Spezia VS Juventus, away wins

Submit by Tipster Catherine

Match Time:11/1/2020 22:00 Sunday  (GMT+8)

Italian Serie A --  Spezia   VS   Juventus

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The battle of the Bianconeri takes place at Cesena's Stadio Dino Manuzzi on Sunday afternoon as Spezia welcome champions Juventus to their temporary home.

In a Serie A bout of flyweight versus heavyweight proportions, their kit colours are perhaps the only thing these contrasting clubs have in common.


Match preview

Juventus have started this season sluggishly by their usual sky-high standards, stumbling to consecutive draws in their previous three league games against Roma, bottom side Crotone and, last week, Verona.

Against the Gialloblu, Juve were saved only by the ever impressive Dejan Kulusevski, who has perhaps been their most effective player so far this term, with two goals plus an abundance of energetic productivity week in, week out. The Swedish star registered the equaliser from one of the Bianconeri's 22 shots, only six of which were on target.

Verona, under Ivan Juric, are becoming something of a bogey side for Juve. They have only lost one of their last 43 Serie A matches against newly-promoted teams - a 2-1 defeat to Verona in February. That flat-track bullying record, however, will make bleak reading for Sunday's opponents.

Naturally, new coach Pirlo has had a hard time dealing with the ongoing absence of Cristiano Ronaldo. In fact, in four games without 'CR7', Juventus recorded only one victory - against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League. Now their talisman is ready to return, the team dynamic may shift again.

In his absence, Alvaro Morata has occasionally made the scoresheet - and was effectively denied a Champions League hat-trick by the repeated intervention of VAR - but often flatters to deceive, while Paulo Dybala has had a difficult re-introduction to the starting XI after illness. Federico Chiesa, then, will return from suspension eager to supplement an attack lacking confidence and fluidity.

Defensively they have been undermined, too, by out-of-position Juan Cuadrado's continuing travails at right-back - particularly in the desperate defeat to Barcelona on Wednesday.

That performance was justly criticised by the Italian media, and while Juventus have failed to win any of their last six away league matches - losing three - they simply must pick up maximum points against the newly-promoted minnows this week.

Spezia have exceeded most pundits' expectations, so far tallying five points in the league thanks to a 2-0 win – the first in their Serie A history – against Udinese, plus a pair of 2-2 draws against Fiorentina and, last week, Parma.

In fact, the Aquilotti lost grip of a prime winning position at the Ennio Tardini, faltering after building a two-goal advantage and largely having the better of the game. Defender Julian Chabot and Colombian midfielder Kevin Agudelo scored the first-half goals but Vincenzo Italiano's side were denied all three points by a last-gasp Juraj Kucka penalty.

Then in midweek, Spezia saw off Serie B's Cittadella in the third round of the Coppa Italia and they can now look forward to a last-16 tie with Bologna at the end of November.


Against more fluent opposition, though, they have proved more vulnerable. In the games against both Milan and Sassuolo, Spezia suffered three-goal defeats.

Italiano's defence has so far conceded 11 and is among the worst in the league - leaking goals at a rate of over two per game. Against their illustrious visitors from Turin, the Ligurians' back four must improve markedly if they are to avoid defeat.


Spezia Serie A form: LWLDD

Spezia form (all competitions): LWLDDW

Juventus Serie A form: WDWDD

Juventus form (all competitions): DWDWDL


Team News

Following the return from self-isolation of Cristiano Ronaldo and Weston McKennie, Andrea Pirlo's hand has been further strengthened by defensive stalwart Giorgio Chiellini re-joining full training.

Matthijs de Ligt's long-standing shoulder injury is close to fully healed too, though Alex Sandro is definitely missing due to a muscle injury, but there are few other Juventus concerns.

Home boss Italiano is without injured goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet, defenders Juan Ramos, Elio Capradossi and Federico Mattiello and Bulgarian striker Andrey Galabinov, while Croatian centre-back Martin Erlic is in isolation after contracting COVID-19.

Giulio Maggiore and Riccardo Marchizza have cleared the return-to-play protocol and will now be evaluated by the coaching staff as they return from quarantine. Jacopo Sala suffered a thigh strain and will miss the champions' visit.

The Aquilotti's attacking trident should comprise M'Bala Nzola, in the centre, with Emmanuel Gyasi and Daniele Verde expected to support from the flanks.


Spezia possible starting lineup:

Provedel; Ferrer, Terzi, Chabot, Bastoni; Bartolomei, Ricci, Deiola; Verde, Nzola, Gyasi

Juventus possible starting lineup:

Buffon; Danilo, Bonucci, Demiral; Cuadrado, Bentancur, Arthur, Chiesa; Kulusevski, Dybala, Ronaldo


A true clash of cultures will play out on the unloved plastic pitch at Stadio Dino Manuzzi, as the home side bid manfully to resist the might of Juventus and their returning superstar Ronaldo.

Despite their relative attacking woes - and telling lack of a ruthless edge in recent times - we're backing the perennial champions to take care of business this time, with the increasingly essential Kulusevski again to the fore.


Pick: Spezia 1-2 Juventus


Spezia VS Juventus, away wins

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