Juventus vs Sampdoria
Serie A is back and with it a clash which used to be of some reckoning but now highlights a gulf.
For there was a time when Sampdoria were one of the top dogs of Italian football, yet those days have long disappeared and they face a long way back.
Few of their own fans expect them to return from Turin with anything this weekend against a side launching a bid to win a 10th straight Scudetto.
A word of warning though: opening day football matches have a habit of springing surprises somewhere. Could that be in the Allianz Stadium?
It’s in the dugout where the first interest lies as Andrea Pirlo makes his coaching debut against the most experienced tactician in Serie A.
Pirlo had no sooner been introduced as Juventus’ under-23 coach in Serie C then he was promoted to the top job within a week – Maurizio Sarri sacked within 24 hours of Juve being knocked out of the Champions League.
He did win the title, however, and even though they only finished one point clear of runners-up Inter Milan last term, Juventus had actually clinched the prize in good time (losing three of their final four league matches after it had been secured) so he inherits a good squad.
Yet even with a squad of Juve’s pedigree, Pirlo is a beginner in coaching terms. Presumably the club hopes he can achieve similar to Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid in communicating with players not too much younger than himself.
The main pressure on Juventus will be in Europe. They may be two-time European Cup/Champions League winners but have not lifted the trophy since 1996.
Pirlo has wasted little time on introducing his own measures, letting go of more experienced players such as Gonzalo Higuain, Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira, exchanging Miralem Pjanic for Arthur Melo, and revamping the front line.
Will it ever be enough to win the Champions League, or is the Bianconeri era coming to an end as they finally over-reach?
Pirlo begins his foray into management against Claudio Ranieri, a man with 423 Serie A matches under his belt, 952 in various leagues and, of course, the ultimate fairytale.
Last season he replaced Eusebio Di Francesco after Sampdoria lost six games out of seven games.
Ranieri oversaw an improvement and guided the struggling Blucerchiati to a 15th-place finish.
After avoiding what would have been a demoralising demotion, the veteran Italian will now be aiming higher in his first full season in charge.
If they are going to create many Serie A highlights, they could do with strengthening.
It would appear they are closing in on a double deal for Monaco winger Keita Balde Diao and Inter midfielder Antonio Candreva – two players who will certainly improve them, although neither will be ready for this weekend.
For the hosts, with Paulo Dybala injured, it will again fall on the brilliant Cristiano Ronaldo to become the centre-forward alongside new buy Dejan Kulusevski. Arthur should also be given his Serie A debut.
The visitors will be without forward Manolo Gabbiadini so Federico Bonazzoli is expected to partner fans’ favourite and golden-oldie Fabio Quagliarella.
These clubs have met on 127 occasions with Juventus enjoying victory 64 times, Sampdoria tasting success 26 times and 37 meetings ending all square.
All bar three of those clashes have come in Serie A and last season Juventus recorded a league double.
Just before last Christmas, they won 2-1 at Sampdoria, thanks to a Dybala striker and a Ronaldo header – Gianluca Caprari had briefly equalised for the home side.
With the title won, Juve also won 2-0 at home towards the end of last season (as recently as late July) with Ronaldo again on target before Federico Berardeschi added a second.
The last time Sampdoria won in Turin was in 2013 when a double from Mauro Icardi – now of Paris St Germain – sealed a 2-1 success after Sebastian Giovinco had opened the scoring with a penalty.
Pirlo actually played for Juventus in that encounter.
|Juventus vs Sampdoria||First Half Over 1.50 @ 2.42|
|September 21, 02:45 (GMT+8)|
The SBOTOP Serie A betting odds are firmly lodged in the home camp and, based on the record outlined, you would expect nothing but.
You can back Juventus 1X2 @ 1.30 or Sampdoria @ 8.75 – the draw is available @ 5.20.
You can also back the hosts with Asian Handicap betting odds -1.75 @ 2.11, contrasting with the visitors +1.25 @ 2.36.
A repeat of last year’s result – correct score 2-0 – is on offer @ 6.20.
Outright, Juventus are Serie A favourites @ 1.68.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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