Juventus are eyeing their first win of the new Serie A campaign as they take on Spezia at Stadio Alberto Picco on Wednesday.
Juventus’ post-Cristiano Ronaldo era has gotten off to a disastrous start. Four games into the new season, the Italian giants are yet to register a single victory under the leadership of Massimiliano Allegri.
On the contrary, the Bianconeri are currently third-bottom in the league table with two points in four matches and are coming on the back of a 1-1 draw with AC Milan. Juventus, though, will be dealt with arguably their easiest challenge of the season so far as they lock horns with Spezia, at Stadion Alberto Picco this Wednesday.
It will be an opportunity for the visitors to secure their first league win of the campaign, effectively kickstarting their recovery process. As for their opponents, the goal will be to secure at least a point that will leave them in a good position come the end of MD 5.
Indeed, Spezia are currently 13th in the league table, securing their first win of the season on the weekend, up against newly-promoted Venezia. Il Acquilotti do have a tendency of being leaky at the back, notably losing 7-1 on aggregate to Juventus last season, but Thiago Motta’s men will be hoping to gather momentum from their recent win and produce another upset against the Old Lady this midweek.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of their crucial encounter at Stadio Alberto Picco on Wednesday.
Team News & Tactics
Spezia head coach Motta is missing out on a few players heading into this game, including Martin Erlic who has recently picked up an injury while full-back Arkadiusz Reca is also out, joining Ebrima Colley, Kevin Agudelo and Leo Sena on the sidelines.
🗣 #ThiagoMotta: “Gioco di squadra e vittoria meritata”
— Spezia Calcio (@acspezia) September 19, 2021
Motta is likely to shift to a 3-4-3 formation where the double-pivot Jacopo Sala and Mehdi Bourabia will be hoping to add the solidity in the middle of the park. They are set to receive additional aid from the two wing-backs in Salva Ferrer and Simone Bastoni, who is filling in for the injured Reca.
Spezia can shift into a more traditional 4-2-3-1 if necessary with Bastoni dropping into defence while Ferrer can shift into a central role. Either way, the defensive trifecta of Kelvin Amian, Dimitrios Nikolaou and Erlic’s replacement, Petko Hristov, will need to be cautious as they look to provide protection for Jeroen Zoet in goal.
As for the attack, on-loan Barcelona forward Rey Manaj should lead the line for Spezia this midweek, with the support of Eddie Salcedo and Emmanuel Gyasi out wide, though Motta can also deploy Simone Verdi.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Zoet; Amian, Nikolaou, Hristov; Ferrer, Bourabia, Sala, Bastoni; Salcedo, Manaj, Gyasi
Allegri, on the other hand, won’t have to deal with too many absentees heading into this game. But the veteran head coach will certainly be under the microscope after a disastrous start to the campaign.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) September 21, 2021
Paulo Dybala has emerged as the leader for Juventus after the summer exit of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Argentine is set to spearhead the attack once again, alongside Alvaro Morata, whose aerial prowess might be useful up against a Spezia side that is likely to defend deep in their lines.
However, Morata has recently emerged as a doubt due to an adductor injury. It puts Moise Kean in contention to start, with Federico Chiesa offering the creative support from the right-hand channel. The young Italian forms a strong combination with Juan Cuadrado out wide and the duo could play a vital role in Juve’s chance-creation this midweek.
In midfield, Manuel Locatelli and Rodrigo Bentancur have emerged as first-team regulars under Allegri. But the 54-year-old has also used Adrien Rabiot in a slightly wider role. He is likely to follow the same formula against Spezia, though Aaron Ramsey and Weston McKennie are potential alternatives.
Meanwhile, in the defensive department, Cuadrado might be given the nod at right-back, ahead of Danilo due to his crossing prowess. Juventus, after all, do need more creative firepower after struggling to find goals, so Allegri will be hoping that the combination of Cuadrado and Alex Sandro can make the difference for his team.
The onus of providing solidity at the back will be on the two central defenders in Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci, with Wojciech Szczesny starting in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Szczesny; Cuadrado, De Ligt, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Chiesa, Bentancur, Locatelli, Rabiot; Kean, Dybala
- Juventus won both of their Serie A meetings against Spezia last term, scoring at least three goals in each: 4-1 away and 3-0 at home.
- Spezia picked up only two points from their three home midweek games played in Serie A last term: two draws (Bologna and Inter) and one defeat (Genoa).
- Juventus have won each of their last four Serie A matches played on a Wednesday, including their last two away from home against Sassuolo and AC Milan.
- Spezia have lost two of their last four home Serie A games (W1 D1), having avoided defeat in their previous six before this run.
- Following their win against Venezia last time out, Spezia could win back to back Serie A matches for the third time, doing so most recently last February (vs Sassuolo and AC Milan).
Player to Watch
Federico Chiesa is undisputedly one of Juventus’ brightest assets in the attacking department. The quality he provides out wide is often the deciding factor in matches, but after a tremendous Euro 2020 campaign with Italy, the attacker has started the new season on a disappointing note.
In three matches, Chiesa is yet to take part in a goal or an assist. However, that could change on Wednesday as the Italian international faces the lowly Spezia defence that has already conceded ten goals so far and can crumble under pressure. Motta’s men, therefore, will certainly need to be careful of his presence out wide, if they are to salvage anything from this game.
Spezia 0-2 Juventus
Juventus haven’t had a great start to the season and there has been very little improvement under the leadership of Allegri so far. But they could be poised to register the first victory against the Spezia team that clearly do not have enough quality to prevent the mighty Old Lady attack, and haven’t performed all too well under their new coach.
That is why, The Hard Tackle is expecting the Bianconeri to secure a comfortable 2-0 victory and most importantly, a clean sheet in this Serie A encounter in midweek.