The Old Lady returns to Serie A action following another failure in Europe and are under pressure to take maximum points against winless opponents who have just fired their coach.
Amid a run of just one win from six matches, Juventus welcomed Champions League Group H rivals Benfica to Turin on Wednesday, and the mood worsened inside a half-full Allianz Stadium as the night wore on – the hosts relinquishing an early lead to lose 2-1 to the better side.
Juve had already been beaten in their first continental contest of the season, against Paris Saint-Germain, so sit alongside Maccabi Haifa on zero points so far.
Their fortunes back home in Italy have hardly been much better: Max Allegri‘s men came out of a controversial conclusion to last week’s game against Salernitana with a 2-2 draw, following a second-half comeback which ended with a late Arkadiusz Milik ‘winner’ being wrongly wiped out by the VAR.
Ending a remarkable match down to nine men – and with Allegri sent to the stands – Juventus occupy eighth place in the Serie A standings after six rounds, and their coach is under severe scrutiny from all sides; with inadequate results matched by an aimless style of play.
Juve at least managed eight shots on target in their last league match – one more than in their previous three games versus Fiorentina, Spezia and Roma combined – but they have sorely missed the presence of injured summer signings Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria.
Though one of four Serie A sides still unbeaten in the current campaign, the Bianconeri have drawn four times out of six so far, and before heading to Lombardy this weekend their last win away from home came back in April.
Almost inevitably, Monza moved to end Giovanni Stroppa‘s reign in the dugout this week; promoting primavera coach Raffaele Palladino – who was once a Juventus player – until a more permanent replacement can be found.
In the club’s first-ever Serie A season, after Stroppa steered them to promotion via the playoffs, a tally of just one point from six rounds was enough to persuade Silvio Berlusconi to demonstrate his ruthless streak once again; becoming the second Serie A president to change coach before even reaching the international break.
A 1-1 draw away to Lecce proved to be Stroppa’s final game in charge – a result which finally got Monza on the board. However, of the last four teams to pick up just one point or none after their first six games, only Salernitana avoided relegation with their great escape last term.
As they anticipate the visit of Juventus to Stadio Brianteo, the Biancorossi have lost their first three Serie A home games, and after Stefano Sensi‘s strike last week have registered a mere three goals – the joint-lowest total to date, alongside Sampdoria.
With Sensi being one of several high-profile players to arrive at the ambitious outfit during the summer, expectations were much higher among both fans and ownership. Starting to turn things around on Sunday, though, remains a tall task given the calibre of their opponents.
Joining Arkadiusz Milik and Juan Cuadrado in the stands due to suspension, Max Allegri will be replaced by his assistant Marco Landucci on the touchline in Monza, but has some big calls to make before kickoff on Sunday.
While Wojciech Szczesny returned to full training on Thursday, after missing the last five games with an ankle injury, Mattia Perin may still be preferred in goal; Angel Di Maria is also back in the fold and could feature from the start after impressing as a substitute in midweek.
Whether Allegri opts for a 3-5-2 or a four-man defence, Filip Kostic should start on the left, having provided an assist in each of his last two league games. Up front, Dusan Vlahovic has scored all four of his Serie A goals this season at home – last scoring away in early April.
Meanwhile, Monza striker Gianluca Caprari has previously found the net twice against Juve but has not done so in his last three encounters with the Bianconeri. In all, the loanee from Hellas Verona has now gone nine games without scoring in the top flight.
It remains to be seen if Raffaele Palladino will make sweeping changes to the team named by outgoing boss Giovanni Stroppa last week, but Dany Mota may continue to partner Caprari in attack as Andrea Petagna misses out through injury. Marco D’Alessandro and long-term absentee Andrea Ranocchia are also sidelined.
Monza possible starting lineup:
Cragno; Marlon, Mari, Izzo; Birindelli, Rovella, Sensi, Pessina, Augusto; Mota, Caprari
Juventus possible starting lineup:
Perin; Danilo, Bremer, Bonucci, De Sciglio; McKennie, Paredes, Miretti; Di Maria, Vlahovic, Kostic