Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is expected to ring the changes but hinted his new-look tactical formation could be deployed again when the champions travel to Sassuolo on Sunday.

Allegri has regularly had to choose whether to pair Paulo Dybala or Mario Mandzukic with Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain as his side target a record sixth consecutive scudetto.

But the Juve handler deployed all three in the past two outings to keep the league and Cup champions in the hunt for a third consecutive double.

Juventus traditionally play a 3-5-2 but a switch to a 4-2-3-1 saw Dybala and Higuain seal a 2-0 win over Lazio by the 17th minute last week.

Wednesday’s 2-1 Italian Cup quarter-final win over AC Milan was virtually wrapped up by the 21st minute after goals by Dybala and Miralem Pjanic.

With a trip to Porto in the last 16 of the Champions League on the horizon next month, Allegri was quick to underline: “I haven’t said we will always use a formation like this.”

But his new-look side has appeared impressive, and he added: “I wanted to give some continuity to how we played last weekend. The lads worked very well.”

Allegri is set to ring the changes, meaning a return to his tried and trusted formation remains a possibility.

Gianluigi Buffon is set to take the goalkeeper’s gloves from Norberto Neto, who played in midweek, while Giorgio Chiellini, Dani Alves and Stephan Lichtsteiner, all rested, are expected to start. 

Kwadwo Asamoah, though, is hoping his top performance in midweek is enough to keep him in Allegri’s good books.

The Ghanaian midfielder/defender is usually a bit-part player for the Italian champions, but said: “The new formation suits us really well, it has made us better going forward and defensively.”

With title rivals Roma just one point behind and an impressive Napoli only three points further adrift, Allegri is unlikely to take any chances.

But Roma will be taking nothing for granted when they visit Sampdoria looking to maintain their title charge in what is expected to be emblematic captain Francesco Totti’s 25th and final season at the club. 

Coach Luciano Spalletti watched nervously as Roma held on to a 1-0 lead at home to Cagliari last week, when Edin Dzeko hit his 14th goal of the campaign, but is expected to keep faith with his starting eleven.

Diego Perotti and Radja Nainggolan should start behind Dzeko, who would be leading the Serie A goal scoring charts instead of Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi had the Bosnian been even more clinical this season.

But Dzeko told IlMessaggero.it: “I don’t think about it (criticism). If someone criticises me, that’s fine. I always try my best to score goals, that’s my job.”

Juventus face Napoli in the two-leg semi-finals of the Italian Cup after Maurizio Sarri’s men edged Fiorentina on Tuesday thanks to Jose Callejon’s 71st minute winner.

Sarri should welcome back Faouzi Ghoulam to his back line after the Algerian’s early return from the Africa Cup of Nations.

Dries Mertens, with 12 goals this season in the absence of Polish striker Arkaduisz Milik, should start alongside Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne against a crisis-hit Palermo side that is 11 points from the safety zone. 

Palermo on Thursday appointed their fourth coach of a troubled season, tasking former Uruguay defender Diego Lopez with saving the Serie A strugglers from the drop.

Lopez took over from Eugenio Corini following his resignation on Wednesday.

Palermo started the season with Davide Ballardini, who was replaced by Roberto De Zerbi only two weeks into the campaign.


Fixtures (GMT)


Lazio v Chievo (1700), Inter Milan v Pescara


Torino v Atalanta (1130), Cagliari v Bologna, Crotone v Empoli, Fiorentina v Genoa, Sampdoria v Roma, Sassuolo v Juventus, Udinese v AC Milan (all 1400), Napoli v Palermo (1945)

Agence France-Presse

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