Juventus will be aiming to move to the top of the 2019-20 Serie A standings when they face off against relegation battlers SPAL on Saturday afternoon.

Reigning Serie A champions Juventus will be looking to knock Inter Milan off their perch in the league table, when they welcome a struggling SPAL side to the Allianz Stadium this weekend.

Juventus are currently two points below Inter in the standings, having collected 13 points from 5 games, following their 2-1 victory against newly-promoted Brescia this midweek. With the Nerazzurri scheduled to play Sampdoria later on Saturday, Maurizio Sarri’s side have a chance to dislodge them off the top of the table and put pressure on their challengers with a victory at home.

SPAL are stationed in the 19th place after a disastrous start to the new season. Leonardo Semplici’s men have collected just 3 points from 5 matches (W1 L4) and find themselves in a difficult position this early into the season. While a trip to Turin is a daunting prospect, SPAL can draw confidence from the fact that they beat Juventus 2-1 in their last meeting at home.

Ahead of the latest meeting between Juventus and SPAL at the Allianz Stadium, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Juventus

Sarri will be boosted by Ronaldo's return (Photo by ISABELLA BONOTTO/AFP/Getty Images)

Sarri will be boosted by Ronaldo’s return (Photo by Isabella Bonotto/AFP/Getty Images)

Juventus will once again be without the services of Mattia De Sciglio and Douglas Costa along with Marko Pjaca, while Giorgio Chiellini is a long-term absentee. There is a boost for the Bianconeri as Cristiano Ronaldo trained with the team after missing the midweek assignment, but is likely to start on the bench.

However, they will be without right-back Danilo, who picked up an injury against Brescia, while Alex Sandro did not train with the rest of the squad due to a family emergency and is unlikely to take part on Saturday either. This leaves Sarri short on options for the full-back slots.

Juan Cuadrado is expected to slot in at right-back for Juventus while midfielder Blaise Matuidi could fill in at left-back having played in that position during his stint with St. Etienne. Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt are expected to continue as the two centre-halves ahead of Merih Demiral and Daniele Rugani.

Having played a diamond midfield in the previous game, Sarri is expected to revert to his favoured 4-3-3 formation on Saturday, with Miralem Pjanic at the base of the three-man midfield. Sami Khedira is expected to hold on to his spot in the middle of the park, while Rodrigo Bentancur could come into the team, with Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot dropping to the bench.

Gonzalo Higuain should spearhead the attack for the Bianconeri against SPAL. Federico Bernardeschi and Paulo Dybala are likely to slot in on either side of him in the hosts’ attack.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Szczesny; Cuadrado, Bonucci, de Ligt, Matuidi; Bentancur, Pjanic, Khedira; Bernardeschi, Higuain, Dybala

SPAL

Federico Di Francesco came off with a thigh injury in the last game against Lecce and will miss out this weekend. Mohamed Fares and Marco D’Alessandro are also ruled out of the contest for SPAL along with midfielder Jasmin Kurtic, while there are doubts over the involvement of Mattia Valoti and Felipe.

Manager Leonardo Semplici is likely to be forced into making changes for the trip to Juventus, but he is expected to stick with his preferred 3-5-2 formation in Turin. Etrit Berisha is a guaranteed starter between the sticks for the visitors, but Igor is likely to get the nod in place of Felipe in the three-man backline alongside Thiago Cionek and Francesco Vicari.

Leonardo Semplici's SPAL have won just once this season (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

Leonardo Semplici’s SPAL have won just once this season (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

Gabriel Strefezza replaced the injured Di Francesco at right wing-back against Lecce and is likely to feature from kick-off on Saturday ahead of Jacopo Sala. Arkadiusz Reca, on loan from fellow Serie A side Atalanta, should hold on to his spot on the opposite flank for the visitors.

Simone Missiroli should slot in as the holding midfielder for SPAL, while summer signing Alessandro Murgia is also likely to be retained in the starting lineup. With Kurtic ruled out and Valoti doubtful, Mirko Valdifiori could be in line for a start in the middle of the park.

37-year-old skipper Sergio Floccari should start as part of the two-pronged attack for Semplici’s team alongside Andrea Petagna, who has scored two goals in five matches so far this season.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Berisha; Cionek, Vicari, Igor; Strefezza, Murgia, Missiroli, Valdifiori, Reca; Floccari, Petagna

Key Stats

  • Juventus have never lost at home in Serie A matches against SPAL (W13 D5), including winning each of the last six.
  • SPAL defeated Juventus 2-1 in their last meeting in April earlier this year. It was only their second victory against the Bianconeri in the Serie A and the first since 1957.
  • Juventus are unbeaten in their last 23 home matches (W19 D4) in the Serie A, the second longest domestic streak in progress within the top 5 European Leagues, after Premier League leaders Liverpool (43).
  • SPAL have shipped in 11 goals in their five Serie A matches so far this season. It is the joint-worst defensive record in the competition along with 14th placed Lecce and bottom dwellers Sampdoria.
  • Juventus could win at least five of their first six matches in the top-flight for a fourth season in a row. The Bianconeri have never started so well in so many consecutive Serie A campaigns.

Player to Watch

Paulo Dybala

Dybala is yet to score this season (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Dybala is yet to score this season (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

After a forgettable campaign last term, it has been another slow start to the new season for the Argentine superstar. Dybala, so far in the 2019-20 campaign, has featured in only four of Juventus’s six matches, starting just two. La Joya is yet to score a goal this term, but he did get an assist in the last game against Brescia.

With Cristiano Ronaldo unlikely to start on Saturday, the onus will once again be on Dybala to come up with the goods in the final third against SPAL. The 25-year-old has scored once in his three appearances against Juve’s weekend opponents and will be keen on adding to that tally to lead his team to a win.

Prediction

Juventus 2-0 SPAL

Juventus came back from a goal down to defeat Brescia 2-1 in the midweek. They haven’t made the most dominating start to life under Maurizio Sarri, but have shown resilience to carve out wins. SPAL, on the other hand, have struggled to get going this term, winning just one of their five matches and boast the worst defensive record in the competition.

Despite injuries hampering the reigning champions, they have enough quality and depth in the squad to see off a struggling SPAL outfit on Saturday afternoon. We, at The Hard Tackle, are expecting a straightforward 2-0 win for Juventus against Leonardo Semplici’s men at the Allianz Stadium.

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