PRE MATCH: CAGLIARI VS JUVENTUS

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.


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 capitalize 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.


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 defense. Not only that, but Juve has won their last seven home matches in Serie A, scoring at least twice on each occasion.


In fact all season, Juventus 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.


Final Analysis:


Cagliari simply does 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.


Final Prediction: Cagliari 0-3 Juventus






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