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Italian Serie A - Match Prediction: Juventus VS Genoa
Match Time：4/11/2021 21:00 Sunday (GMT+8)
Italian Serie A -- Juventus VS Genoa
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Despite a morale-boosting win in midweek, third-placed Juventus cannot reasonably defend the Scudetto, but must continue the hard-fought battle for a Champions League place against Genoa on Sunday.
Though the hosts have accepted that they will relinquish their crown after a nine-year spell of Serie A dominance, they remain just three points clear of Napoli in fifth and will seek maximum points against a Rossoblu side still to secure safety.
On Wednesday, Juventus defeated old foes Napoli 2-1 in their much-delayed clash at the Allianz Stadium, to climb into third place ahead of the weekend's action - just one point behind Milan in second.
Top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo fired the Bianconeri ahead against the Neapolitan side, before Paulo Dybala marked his return from injury and subsequent off-field controversy with a superb curled finish.
Though the win may have relieved some of the mounting pressure on head coach Andrea Pirlo - after having previously picked up only a solitary point from games against struggling Benevento and subordinate city rivals Torino - outgoing champions Juve remain 12 points behind leaders Inter with nine games to go, and their prospects of claiming a 10th successive title have vanished into the distance.
Following the game - before which speculation circulated that he would be sacked if his team suffered a loss that would threaten their chances of a top-four finish - Pirlo made the rare admission that he has made several errors in his debut season in the dugout.
Having promised to learn from his mistakes, the former midfield maestro must now lead his men into an eminently winnable fixture against mid-table Genoa, who appear set for a relatively comfortable climax to a once-troubled campaign.
Ahead of the game, Juventus have won their last three league encounters with the Ligurian outfit and, in home games against them, have lost just twice in 53 past meetings at the top level.
However, as well as their indiscipline - they have had more men sent off than any other side - among the established top seven in the Serie A standings, Juve have gained the fewest points against teams currently in the bottom half of the table.
Undoubtedly, that ongoing weakness against the also-rans has proved the difference between potentially fighting for the title and now scrapping it out for a top-four place.
After Genoa ended a run of six games without a win when coming from behind to beat relegation-threatened Parma just before the international break, head coach Davide Ballardini declared the point subsequently secured from a 1-1 draw with ten-man Fiorentina last week of "extraordinary importance" for his side.
With top scorer Mattia Destro making it back onto the scoresheet after a two-month lull - benefiting from an assist by in-form strike partner Gianluca Scamacca - four points from a possible six has lifted the Rossoblu to 13th in the table - a full 10 points clear of 18th-placed Cagliari in the drop zone.
Following his 10th strike of the season, former Roma forward Destro has now reached double figures with four different clubs in Serie A, having previously achieved the feat with Siena, Bologna and the Giallorossi. His goals have helped Ballardini claw the club away from the foot of the table after a difficult start, but they must now face Juventus and Milan in successive fixtures, with survival still to be assured.
Only troubled Torino have drawn more Serie A matches than Genoa's 11 this season - in fact, they have shared the spoils in five of their last eight league games - but the Ligurians would gladly take another point from Sunday's challenging clash with Pirlo's side.
Juventus Serie A form: WWWLDW
Juventus form (all competitions): WWWLDW
Genoa Serie A form: LDLDWD
Both Leonardo Bonucci and Federico Bernardeschi are among several Italy internationals currently observing COVID-19 protocols, so are expected to be absent again for Juventus, though Turkish defender Merih Demiral has been cleared to return on Sunday.
With an otherwise fit squad at his disposal, coach Andrea Pirlo has some intriguing selection dilemmas to resolve, as Paulo Dybala scored a vital goal in midweek and will compete with Alvaro Morata for a start in attack, while veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon drew praise for his performance in the win over Napoli and hopes to keep his place ahead of first choice Wojciech Szczesny.
Alongside Dybala, COVID regulation-breakers Arthur and Weston McKennie returned to the bench on Wednesday, with the American midfielder now in contention to start if Juan Cuadrado shifts back to his more accustomed role in Pirlo's flexible back four.
In-form Federico Chiesa continues out wide, with current Capocannoniere leader Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line once again.
Genoa defender Domenico Criscito is set to play his 250th game for the club in all competitions, having made his first eight Serie A appearences for Juventus back in 2007.
The visitors' midfield will be weakened, though, by the absence of Dutch international Kevin Strootman, who must serve a suspension, while Luca Pellegrini is out with a thigh strain.
Lennart Czyborra suffered a minor injury in training this week and his fitness will be assessed ahead of kickoff, so some of those rested last week after fulfilling international duties are set for a return to the XI.
As veteran forward Goran Pandev remains doubtful, Gianluca Scamacca and Mattia Destro should continue as the front pairing, but Marko Pjaca and Miha Zajc are now in contention to feature from the start.
Juventus possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; Cuadrado, De Ligt, Chiellini, Danilo; McKennie, Bentancur, Rabiot, Chiesa; Ronaldo, Morata
Genoa possible starting lineup:
Perin; Masiello, Radovanovic, Criscito; Biraschi, Behrami, Badelj, Zajc, Zappacosta; Scamacca, Destro
Juventus VS Genoa
Juventus 3-1 Genoa
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