By 90Min
September 15, 2018

Juventus host Sassuolo in a Serie A clash at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday between the league's top two sides as things stand.

Massimiliano Allegri's side have begun their title defence well following a summer of heavy spending which seemed set to further tighten their grip on Italian football.

Image by Jude Summerfield

Sassuolo, meanwhile, have been the surprise package of Serie A so far after the first three games this season, having won two and drawn one to steal an early and unlikely march to second place, two points behind Sunday's opponents.

Whilst the away side's start to the campaign has been impressive, a trip to the Allianz Stadium to face Allegri's champions provides a different challenge.


Form

Juventus' strong start to the season has been efficient, if unspectacular. A 3-2 opening weekend win away to Chievo Verona owed to an own goal bringing the champions level late in the game, with a Federico Bernardeschi strike in the last minute sealing a late win for Juventus.

Juve then overcame Lazio with a more comfortable 2-0 success in their first home game of the campaign, followed up with a 2-1 win away to Parma before the international break.

The away side arrive into Sunday's game on the back of a thumping 5-3 defeat of Genoa before the international break. That result followed a shock 1-0 opening day victory over Inter Milan, with a 2-2 draw with Cagliari adding to Sassuolo's unbeaten start to the campaign.

Sassuolo's positive start stands them in good stead to provide a strong test for Juventus on Sunday, though their conceding of five goals in their first three games could also be key, with Juventus' plethora of attacking stars primed to take centre stage at the Allianz Stadium.


Previous Encounter

Sassuolo have struggled defensively so far this season and Juventus are the foremost team in Serie A capable of exploiting any defensive deficiencies, as was proven when the sides last met.

Sassuolo arrived at the Allianz Stadium back in February facing a mammoth task to stop the Juventus juggernaut rolling towards another Serie A title. The 7-0 thrashing produced by the home side on the day was emphatic evidence of their supremacy over their opponents.

Gabriele Maltinti/GettyImages

A Gonzalo Higuain hat-trick stole the show and, though the Argentine has now departed Turin, Sassuolo will have the unenviable task of shackling Juve's newest superstar on Sunday as they come up against Cristiano Ronaldo.

The champions made light work of their opponents on Sunday last time out, with a Sami Khedira double and strikes from Alex Sandro and Miralem Pjanic completing the rout.


Key Battle


During Sassuolo's 5-3 win over Genoa, Roberto De Zerbi's side switched to a three at the back system, a more compact and defensively compensated shape which may be deployed once more against Juventus in attempt to content with the home side's attacking stars on Sunday.

In that setup, on loan Las Palmas defender Mauricio Lemos was deployed on the right hand side of the back three, and that same position on Sunday would pit the Uruguayan up against Cristiano Ronaldo on the left hand side of the Juventus attack.

Marco Luzzani/GettyImages

Ronaldo is yet to register a league goal for his new side, but remains undoubtedly Juventus' primary attacking threat, and Lemos must seek to force his Portuguese opponent away from the danger zone by limiting his time and space to cut inside from the left flank and onto his dangerous right foot.

Though Juve's attacking force is comprised of more than Ronaldo alone, Lemos' ability to keep the iconic forward quiet on Sunday could be key to Sassuolo staying in the game.


Team News


Max Allegri has a near-full squad at his disposal for Sunday's game, with only Andrea Barzagli absent through injury. The veteran defender is struggling with a short-term calf problem, but should be fit to return for Juve's Champions League opener against Valencia three days later.

Elsa/International Champions Cup/GettyImages

Sassuolo, meanwhile, also have just one defensive injury to contend with ahead of Sunday's game, with left back Federico Peluso remaining on the sidelines.


Prediction


Though Sassuolo have made an excellent start to their Serie A campaign and Juventus' three victories so far have not been by the most convincing margins, Allegri's side are masters of efficiency in finding a way to seal a result.With the fresh impetus of superstar summer signings.


Juve can turn on the style at will and produce devastating attacking displays, and the champions are primed to overpower their opponents on Sunday.


Prediction: Juventus 4-1 Sassuolo

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