Juventus round off their tumultuous 2021 with a home game against Cagliari on Tuesday night. The Bianconeri claimed an imperative victory at the weekend as they beat Bologna 2-0 in a misty Emilia-Romagna on Saturday evening.
Strikes from Alvaro Morata and Juan Cuadrado thrust Juve to all three points, although Fiorentina’s fightback against Sassuolo and AS Roma’s thumping of Atalanta means Massimiliano Allegri’s side remain seventh in Serie A as we approach the halfway mark in the 2021/22 campaign.
Allegri is set to have the same players available to him for Tuesday as he did for the trip to Bologna. That means Federico Chiesa, Danilo, Aaron Ramsey, Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini are all unavailable. Although, others including Dejan Kulusevski and Manuel Locatelli should now be fit enough for starts after both earned minutes off the bench at the weekend.
The absence of key personnel combined with the likely changes Allegri will make for the game against Cagliari means it’s difficult to predict what the manager will opt for. We’ve seen the master pragmatist utilise an array of systems and configurations already this term, and it’s a bit of a lottery trying to predict what he’ll go with on Tuesday.
Nevertheless, here’s our predicted XI for Juventus’ final game of 2021 as Cagliari visit Turin.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Wojciech Szczesny (GK) – Szczesny was back among the clean sheets on Saturday as the Juventus defence ensured he rarely had to exert himself. The Polish international is expected to continue between the sticks on Tuesday night.
Mattia De Sciglio (RB) – De Sciglio wasn’t deemed fit enough to earn any minutes last time out, but he did make the matchday squad. Allegri confirmed that he’ll be assessed ahead of this one and we think he could be given a run out from the start.
Leonardo Bonucci (CB) – The stand-in skipper was solid once more at the weekend and Chiellini’s absence means he partner Matthijs de Ligt on Tuesday.
Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – De Ligt was quite brilliant on Saturday evening and there’s no doubting he’ll retain his place in the XI. Allegri lauded his talent in his pre-match presser.
Alex Sandro (LB) – Thankfully, there are no concerns over the calf injury Luca Pellegrini picked up last time out. The young Italian might be in contention for the 2021 finale, but we think Allegri will play it safe and return Alex Sandro to the XI.
Dejan Kulusevski (RM) – Allegri hinted that Kulusevski could start on Tuesday. The Swede returned after a short spell out at Bologna with a cameo off the bench and it appears that he’ll be fit enough for a start on Tuesday.
Weston McKennie (CM) – McKennie produced a bright performance on his return to action in Saturday’s win. On that occasion, he performed a box-to-box function in a 4-3-3. This time, we think Allegri might return to the 4-4-2 with McKennie playing as the more adventurous member of the double pivot.
Manuel Locatelli (CM) – Partnering McKennie will likely be Locatelli. The Italian was only fit enough for the bench last time out following a bout with gastroenteritis in the week. However, the elegant midfielder earned 30 minutes off the bench which suggests he’ll be fit enough to return to the starting XI against Cagliari.
Federico Bernardeschi (LM) – Allegri could give Bernardeschi a rest to conclude 2021. The 27-year-old has started Juventus’ last five outings, although the faith the manager has shown in him has been repaid by the Italian. Bernardeschi has three assists in his last four while performing various functions. This time, he could return to the hybrid function in Allegri’s 4-4-2.
Moise Kean (ST) – Kean struggled out on the left-wing against Bologna but Allegri said he was “satisfied” with the forward’s performance, adding that he “should play” on Tuesday. However, we expect Kean to play alongside Alvaro Morata in a front two. The pair have rarely played together this season.
Alvaro Morata (ST) – Morata’s improving form continued at the weekend as he smartly netted Juventus’ opener following a wonderful Bernardeschi pass. The Spaniard has scored three in his last four Serie A outings and there’s a great opportunity for the striker to continue his fine end to 2021 against Cagliari.