An unbeaten Juventus side welcome Spezia to the Allianz Stadium in Serie A on Wednesday evening.
The Old Lady produced arguably their best performance of the season against Roma – who had to rely upon the “culo della Madonna” (which metaphorically – not literally – means ‘the luck of the gods’) to earn a point last weekend according to the visiting manager, Jose Mourinho.
Spezia were playing in the fifth tier of Italian football as recently as 2009 but have taken three points from the first three games of their third consecutive top-flight campaign so far this term.
Here’s everything you need to know about the meeting between these two sides.
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Juventus: 4 Wins
Spezia: 1 Win
Juve’s injury woes continued as Massimiliano Allegri watched another midfielder limp off against Roma last Saturday. Adrien Rabiot may not be thrust straight back into the starting XI after suffering cramp against the capital side. Paul Pogba is yet to make his second debut for the club after tearing his meniscus in July while Arthur continues to struggle with an ankle problem.
Marley Ake is also sidelined with an issue in the same area and Felix Correia isn’t expected to return from surgery on his shoulder until next month.
Kaio Jorge and Federico Chiesa are both long-term absentees but Leonardo Bonucci, Angel Di Maria and Nicolo Fagioli have been deemed fit enough to participate in partial training. However, it is unlikely any of that trio will be ready for the visit of Spezia.
Juventus Starting 11: Szczesny; De Sciglio, Danilo, Bremer, Sandro; Zakaria, Locatelli; Cuadrado, Miretti, Kostic; Vlahovic.
Bench: Pinsoglio, Perin, McKennie, Rovella, Milik, Gatti, Kean, Rugani, Soule.
Albin Ekdal’s dismissal left Spezia battling against Sassuolo with ten players for the final eight minutes but the hosts managed to hold onto a 2-2 draw – despite facing six shots (half of which came from inside the six-yard box) in that time.
Alongside the suspended Swede, Petko Hristov is a doubt as injury forced him off during the interval of last weekend’s draw. Both fullbacks Kelvin Amian (abdominal) and Salva Ferrer (knee) are also set to be sidelined. The Milan loanee Daniel Maldini is yet to appear for his new side while he nurses a muscular problem.
Spezia Starting 11: Dragowski; Caldara, Kiwior, Nikolaou; Gyasi, Bastoni, Bourabia, Agudelo, Reca; Strelec, Nzola.
Bench: Zoet, Zovko, Holm, Sala, Verde, Beck, Podgoreanu, Kovalenko, Ellertsson.
Juve are yet to taste defeat but have rarely matched a good performance with a comparative result, as Allegri pointed out on the weekend. “The devil invented this game,” he mused. “In three matches, the one we ran the most risk [of losing] in was the Sassuolo game and we won that 3-0.”
Despite promising signs against Roma, predicting a compelling display from Juve is a far riskier business than plumping for a Bianconeri win. Whatever showing they churn out, Juve are favourites to record a fifth consecutive Serie A win against Spezia.
Prediction: Juventus 1-0 Spezia