PRE MATCH: JUVENTUS VS PARMA

Currently at the epicenter of the storm ripping through football's elite, Juventus host relegation-bound Parma on Wednesday, with their top-four place in jeopardy after a costly weekend defeat.


Losing to close rivals, Atalanta, on Sunday served as a prelude to breaking news of their club's central role in the new European Super League, so Juve's players must now focus on matters at hand against Serie A's 19th-placed side.


Having contrived to lose against a club that last tasted league success versus Juventus back in February 2001 at the weekend, coach Andrea Pirlo would justifiably have expected questions about his long-term - and even immediate - future to dominate the Italian sports media on Monday.


However, the Bianconeri's 1-0 defeat to an Atalanta side that subsequently moved above them in the table was all but forgotten when news of their president Andrea Agnelli'sleading a breakaway league for Europe's 'top' clubs emerged.

As one of 12 clubs agreeing to join the posited European Super League, Juve declared that they would also leave the European Club Association, with Agnelli stepping down as the organization's president.


Whatever their future, on-field affairs have been troubled too, as qualification for next season's Champions League - should they ultimately deign to participate - is in real jeopardy, with Napoli and Lazio lurking close behind Pirlo's fourth-placed side.


With the Coppa Italia final still to be played against Atalanta next month, there remains much on the table heading into the run-in, but Juventus have now won just three of their last six league games after crashing out of Europe against Porto.


Back-to-back wins had relieved some of the mounting pressure on rookie coach Pirlo - who recently graded his debut campaign a six out of 10 - after his team previously picked up just a point from fixtures against struggling sides Benevento and Torino.


Staring into the abyss at 3-1 down with more than an hour played on Saturday, Parma's last opponents Cagliari clawed their way back from the brink to steal a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Gialloblu and crush their hopes of a late revival in the quest to avoid demotion.


Failing to turn over an outfit surely destined for Serie B, though, would almost certainly seal the former midfield maestro's fate, as his clubhead into a similarly uncertain future.

Staring into the abyss at 3-1 down with more than an hour played on Saturday, Parma's last opponents Cagliari clawed their way back from the brink to steal a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Gialloblu and crush their hopes of a late revival in the quest to avoid demotion.


With the club's remarkable renaissance now set to be brought to a halt by relegation to the second tier - as the Crociati are 10 points adrift of safety and have played a game more than 17th-placed Torino - they must keep their heads high, faced by a tough-looking fixture list which still features Lazio and Atalanta, after this week's trip to Turin.


Following three seasons at the highest level - after their ascent from the depths of Serie D in 2015 - changes of management, scattergun transfer policy, plus a bloated and unbalanced squad have left them with some of the worst statistics in Serie A.


Returning coach D'Aversa has found no solutions to Parma's troubles at the back, with their tally of 63 goals conceded better only than bottom side Crotone, who have the leakiest rearguard in the top five European leagues. Not only that, but his team has the least effective attack - currently averaging just over a goal per game.


As they were thumped 4-0 by Juventus in their previous meeting, just before Christmas, Parma can only hope that the many distractions surrounding their hosts will prevent a repeat dose at the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday.


Final Analysis:


Parma has leaked seven goals in their two most recent outings, so will hardly be expected to keep Juve's array of attacking stars at bay for a full 90 minutes, even if they are far short of peak form - both individually and collectively.


If Cristiano Ronaldo must sit out another one, with his time at the club potentially coming to a close, Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala can step up to administer an overdue goals-injection to the ailing Old Lady.


Final Prediction: Juventus 3-0 Parma












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