Leonardo Semplici faces his toughest test yet as Cagliari boss when Serie A holders Juventus visit the much-improved Isolani. The well-travelled tactician surprisingly replaced compatriot Eusebio Di Francesco towards the end of February, shortly after the outgoing manager had received the backing of owner Tommaso Giulini. Elsewhere, the champions sit in third.
Where and when: Sardegna Arena, Cagliari – 14 March, kick-off 17:00
Where you can see Cagliari vs. Juventus: Premier Sports 1
Last time: Cristiano Ronaldo got a brace in the reverse fixture.
Cagliari v Juventus Predictions and Preview
Semplici has taken seven points from his first three games in the dugout and Cagliari are beginning to climb the standings after a difficult 12 weeks. Predecessor Di Francesco lost 11 of his final 15 matches and the Isolani, who targeted a top-half finish at the beginning of the campaign, were only heading in one direction under his stewardship.
Semplici is blessed with internationals in every department and Diego Godin was instrumental in keeping out Crotone and Bologna. Radja Nainggolan, Marko Rog and Nahitan Nández comprise a European level midfield and more is expected of the trio. Nainggolan struck in the closing stages against Sampdoria and was widely regarded as the best player in his position during his time at Roma.
|Our Eurotips||Odds||Free bets||Bookie|
|Alvaro Morata to score first||15/4||Offer|
|Juventus to win 2-1||13/2||Offer|
Nainggolan is 6/1 to strike anytime, while Leonardo Pavoletti can be found at 7/4. The burly hitman will be joined by top scorer Joao Pedro who has 13 strikes and two assists to his name despite the Isolani’s struggles. The skipper is 7/1 to open proceedings and Cagliari are 19/4 to emerge triumphant.
Opponents Juventus are back in domestic action after their Champions League heartache. The Turin giants bowed out at the Round of 16 stage and big changes are expected in the summer. Andrea Pirlo was defiant in his assessment at full-time but the jury is out on the young tactician.
On the pitch, Federico Chiesa has shone. The recruit from Fiorentina has probably surpassed expectations in his first year at the club and will be the Bianconeri’s go to man when Ronaldo departs.
Chiesa is 11/2 to break the deadlock and Ronaldo is available at 12/5. The Portuguese legend still has plenty to give at the top level and may go in search of one final challenge if Juventus are unable to match his ambitions next term. The away dressing room are 11/20 to claim victory and a share of the spoils is 31/10.
One to watch for Cagliari: Giovanni Simeone will feature after the break and Semplici has a welcome selection dilemma on his hands with the Argentine and Pavoletti vying for one spot. The Madrid born ace is 17/2 to notch last.
One to watch for Juventus: Adrien Rabiot is beginning to find his feet in Italy and has scored in his last two appearances. The Parisian is 15/2 to bag anytime.
Long shot: There will be some tired legs after Juventus played 120 minutes in midweek with Chiesa, Ronaldo, Morata, Juan Cuadrado, Alex Sandro and Arthur all unlikely to be rested. For Pirlo, it is a defining period and how his men perform will be telling. An emphatic 4-0 outcome is 22/1.