MX23RW : Saturday, September 18 13:37:31| >> :600:16379323:16379323:
Mar 14, 2021 at 5pm UK at Stadio Sant'Elia
CagliariCagliari
1-3
JuventusJuventus
Simeone (61')
FT(HT: 0-3)
Ronaldo (10', 25' pen., 32')
Ronaldo (14'), Cuadrado (18')

Preview: Cagliari vs. Juventus - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Serie A clash between Cagliari and Juventus, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

In a week when they crashed out of the Champions League, under-performing Juventus must immediately bounce back at relegation battlers Cagliari on Sunday, if they wish to retain any faint hope of retaining the Scudetto this season.

It may not be a straightforward task either, as their Sardinian hosts have won two of their first three games with new manager Leonardo Semplici at the helm and are in need of points to keep their heads above water in the fight for Serie A survival.


Match preview

Danilo in action for Juventus in February 2021© Reuters

Drawing stinging criticism from across the Italian sports media and such luminaries as esteemed tactical masterminds Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello, Juventus not only went out of Europe on away goals to Porto in midweek, but also failed to capitalise on Mehdi Taremi's dismissal before the hour mark - with what ultimately turned out to be a further hour still to play, including extra time.

The repercussions of the Serie A champions' failure will posit both psychological and physical problems to resolve in sharp order for rookie coach Andrea Pirlo. With former Milan and Italy coach Sacchi labelling Pirlo's team as "lacking in intensity, organisation and motivation," there is much work for them to do in order to rescue a frustrating campaign.

Having benefited from a rare rest during the first hour of Juve's clinical 3-1 win over Lazio last Saturday - which suggested that things were set fair for their upcoming European engagement - top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo also received rare criticism for turning his back in the defensive wall at a free-kick, leading directly to Porto scoring.

Owing to rookie coach Pirlo's experimental and sometimes indecipherable approach, the Bianconeri are still searching for consistency, but had nonetheless conceded only six goals in their previous thirteen games in all competitions before imploding on Tuesday - despite a long-running injury crisis in defence. Not only that, but Juve have won their last seven home matches in Serie A, scoring at least twice on each occasion.

In fact, all season long, Juventus have proved a tough proposition in Turin, with ten wins and two draws from 13 league contests at the Allianz Stadium proving the best home record on the peninsula. On the road, however, they have only the fifth-best points tally in the top flight - with some 14 points fewer than Milan away from home.

Juve have, though, won eight of their last nine league matches against Cagliari either home or away, keeping seven clean sheets in that spell of dominance. They have also restricted the Isolani to just three goals in nine matches since their return to the elite level in 2016 - though two of those were in a rare 2-0 win for the hosts at the Sardegna Arena last season.

Radja Nainggolan celebrates after scoring for Cagliari against Inter Milan in January 2020© Reuters

Finally making a significant impact after his much-hyped return to the club, Radja Nainggolan snatched a 2-2 draw for Cagliari with the last kick of the game against Sampdoria last time out, taking his side two points above the Serie A drop zone and preserving their new manager's unbeaten record since taking charge.

The Isolani's hopes of salvation have received a major boost in the past fortnight, as they secured successive league wins for the first time since the season's opening weeks - with a victory over basement club Crotone and then a win at home to Bologna being followed by that rescued point at the Marassi.

Recently installed head coach Leonardo Semplici has had an instant impact on the team's fortunes since replacing Eusebio Di Francesco last month and has even described his excellent start to life in the Cagliari dugout as "unthinkable".

However, their current streak is to be put to the test on Sunday, as the reigning champions visit Sardinia, where the hosts have already suffered seven defeats so far. In fact, coming off a long barren spell under Di Francesco, they have gleaned only four points from their last five matches on home soil. Furthermore, in games played on the island, Cagliari have scored at a rate of less than one per game.

The only shining light in the Rossoblu attack this term has been the dependable Brazilian forward Joao Pedro, who has scored at more than 12 goals (13 in all) at this stage of a Serie A campaign for the second season in a row. Having scored the early opener last weekend, it will surely take some magical interventions from the former Palermo forward to topple even a tottering Juventus this time out.

Cagliari Serie A form:
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D

Juventus Serie A form:
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W

Juventus form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W


Team News

Rodrigo Bentancur pictured in December 2018© Reuters

Midfield mainstay Rodrigo Bentancur remains out of commission for Juventus, as he observes COVID-19 quarantine protocols following a positive test last week, while forward Paulo Dybala is not expected to make his return from injury until later this month.

Often impressive in his appearances as cover for various defensive absences, young centre-back Merih Demiral will miss in the region of three weeks with a thigh strain, so Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci could team up in the centre of Andrea Pirlo's defence. There is some speculation, however, that the Bianconeri boss will shift to a back three, with the versatile Danilo moving inside.

If they do play a variation of 3-5-2, then Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi would be favourites to start at wing-back, with Weston McKennie coming into a midfield three.

The home side's Charalampos Lykogiannis and Leonardo Pavoletti are both unavailable this week due to suspensions for accumulating bookings, while Riccardo Sottil - returning from a thigh strain - defender Sebastian Walukiewicz and midfielder Marko Rog are all injury doubts.

Likely to continue with the 3-4-1-2 that has served his side so well in his first few games in charge, Cagliari coach Leonardo Semplici will most probably replace wing-back Lykogiannis and central striker Pavoletti with Gabriele Zappa and struggling striker Giovanni Simeone respectively.

On-loan Daniele Rugani is eligible, so is set to start in the centre of defence against his parent club.

Cagliari possible starting lineup:
Cragno; Ceppitelli, Godin, Rugani; Zappa, Marin, Nainggolan, Duncan, Nandez; Pedro, Simeone

Juventus possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; De Ligt, Bonucci, Danilo; Chiesa, Arthur, Rabiot, McKennie, Bernardeschi; Ronaldo, Morata


SM words green background

We say: Cagliari 0-1 Juventus

Cagliari simply do not pose enough of an attacking threat to take advantage of the champions' current wobbles, with their woeful home form a factor too.

As Leonardo Semplici's unbeaten start inevitably comes to an end, a slither of pressure will be taken off the heavily-burdened shoulders of his younger counterpart, Andrea Pirlo, who simply must do all within his power to save both his side's season and his own job between now and May.


Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Away Win:data


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How you voted: Cagliari vs Juventus

Cagliari
4.7%
Draw
10.2%
Juventus
85.2%
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