Juventus visit Spezia on Sunday as the Old Lady look to get back to winning ways after two consecutive draws in the Serie A.

Juventus sit in sixth place in the Serie A after five gameweeks. With three draws and two wins, Juventus are one of the three teams to still be unbeaten in the league. Despite this record, Andrea Pirlo and his men have recorded the worst start to the league since 2010.

Pirlo would be looking for a positive response from his players following an upsetting loss at home to Barcelona in the Champions League. Cristiano Ronaldo’s recovery from Covid-19 should serve as a boost for them as well.

Spezia, just like Juventus, have drawn their previous two matches – including an impressive stalemate versus Fiorentina. The newly-promoted side have impressed a fair bit as they sit 14th in the table, with five points from their five matches.

Ahead of this David vs Goliath contest coming our way from Orogel Stadium Dino Manuzzi on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Spezia

Spezia find themselves in a difficult situation with a number of players out injured, and a few in isolation due to Covid-19. Manager Vincenzo Italiano will have to make do without Gennaro Acampora, Martin Erlic, Giulio Maggiore, Federico Mattiello, Juan Ramos, Giuseppe Mastinu, Elio Capradossi, Jacopo Sala, Jeroen Zoet and Andrej Galabinov.

Riccardo Marchizza has recovered from the virus and has been picked in the matchday squad for Sunday. In fact, he is expected to feature from the get-go against the champions, forming the backline alongside Julian Chabot, Claudio Terzi and Salva Ferrer.

Spezia have looked shaky defensively, especially versus the big sides, shipping more than three goals versus AC Milan and Sassuolo. Having one of the worst defensive records in the league could prove to be a problem versus the in-form Alvaro Morata.

However, Juventus’ defence is unreliable as well, and Spezia do have the quality to hurt them. Coming fresh from a midweek victory in the Coppa Italia versus Serie B side Citadella, Spezia would hope to upset the Old Lady at home. For that to happen, they will look at Daniele Verde to produce the goods in front of goal, after scoring in the cup tie.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Provedel; Ferrer, Terzi, Chabot, Marchizza; Agoume, Ricci, Bartolomei; Gyasi, Nzola, Verde

Juventus

The most notable change in things would be the return of talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, who has finally tested negative for Covid-19. Pirlo mentioned in the press conference that it is unlikely that the Portuguese will start, but a spot on the bench at Spezia is on the cards.

Giorgio Chiellini and Matthijs de Ligt have both started training, but neither is a part of the squad for the trip to Spezia. Alex Sandro is still out with an injury and has not made the squad either. There are unlikely to be a host of changes made to the side that started against Barcelona in midweek.

Paulo Dybala could be on the bench after an underwhelming performance versus Barcelona, while Juventus welcome back Federico Chiesa from suspension, who looks set to start. Gianluca Frabotta could come into the side at left wing-back, allowing Pirlo to use Chiesa in an advanced role on the flank.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, Demiral; Frabotta, Rabiot, Bentancur, Cuadrado; Kulusevski, Chiesa; Morata

Key Stats

  • Spezia and Juventus last met in Serie B in 2006/07. The minnows bagged four points from a possible six against the Bianconeri, registering one win and one draw.
  • Juventus have only lost 1 of their last 43 games versus a newly-promoted side ( 34 wins, 8 draws)
  • Juventus could draw 3 Serie A matches for the first time since 2012, under Antonio Conte when Juventus drew 4.
  • Alvaro Morata has scored 31% (5/16) of his Serie A goals versus newly-promoted teams.
  • Spezia and Juventus have both hit the woodwork four times this season, a league-high along with Napoli.

Player to Watch

Alvaro Morata

Morata has made five appearances for Juventus in all competitions and scored 3 goals along with a solitary assist, not to mention the 3 disallowed goals versus Barcelona…

Jokes aside, Morata is looking to replicate his prolific days of Juventus from four years ago. He seems determined to prove his critics wrong and a match versus Spezia seems to be the right platform to help him do that.

Prediction

Spezia 0 – 3 Juventus

Despite Juventus being leaky at the back, the return of Chiesa and Morata’s desire to right his wrongs from midweek will guide Juventus to a comfortable victory versus Spezia. Pirlo has had a stuttering start to the season and a win versus Spezia would definitely be crucial for their morale going forward.

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