With the final international break of 2018 out of the way, Juventus return to Serie A action with a home game against SPAL on Saturday.

Reigning champions Juventus will face off against bottom-half side SPAL in matchweek 13 of the 2018-19 Serie A at the Allianz Stadium this weekend.

Juventus are perched comfortably at the top of the Serie A, having dropped just two points so far in their 12 games. The Bianconeri are unbeaten in the league so far and have a six-point lead over second-placed Napoli following their 2-0 victory over rivals AC Milan prior to the international break.

Manager Massimiliano Allegri will be hoping that his team continue their solid start to the campaign and further strengthen their hold at the top with another victory this weekend.

SPAL, having just evaded relegation in the last season, find themselves sitting 15th in the table, having accrued just 13 points from their 12 matches so far in 2018-19. They are just four points clear of Empoli, who occupy the 18th spot in the standings and come into the game on the back of a 2-2 draw against Cagliari before the two-week layoff.

Leonardo Semplici’s men did cause a major upset this season, when they defeated AS Roma 2-0 away from home last month. And the manager will be hoping that his team are able to conjure up a similar performance in Turin on Saturday.

Team News & Tactics

Juventus

Midfield mainstay Sami Khedira is sidelined for Juventus, along with Emre Can, while winger Federico Bernardeschi is also set to miss out. Paulo Dybala and Blaise Matuidi are likely to be left out on the bench, having returned late from international duties with Argentina and France respectively.

The Bianconeri are likely to line up with a three-man defence on Saturday, with Mattia Perin in goal ahead of No.1 Wojciech Szczesny. Medhi Benatia, who was solid against Milan last time out, should be retained along with Leonardo Bonucci in the backline. Daniele Rugani is likely to get the nod over Giorgio Chiellini, keeping in mind the game against Valencia on Tuesday.

Joao Cancelo and Alex Sandro will take up the wing-back slots on the right and the left sides respectively for the home team. With Matuidi likely to feature from the bench, Miralem Pjanic and Rodrigo Bentancur are set to partner up in the middle of the park for the Old Lady against SPAL.

Juan Cuadrado is in line for a start on the right flank ahead of Douglas Costa, while superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is a guaranteed starter on the opposite wing. Mario Mandzukic, who was on the scoresheet against Milan last time out, will lead the line again on Saturday.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Perin; Benatia, Bonucci, Rugani; Cancelo, Bentancur, Pjanic, Sandro; Cuadrado, Mandzukic, Ronaldo

SPAL

Mohamed Fares isn’t 100% fit, but has been included in the squad by the manager. Everton Luiz is back in contention for selection for the Biancazzurri, after missing the last game with suspension. Semplici will set his team up in the 3-5-2 formation and look to play, physical, aggressive football against the champions on Saturday.

In goal, Alfred Gomis will feature from the get-go ahead of Vanja Milinkovic-Savic and Demba Thiam. The three-man defence is set to featur 34-year-old Felipe along with Francesco Vicari and Thiago Cionek, meaning there is no space for former Arsenal star Johan Djourou.

24-year-old Manuel Lazzari will take up the right wing-back slot for the visitors this weekend, whereas Filippo Costa is likely to come into the team on the opposite side, in place of the unfit Fares.

Former Torino man Mirko Valdifiori will be the deepest of the three central midfielders for SPAL. He will be flanked on either side by 31-year-old Pasquale Schiattarella and 32-year-old summer arrival Simone Missiroli.

Andrea Petagna and Mirco Antonucci, both of whom were on the scoresheet in the draw against Cagliari before the international break, should continue at the top of the attack for Semplici’s side against Juventus.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Gomis; Felipe, Vicari, Cionek; Lazzari, Schiattarella, Valdifiori, Missiroli, Costa; Petagna, Antonucci

Key Stats

  • Juventus have scored at least 2 goals in 12 of their last 13 matches in the Serie A.
  • SPAL, on the other hand, have conceded at least 2 goals in 7 of their last 8 matches in the Italian top-flight.
  • Juventus have scored in all 17 of their home Serie A games against SPAL – netting 39 goals in total.
  • Allegri’s side have scored the most goals from corners in Serie A this season (4), while SPAL have conceded the most (5).
  • SPAL have won only one of their 34 Serie A games against Juventus.

Player to Watch

Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

Living up to the billing (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Living up to the billing (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Having switched to the Italian outfit from Real Madrid in the summer, the Portuguese is making his presence felt in Turin and how. Ronaldo, in his debut campaign for Juventus, has already bagged 9 goals and set up six more for his teammates in 15 matches across all competitions.

The 33-year-old has been directly involved in a goal in all but two of his 12 Serie A appearances this season. In fact, no players’ goals have earned their team more points in Serie A this term than Ronaldo’s for Juventus (seven points from eight goals). Expect him to be the difference maker once again for the Bianconeri on Saturday.

Prediction

Juventus 2-0 SPAL

Juventus have been defeated only once in 2018-19 across all competitions – a 1-2 loss to Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League. Led by the brilliant Cristiano Ronaldo, Massimiliano Allegri’s men have continued to dominate the domestic competitions and have failed to bag maximum points in just one game.

SPAL, on the other hand, have managed to collect just one point from their last three Serie A matches and have been victorious only once in their previous eight league outings.

The visitors might have been able to defeat Roma earlier this season, but it is hard to see them put up a challenge against this Juventus side. And as a result, we at The Hard Tackle are predicting a comfortable victory with a clean sheet intact for the Bianconeri this weekend.