Serie A Matchweek 14 preview: Juventus vs. Fiorentina (Tue - 20:45h. CET) - Team news, lineups

Having stepped up a gear in their pursuit of the Serie A-leading Milan clubs recently, Juventus host faltering Fiorentina on Tuesday evening, aiming to end a tumultuous year on a triumphant note.

The Old Lady's final opponents of 2020 have so far failed to respond to the return of lauded coach Cesare Prandelli as they continue to slip perilously close to the drop zone.

Match preview

In a 4-0 win over Parma at the weekend, Juventus finally managed to put together an entirely convincing victory - over a recently improved side.

Taking a clear step forward compared to Serie A showings so far, Juve pushed aside their propensity for draws - of which they have six from 13 games - to maintain an unbeaten start to the league campaign with help from a Cristiano Ronaldo brace.

The seemingly-ageless Portuguese superstar is the top Serie A scorer of 2020, with 33 league goals during the calendar year - already one more than Robert Lewandowski's Bundesliga total and currently seven in front of last season's capocannoniere, Ciro Immobile. All of which has been achieved from just 28 top flight games.

His latest double demonstrated the ex-Manchester United man's defining ability to brush off even the slightest hint of failure, having missed a crucial penalty in the 1-1 draw with Atalanta last week.

Bianconeri coach Andrea Pirlo has endured a turbulent start to his debut season, but was full of praise for his charges' efforts last week. Highlighting the energetic midfield contributions of Aaron Ramsey and American revelation Weston McKennie, Pirlo also emphasised the collective attitude of his team.

Juve have statistically the best defence in Italy so far (just 10 goals conceded in 13 games) and possession is a priority, with the Old Lady currently averaging above 60% - the highest in Serie A.

Their former midfield maestro demands his side must press high, be aggressive and exert control - tests which were all met at the Tardini - so fearful Fiorentina should beware a side with renewed confidence and vigour, as the champions hunt down what would be an incredible 10th successive Scudetto.

A 1-1 home draw against high-flying Sassuolo last Wednesday, followed by a repeat scoreline in Saturday's encounter with Verona, seems to have subdued criticism of returning head coach Cesare Prandelli and his players - who had previously been sent to a training camp after their disappointing 3-0 defeat to Atalanta.

Former Azzurri boss Prandelli has shuffled his deck substantially of late, picking a 3-5-2 featuring Lorenzo Venuti and Antonio Barreca at wing-back and Giacomo Bonaventura in midfield. Given slightly improved performances, it is likely he will persist with that apparently more resilient shape for the testing trial ahead.

Shoring up a rudderless defence has been Prandelli's priority, though goals have been particularly hard to come by too for a team whose most important attacking weapons - like Franck Ribery, Jose Callejon and Christian Kouame - have been short of form, fitness or both.

As a result, Fiorentina remain winless since Prandelli took the reins for a second time and have also failed to keep a clean sheet since the start of November - hardly ideal preparation for a trip to the in-form champions.

Given their bitter loathing of Juve - stemming from La Viola's final-day loss of the title race in 1981-82 plus a stream of integral players such as Roberto Baggio, Federico Bernardeschi and, most recently, former fans' favourite Federico Chiesa moving to Turin - Fiorentina will dread their return to the Allianz Stadium this week.

At a venue where they were soundly beaten 3-0 last time these clubs met in February, few would bet against similar treatment being meted out by the hosts, whose long-time supremacy in this relationship is a constant thorn in the Viola's side.

Juventus Serie A form: WDWWDW
Juventus form (all competitions): WWWWDW

Fiorentina Serie A form: LLDLDD
Fiorentina form (all competitions): WLDLDD

Team News

Juventus forward Paulo Dybala suffered a muscle strain last week, so Andrea Pirlo might again be without the 'contract rebel' for Tuesday's final game of the year.

The Bianconeri could also be missing Brazil midfielder Arthur, injured against Atalanta, so Adrien Rabiot or Rodrigo Bentancur should instead feature alongside in-form pair Weston McKennie and Aaron Ramsey.

Defender Merih Demiral is unlikely to be risked as he continues his comeback from injury, so Matthijs De Ligt will start again in a Juve back three, with Wojciech Szczesny possibly replacing Gianluigi Buffonbehind them.

Meanwhile, Fiorentina should be near full strength for the trip to Turin. Cesare Prandelli is expected to retain Saturday's cautious 3-5-1-1 setup, with Gaetano Castrovilli being joined by Giacomo Bonaventura and one of Erick Pulgar or Sofyan Amrabat in midfield.

Dusan Vlahovic, who scored a much-disputed penalty at the weekend should keep the lone striking spot, supported by veteran forward Franck Ribery.

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

Fiorentina possible starting lineup:
Dragowski; Milenkovic, Pezzella, Caceres; Barreca, Pulgar, Amrabat, Castrovilli, Venuti; Vlahovic, Ribery

Source: Sports Mole / Jonathan O'Shea 




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