Juventus make the long trip to the Stadio Via del Mare on Saturday to face newly promoted Lecce in Serie A, aiming to pick up all three points and stay top of the league.
After edging out Inter 2-1 at the San Siro at the start of October to move to the top of the table, they beat Bologna at home last weekend to ensure they kept this one-point advantage at the top of the league.
Maurizio Sarri’s side have 22 points from their opening eight games and will look to maintain their unbeaten start against a Lecce side who sit 16th in Serie A.
However, Lecce’s manager Fabio Liverani will have been pleased with his side last weekend after they picked up a point in an entertaining draw away at Milan, and will looking to build upon this performance.
With much at stake, here is 90min’s preview of Saturday’s clash.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Saturday 26 October|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||14:00 (BST)|
|Where Is it Played?||Stadio Via del Mare|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||N/A|
Sarri is set to be without trio Aaron Ramsey, who has an adductor injury, Douglas Costa, who has a muscle problem and defender Mattia De Sciglio, who has a bicep injury, for the game with Lecce, with all not expected back for a few weeks.
Alongside this, both Giorgio Chiellini and Mattia Perin remain out with longer term injuries.
Up front Paulo Dybala looks set to start after firing in two goals in the space of three minutes Lokomotiv Moscow on Tuesday night in the UEFA Champions League.
Meanwhile Lecce will be without former Stoke City midfielder Giannelli Imbula who has a thigh issue. Italian forward Filippo Falco who is playing in Serie A for the second season in his career, after featuring in the division for Bologna in the 2015/16 season, may miss the clash after coming off with a knock at half time against Milan.
Striker Khouma Babacar bagged his first goal of the season against Milan and could play upfront alongside Brazilian forward Diego Farias, who has featured five times this term.
|Lecce||Gabriel; Meccariello, Lucioni, Rossettini, Calderoni; Petriccione, Tachtsidis, Tabanelli; Babacar, Farias.|
|Juventus||Szczesny; Cuadrado, Bonucci, De Ligt, Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi; Bentancur; Ronaldo, Dybala.|
Head to Head Record
Saturday’s encounter will be the 25th meeting between the two teams, with Juventus unsurprisingly holding the better record, winning on 14 occasions with Lecce victorious just three times. Therefore, there has been seven draws between the two.
The last game came back in the 2011/12 season, where Lecce picked up a point at the Allianz Stadium in a game that ended 1-1. This came after Juve had won the previous clash 1-0 in January 2012.
Lecce gained a good point last time out at Milan thanks to a last gasp equaliser but have only won once in their last five games - a 3-1 victory away at SPAL in late September.
Back to back defeats to AS Roma and Atalanta following that rare victory mean Lecce currently have just seven points from their opening eight league games, leaving them in 16th in the table, just one point clear of the relegation zone.
Juventus on the other hand, have been flawless in recent weeks and are on a seven-match winning streak going into this game, picking up five straight wins in Serie A - including that vital victory away at Inter at the start of the month – along with two straight victories in the Champions League.
Five of these seven victories though have been by the margin of just a single goal meaning while Juventus have been impressive, there is still room for improvement.
Here is how both sides have performed in their last five games.
|Milan 2-2 Lecce (20/10)||Juventus 2-1 Lokomotiv Moscow (22/10)|
|Atalanta 3-1 Lecce (06/10)||Juventus 2-1 Bologna (19/10)|
|Lecce 0-1 Roma (29/09)||Inter 1-2 Juventus (06/10)|
|SPAL 1-3 Lecce (25/09)||Juventus 3-0 Bayer Leverkusen (01/10)|
|Lecce 1-4 Napoli (22/09)||Juventus 2-0 SPAL (28/09)|
Juventus will be in confident mood for this game and should possess far too much quality in all areas of the pitch for Lecce on Saturday. Cristiano Ronaldo and Dybala in attack will cause all sorts of issues and both will be looking to add to their goalscoring tally for the season this weekend.
While Lecce did collect a point at Milan last time out, Milan have been fairly poor so far this term and are certainly not on the same level as Juventus. Alongside this, Lecce have an awful home record in Serie A this season, losing all three of their opening home games making Saturday’s task seem almost impossible.
Prediction: Lecce 0-2 Juventus