Following a controversial win away to Catania at the weekend, Juventus will be looking to prevail in a more sedate fashion when they host struggling Bologna at the eponymous Juventus Arena on Wednesday (7.45pm GMT, live on ESPN).
Catania had a perfectly good goal disallowed in the first half and were further aggrieved when Arturo Vidal’s winner was allowed despite Nicklas Bendtner looking suspiciously offside in the build-up.
Given Juve’s history, most recently the 2006 Calciopoli match-fixing scandal, there was little surprising about the outraged reaction that followed in the Italian press.
Most sensible observers, however, saw the mistakes as just that: mistakes. We are certainly not yet at the stage where a succession of dubious calls have gone Juventus’ way. Indeed until this weekend all the talk had been of their incredible unbeaten run, which was extended to 48 matches by the victory in Sicily.
Juventus currently lead the way in Serie A, three points clear of second-placed Napoli and have shown little indication that they require interventions from the officials to succeed. They have already faced and beaten Napoli, Roma and Udinese on a run that has seen them drop just two points – away to Fiorentina – since the start of the season.
The Old Lady have scored the joint highest number of goals in the division (20) and conceded the least (4). At home they have won four from four, scoring 10 and conceding just once. Three draws in the group stage of the Champions League have displayed certain weaknesses not yet apparent in domestic play, in which they have been formidable.
The 3-5-2 formation that coach Antonio Conte first utilised last season as a way to combat the specific threat posed by the likes of Napoli and Udinese has now become Juve’s default set-up. Every player appears entirely comfortable in his role, with the midfield three particularly impressive, marshalled by Andrea Pirlo, perhaps the finest deep-lying playmaker in world football.
The summer signing of Kwando Asamoah had added extra dynamism on the left, while Paul Pogba, another new arrival, has done well when called upon in midfield, as he likely will be again on Wednesday with Vidal missing through suspension.
Bologna will also be without an important player for the trip to Turin, although the impact of Alessandro Diamanti’s absence is likely to be more keenly felt considering their dearth of suitable replacements for the forward.
Diamanti was directly involved (scoring or assisting) in 31.7% of Bologna’s goals last season and already has one goal and two assists to his credit in the current campaign. With another of the side’s main creative sparks, Gaston Ramirez, having departed for pastures new in the summer Bologna will be sorely lacking imagination when they take to the field on Wednesday.
The Rossoblu are struggling in the lower reaches of the Serie A table having accumulated just seven points from their first nine fixtures. They have lost each of their last three matches and have avoided defeat in just one of their five away matches to date.
There are problems at both ends of the pitch for coach Stefano Pioli. His side have kept just one clean sheet all season and have also failed to score themselves on four occasions. Four of their goals came in one match, a 4-0 thrashing of Catania. That aside they have managed just five in eight matches.
Italian international striker Alberto Gilardino has scored five times in eight appearances since his move from Genoa, but apart from him it is difficult to see where Bologna’s goals are likely to come from.
The suspended Diamanti will not be the only absentee Pioli has to contend with. Battling midfield Diego Perez and forward Robert Acquafresca are both out injured, while experienced defender Daniele Portanova is still serving a ban for failing to report match fixing.
Juventus vs Bologna Betting Tips Verdict
Juventus have an intimidating home record so far this season and are clear favourites (at best odds of 4/15 with Stan James) to make it five wins from five at the Juventus Arena on Wednesday. Bologna (14/1 BetVictor) have lost four of their five away matches so far this season and have problems at both ends of the pitch that make a comfortable home victory all but certain. The draw is 5/1 with BetVictor and Coral.
- All of Juventus’ home victories this season have come by two or more goals, so back Juventus -1.5 on the Asian Handicap @ 17/20 with Bet365.
- Without the invention that Diamanti offers them we think Bologna will struggle to score against a Juventus side who have conceded just once at home this season. Therefore, bet on Juventus to win to nil @ best odds of 17/20 at William Hill.