- The home side have had trouble netting this season; only four sides have notched fewer than Rossoblu's 44 strikes in 36 matches.
- Juventus can stretch their remarkable unbeaten run to 37 games this season should they avoid defeat against Cagliari.
- No side in Serie A has conceded fewer than the visitor's 8 goals during their travels this season.
- Juve are also tied for third most prolific team on the road in the current league campaign, having scored 26 goals in 18 away matches.
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Top 3 Predictions
Cagliari 0-2 Juventus
- 26.37 %
Cagliari 0-3 Juventus
- 16.81 %
Cagliari 1-1 Juventus
- 8.11 %
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||May 11, 2013||Juventus 1 - Cagliari 1|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Dec 21, 2012||Cagliari 1 - Juventus 3|
|Italy - Coppa Italia (ITAC)||Dec 12, 2012||Juventus 1 - Cagliari 0|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||May 6, 2012||Cagliari 0 - Juventus 2|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Jan 15, 2012||Juventus 1 - Cagliari 1|
|Dec 8, 2013||Cagliari 2 - Genoa 1||ITA1|
|Dec 1, 2013||Cagliari 2 - Sassuolo 2||ITA1|
|Nov 25, 2013||Roma 0 - Cagliari 0||ITA1|
|Nov 10, 2013||Cagliari 2 - Torino 1||ITA1|
|Nov 3, 2013||Hellas Verona 2 - Cagliari 1||ITA1|
|-||Alessandro Del Piero||Striker|
Defensive nous will be the key to the home side taking points away from the match with Conte's men needing to attack throughout the match. Highly rated centre-back Davide Astori thus will need to be at his best in order to provide the most unlikely of upsets.
Though he's blown hot and cold this season, this spring has been somewhat of a revival for Mirko Vucinic. The former Roma striker has traditionally relished scoring in big games, which is exactly what this match has become if Juventus want to keep up hopes of a Scudetto.
Though Cagliari are a very respectable team this season despite their table position, Juventus simply have too much momentum, power, and purpose heading into the match to go away with anything but a win.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed