Juventus take on Lazio at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday in what is sure to be an enticing encounter to kick off the second gameweek of Serie A.
Juventus almost faltered in their opening game of the 2018-19 Serie A, only to be bailed out by Federico Bernardeschi. All eyes though, will be on Cristiano Ronaldo, who is set for his first competitive home game in a Juventus shirt. The Portuguese failed to find the back of the net against Chievo, but will be hoping get off the mark in Serie A.
Lazio lost their opening fixture, albeit in a hard-fought 2-1 defeat at the hands of Napoli. While the performance was good, Simone Inzaghi will be hoping to improve his side before they visit the defending champions. What will be interesting is that the match could be billed as the team who came from behind to win against a team who failed to hold on to their lead.
Juventus and Lazio are two of the biggest teams in Serie A, which means the match should serve as an entertainer for the onlookers. Lazio did snatch a 2-1 win on their last visit and it will be interesting to see how the match pans out.
The Hard Tackle runs the rule over the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
A star-studded team that have managed to not only retain their stars but add to it while also facilitating the return of Leonardo Bonucci in a swap deal with AC Milan. Massimiliano Allegri should opt for a four-man defence, meaning we will bear witness to another match with the central pairing of Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.
Alex Sandro is a certain starter on the left while Mattia De Sciglio’s injury all but confirms Joao Cancelo’s place on the right side of the back four.
Allegri would want to go with the duo of Sami Khedira and Miralem Pjanic at the base of the midfield, with Emre Can yet to build as much chemistry with either player.
Douglas Costa, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic will support Cristiano Ronaldo, who will likely start upfront for Juventus and hope to get off the mark in the league, finally. But, Mandzukic could see himself drop to the bench in order to make room for Federico Bernardeschi, the hero against Chievo.
Juventus were always famed for quick transition. But, the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo will equip them with added pace and ability in their attacks, something Allegri would be looking to take advantage of on the pitch.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Cancelo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Sandro; Khedria, Pjanic; Costa, Dybala, Bernardeschi; Ronaldo
There is some positive news for Simone Inzaghi. Lucas Leiva returns from suspension but Patric is still serving his own. Luiz Felipe and Jordan Lukaku are the only other confirmed absentees for Lazio, with the manager likely to be happy to see Senad Lulic return to action as well.
Thomas Strakosha should command the goal while Inzaghi will likely retain the three-man setup. Wallace should come in for the injured Luiz Felipe at the back while Lulic should assume his position on the left side of the four-man midfield, with former Juventus star Martin Caceres likely to drop to the bench.
Lucas Leiva should replace Milan Badelj in the starting eleven, with the rest of the starters likely to be retained by Inzaghi. Ciro Immobile looks in good form and will need to be on his toes to trouble the experienced centre-back partnership of Chiellini and Bonucci.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Strakosha; Wallace, Acerbi, Radu; Marusic, Lucas, Parolo, Lulic; Milinkovic-Savic, Alberto; Immobile
1. Juventus have conceded only four league goals in 2018 so far, the lowest conceded by any team in the top five European leagues.
2. Juventus have conceded in only one of their eight league matches against Lazio.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo attempted the most shots on Matchday 1 (9). But, the Portuguese is yet to score his first goal in Serie A.
4. Paulo Dybala has scored 11 times against Lazio, more goals than against any other single opposition.
5. Ciro Immobile has had a direct hand in 65 goals (53 goals, 12 assists) in 70 league matches so far for Lazio.
Player to Watch
Who else but the new face of not just Juventus but Serie A; it will be Cristiano Ronaldo who will grab all the eyeballs as he takes the field at the Allianz Stadium as a Juventus player for the first time in Serie A history. The Portuguese would himself be disappointed at his individual performance against Chievo and he will be gunning to make his chances count against Lazio.
Juventus 6-1 Lazio
We expect total annihilation of the Lazio defence on Saturday. Cristiano Ronaldo should show up on the field and finally manage a goal, if not more, to open his account. Massimiliano Allegri would have learnt a few lessons as regards not starting Federico Bernardeschi, who should be rewarded with a start after his cameo against Chievo.
Chiellini and Bonucci though, will unlikely be able to record a clean sheet, with the duo still trying to recreate the chemistry they earlier had when being played in a three-man defence.
Expect a barrage of goals from Juventus and one, or possibly, a couple of goals by the away side.