Sampdoria vs Juventus
Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genoa
Wednesday, 18-12-2019 @8:30pm
Ref: Gianluca Rocchi
Juventus caught Inter at the top of the table, but face a tricky trip to Claudio Ranieri’s hard-to-beat Sampdoria ahead of the Italian Super Cup.
This fixture is being played on Wednesday evening because the Bianconeri will face Lazio in Riyadh on Sunday for the Supercoppa, which is between Scudetto holders and Coppa Italia winners.
Juve got back on track after one point from two rounds by flattening Udinese 3-1, thanks largely to for the first time this season starting the trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala together. Maurizio Sarri has been coy on whether he’ll do the same at Marassi, but considering the reasoning he gave – they were up against a defensive team that doesn’t focus on possession and largely by-passes the midfield with long balls – it wouldn’t be surprising if he did.
Rodrigo Bentancur is suspended, with Wojciech Szczesny, Sami Khedira and Giorgio Chiellini injured, but Miralem Pjanic and Juan Cuadrado return from their bans. Matthijs de Ligt should also be back after he was rested in favour of Merih Demiral.
Szczesny’s injury means Gianluigi Buffon will play and match Paolo Maldini’s all-time record of 647 Serie A appearances. He’ll also become the sole most present Juventus player in the top flight, leaving Alessandro Del Piero behind to reach 479.
Sampdoria have solidified defensively since Claudio Ranieri took over from Eusebio Di Francesco in October and used that to good effect in their 1-0 Derby della Lanterna victory over rivals Genoa. Manolo Gabbiadini came off the bench to score the only goal of the game, making him their top scorer for the season on four. It’s likely he will get back into the starting XI with former Juve striker Fabio Quagliarella, supported by Gaston Ramirez.
Ronaldo Vieira is suspended in midfield, with Bartosz Bereszynski, Albin Ekdal, Andrea Bertolacci, Federico Bonazzoli and Edgar Barreto injured. Jakub Jankto is expected to step into Vieira’s boots.
Samp have won the last two editions of this fixture, 3-2 in November 2017 and 2-0 in May 2019. Only once have Juve lost three Serie A trips in a row to Sampdoria, as there was a run of five straight defeats from 1955 to 1959.
Brescia vs Sassuolo
Stadio Mario Rigamonti, Brescia
Wednesday, 18-12-2019 @10:245pm
Ref: Marco Di Bello
Brescia are hoping to jump out of the drop zone in their game in hand. Brescia have lost 10 of their 15 games this season. The hosts have lost 6 of their last 8 matches. Sassuolo are on a 4 game unbeaten run on the road.
Brescia are aiming to build on some good form when they clash with Sassuolo this week. The hosts are on a two-game winning run, which counts for 50% of their victories this term. That points to their bounce and their deeper issues, which has left the club in the bottom three in their return to Serie A this term.
However, the hosts have moved within two points of safety and they’re aiming to continue that form here. They have had a game in hand for most of the campaign after this clash was delayed in October. Now the hosts have a major opportunity to leap out of the bottom three, but Sassuolo won’t just roll over here.
Since gaining promotion to Serie A, things have been tough for Brescia. The club have lost 10 of 15 games so far this season, with five defeats in seven matches at their own ground. It isn’t what they expected when Mario Balotelli joined a squad containing the highly rated Sandro Tonali. Instead, they’ve been left fighting against the drop all season.
Their victory over Lecce at the weekend was their first home win of the season. Before that, Atalanta rolled over them 3-0, with the Brescia players even struggling to perform in that derby clash. Their lack of fight has to be a worry, so if things start going against them again we could see the hosts struggle to perform this week.