Udinese VS Juventus - Italian Serie A, Match Picks

Match Time:5/2/2021 23:59 Sunday  (GMT+8)

Italian Serie A --  Udinese   VS   Juventus

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After another underwhelming result last weekend, outgoing champions Juventus meet Udinese on Sunday, with their top-four place still in serious jeopardy. While the Bianconeri are bound for a nail-biting climax to the Serie A season - but with only Champions League qualification at stake, rather than their defence of the Scudetto - the hosts are close to confirming their survival in the top flight: sitting eight points above the drop zone.


Match preview
Under-presure coach Andrea Pirlo admitted that his inconsistent Juventus side put in another sub-par performance in their draw at lowly Fiorentina last weekend, as they again disappointed on their travels. Though Alvaro Morata scored a second-half equaliser less than a minute after coming off the bench at Stadio Artemio Franchi, that was Juve's only shot on target in a game where they bossed the ball, but to little effect. As Pirlo's future remains deeply uncertain, everything now rests on the Turin giants' qualification for next season's Champions League - an absolute minimum requirement which his team must fulfil. Recent results, though, have left third-placed Juventus locked on 66 points with Napoli and Milan going into the weekend's action, while Lazio continue to lurk close behind. The Coppa Italia finalists, who face Atalanta in the showpiece final - due to host a limited number of fans, it has been confirmed - have now won just three of their last seven league games after crashing out of the Champions League and are in danger of receiving a swift comeuppance, given the club president's apparent derision for Europe's elite competition.  Of late, the Bianconeri have toiled somewhat in the final third, as top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo's rare failure to hit the net in his last three starts (the last time he missed out four times in a row was back in 2017) has come amid rumours of a summer departure - and the absence of bright spark Federico Chiesa from the attack has further undermined their cause. Nevertheless, Juventus have won six of their last seven Serie A games against Udinese ahead of their trip to the Dacia Arena, racking up 14 goals in their last five visits. They will, therefore, see a viable chance to add to a relatively meagre tally of 25 away points so far this season - currently fewer than any other team in the top six of the standings.


Last Sunday lunchtime, Udinese may have fashioned far fewer chances than relegation-threatened opponents Benevento - not to mention far less of the ball - but ultimately emerged with a 4-2 win. Exciting young forward Jayden Braaf featured again at the Vigorito - striking the fourth goal for the visitors - and the on-loan Manchester City teenager is expected to be offered further opportunities to excel, given his impact in recent rounds. A rare success in the final third for a side which has struggled to hit the net on a consistent basis saw the Zebrette pull closer to the top half of the table and within touching distance of confirming their place on the start line for Serie A's 2021-22 campaign. Four defeats in their previous five matches had underlined the frailties within Luca Gotti's squad, but hopes of catching 10th-placed Verona remain realistic - as Hellas have been toiling of late and Udinese are now just two points behind. They do, however, still have to face both Napoli and Inter in the closing weeks, shortly after taking on a wounded Juventus side. The last time the two clubs met, in January, Udinese fell to a 4-1 defeat at the Allianz Stadium, so will be seeking a significant upgrade on that result back on home turf.


Udinese Serie A form:


Juventus Serie A form:


Team News
Juventus have only central defender Merih Demiral absent for Sunday's game, as winger Federico Chiesa has overcome a thigh problem and should be involved at the Dacia Arena. Coach Andrea Pirlo is expected to make changes, however, with Paulo Dybala's return from a series of layoffs still far from a success - last week's scorer Alvaro Morata could therefore start alongside Capocannoniere leader Cristiano Ronaldo in the visitors' attack. Midfielder Arthur is also in contention for a place in the Juve engine room, with Aaron Ramsey's spot in the team most under threat, as Pirlo considers a return to a four-man defence after reverting to three in Florence. For the home side, much-admired goalkeeper Juan Musso is suspended due to yellow card accumulation, while highly-rated Jayden Braaf sprained his knee during training and will be assessed ahead of the game.  As Ilija Nestorovski recently joined Gerard Deulofeu and Ignacio Pussetto in being ruled out for the rest of the season, Braaf was set to make only his second start for the Friulani, having scored against Benevento last week. If the Dutch starlet is unavailable, then a more conventional target-man such as Stefano Okaka or Fernando Llorente - formerly of Juventus - will start as Udinese's lone striker.


Udinese possible starting lineup:
Scuffet; Becao, Nuytinck, Bonifazi; Molina, De Paul, Walace, Arslan, Stryger Larsen; Pereyra; Okaka


Juventus possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; Danilo, De Ligt, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Cuadrado, Bentancur, Arthur, Chiesa; Morata, Ronaldo


Prediction: Udinese 0-2 Juventus

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