PRE MATCH: JUVENTUS VS BENEVENTO

A clash of two clubs in contrasting league form sees champions Juventus needing a win to keep faint hopes of a tenth successive Scudetto alive, as they meet free-falling Benevento at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday.


Visiting manager Pippo Inzaghi pits his struggling side against one of the clubs where he shone brightest as a player, amid a terrible run of form since the turn of the year, while the hosts must claim victory to stay in touch with the league-leading Milan clubs.


Amid swirling speculation regarding a summer departure for former club Real Madrid last week, Cristiano Ronaldo put relegation-threatened Cagliari to the sword in Sardinia, as Juventus returned to Turin with all three points.


Increasingly impressive in his debut season, despite a testing time for his underperforming new club, winger Federico Chiesa may be charged with leading the generational change next term, should the great man decide to exit.

Of the handful of players with at least seven goals and seven assists across Europe's top five leagues this season, only Manchester United's Marcus Rashford is younger than Chiesa and another assist - his third in the last month and seventh in all - helped Juventus to seal a fourth league win in five.


That run of form has closed the gap to second-placed Milan to only one point, but irrepressible Inter is now a full ten points clear of the Old Lady ahead of the weekend's action.


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 representing one of the best home records in the top flight, and no other side has bettered their tally of just nine goals conceded on home soil.


The Bianconeri have, in fact, won their last seven home contests in Serie A, scoring at least twice on each occasion while letting in just three goals - a formidable prospect for their battling opponents to contemplate.


Outplayed by previously lackluster Fiorentina last weekend, Benevento posted a third loss in four league games and now find themselves perilously close to the trapdoor back to Serie B, from where they emerged as champions just last summer.

When the Streghe earned plaudits and raised eyebrows with a 1-1 draw against Juve at Stadio Ciro Vigorito in November, the newly-promoted side was drawing praise and from analysts and fans alike, as they sat comfortably in mid-table. However, six defeats and six draws have now come during this most testing spell of Inzaghi's otherwise golden reign, plunging Benevento into some serious trouble at the wrong end of the standings.


There is no secret as to why their initial impact on the top flight has foundered, as the Giallorossi has registered just eight goals during their long winless spell, with several strikers losing form at once. In particular, Gianluca Lapadula has hit a drought in front of goal, only managing a solitary strike from his past 20 starts.


With their next fixture after the international break coming at home to lowly Parma, it is games such as that potentially crucial meeting that will surely seal Benevento's fate one way or another, rather than this mismatch against the Serie A royalty of Juventus.


Final Analysis:


Unless the sky starts falling, except for an easy victory. The chances of Benevento ending their long winless run in Turin are slim to none, with even a repeat of their brave home draw against Juventus only a distant possibility due to their ongoing attacking impotence.


Victory is the only option for the Bianconeri, as they seek to cling onto the last vestiges of hope in their pursuit of yet another Scudetto.


Final Prediction: Juventus 4-0 Benevento






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