Juventus will be looking to continue their unbeaten start to the new season when they take on newly promoted Lecce in matchweek 9 of the 2019-20 Serie A.

Reigning Serie A champions Juventus will be hoping to strengthen their position at the top of the table when they lock horns against Fabio Liverani’s Lecce outfit at Stadio Via del Mare on Saturday afternoon.

Lecce earned promotion back to the Serie A on the back of a second place finish in the second division and find themselves in the 16th place after eight games in the top-flight. Just a point above the drop zone, the Giallorossi came back from behind twice to draw against AC Milan last week and manager Liverani will want his side to show the same fight against the champions this weekend.

Juventus sit atop the Serie A table, with a slender one point lead over Inter Milan. Maurizio Sarri’s side have won nine of their eleven matches (D2) in all competitions this term. After beating Bologna 2-1 in the league last time out , the Bianconeri followed it up with another 2-1 win against Lokomotiv Moscow in the UEFA Champions League and will be gunning for another victory on Saturday.

Ahead of this enticing match-up between the champions and the newly promoted team on Saturday afternoon, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Lecce

Khouma Babacar (L) will pose a threat to Juventus (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)

Khouma Babacar (L) will pose a threat to Juventus (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)

There are no fresh injury concerns for Lecce boss Liverani to contend with heading into the game against Juventus. Midfielder Giannelli Imbula is the only first-team player ruled out of the tie, with striker Filippo Falco being included in the squad by the manager after initially being a doubt for the game.

There are likely to be a couple of changes to the team that took the field against AC Milan last weekend. Brazilian goalkeeper Gabriel is the first-choice between the sticks for Lecce and no alteration is expected there on Saturday. Fabio Lucioni and Luca Rossettini ought to continue as the two centre-backs for the hosts.

There could be a change at right-back, with Andrea Rispoli likely to return to the side replacing Biagio Meccariello, while Marco Calderoni, who scored against Milan, should continue at left-back.

Summer signing Panagiotis Tachtsidis should continue as the holding midfielder for the Giallorossi, with support coming from Zan Majer and Jacopo Petriccione, who ought to return to the starting XI in place of Andrea Tabanelli. The playmaking duties will fall to captain Marco Mancosu, who will take up the lone attacking midfield slot for Lecce.

Khouma Babacar, who scored against Milan, should continue in the two-pronged strike force for the home team. The 26-year-old can cause problems with his power and physicality for the Juventus defence. Partnering him once again should be Filippo Falco, with Diego Farias and Gianluca Lapadula providing options from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Gabriel; Rispoli, Lucioni, Rossettini, Calderoni; Petriccione, Tachtsidis, Majer; Mancosu; Falco, Boubabcar

Juventus

Juventus will once again be without the services of Douglas Costa and Mattia de Sciglio, while Aaron Ramsey is also unlikely to be involved. Mattia Perin, Marko Pjaca and captain Giorgio Chiellini also remain sidelined. Manager Sarri might consider rotating his troops with a busy period looming ahead.

Ronaldo could be rested by Sarri on Saturday (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Ronaldo could be rested by Sarri on Saturday (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Gianluigi Buffon could get a look-in in goal ahead of first-choice Wojciech Szczesny, while there are likely to be a few changes in defence as well. Danilo is in line to start at right-back, affording Juan Cuadrado a rest, while Daniele Rugani and Merih Demiral could replace the centre-back duo of Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt. Alex Sandro should continue at left-back.

Sami Khedira has started in both of Juventus’ last two matches and could be benched here, with Adrien Rabiot starting in the middle of the park, along with deep-lying playmaker Miralem Pjanic and workhorse Blaise Matuidi. Federico Bernardeschi, who did not start against Lokomotiv Moscow, ought to return to the side, starting in the hole behind the two forwards.

Cristiano Ronaldo could also be rested against the newly-promoted side this weekend, making way for an all-Argentine attack comprising of Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala, who grabbed the brace in the midweek win in the Champions League.

Probable Lineup (4-1-2-1-2): Buffon; Danilo, Rugani, Demiral, Sandro; Pjanic; Rabiot, Matuidi; Bernardeschi; Dybala, Higuain

Key Stats

  • Juventus have lost only two of their 17 encounters against Lecce in Serie A in the 21st century (W10 D5).
  • Lecce have won three of their 15 home encounters vs Juventus in the top-flight (D3 L9): a 20% home win percentage, their joint-highest amongst sides they have faced 15+ times on home soil in the competition (Roma, AC Milan, Inter and Juventus).
  • Juventus are unbeaten in their last four away league games (W3 D1), having lost three of their previous four such matches (D1), prior to this run.
  • Lecce have lost each of their last six Serie A home games: only once in their top-flight history have they been on a longer such run (run of eight between 1994 and 1997).
  • Juventus have won 22 points from their opening eight Serie A games for the fourth time in the three points for a win era (excluding 2004/05 and 2005/06 campaigns). On the previous three occasions, they have gone on to win the title (2012/13, 2014/15 and 2018/19).

Player to Watch

Paulo Dybala

Getting back to his best (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Getting back to his best (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

After a difficult year or so, La Joya seems to be slowly regaining his confidence once again and finding his mojo back. Dybala hasn’t made the most explosive of the starts to the 2019-20 season, but has made important contribution to Juventus’ cause, none more so than the brace against Lokomotiv earlier this week to hand them a comeback win.

With that double, Dybala has now taken his tally for the season to three goals and three assists from nine matches in all competitions. With Cristiano Ronaldo likely to be rested against Lecce, the 25-year-old will have to shoulder the responsibility of being the Bianconeri’s main man on Saturday and will need to lead from the front once again.

Prediction

Lecce 1-3 Juventus

Lecce showed great grit and determination to earn a draw against AC Milan last time out, but going up against Juventus will be a different cup of tea altogether. The Bianconeri may not have hit top gear still under Maurizio Sarri, but are yet to lose this season.

The hosts’ defence has looked shaky all season and even if Sarri decides to rotate his personnel, this Juventus side boasts enough quality to see them off without any trouble. The changes in the visitors’ backline might allow Lecce to get a goal on the afternoon, but the reigning champions should walk home with a comfortable win and three points in the bag.

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