It was a very unhappy afternoon for Juventus on Sunday as they missed the opportunity to go up into the top two of Serie A (SA) following Lazio’s loss earlier in the day due to their 1-1 draw against Bologna. The Old Lady have lost their previous four SA games (D1, L3), yet their manager Massimiliano Allegri will not be fired, club executives declared on Sunday. Instead, they emphasized that Allegri “returned to Juventus for a four years project, we’re not even half done.”
Since three of those games ended in victories, Juventus is hoping that returning to the Allianz Stadium, where they have only lost once in their last ten competitive games to eventual champions Napoli can help them get back on track. Juventus has the joint best SA home record going into the round (W11, D3, L2) thanks in part to that outstanding run.
Lecce, who Juventus has defeated ‘to nil’ in each of their last two head to head matches, will want to make it challenging for Juventus because they are coming off their first league victory in nine SA games (D1, L7). With the help of their 1-0 victory over Udinese, they were able to finish the previous round four points above the relegation zone and two points better off than they had been at this point in their previous unsuccessful SA campaign in 2019/20.
Lecce will now try to win two straight league games for the first time since January, but in order to do it, they must score, something they haven’t done on the road in 376 minutes. For the first time since dropping six straight top flight away games in December 2010, failure to do so might result in them losing their fifth successive SA away game.
Filip Kosti of Juventus hasn’t recorded an assist since the 4-2 victory against Sampdoria here in March, but he still enters the round with the division’s joint second highest total of expected assists (6.7). Morten Hjulmand, a Lecce midfielder, will be one of those attempting to keep him quiet going forward, and the fact that he entered the round having committed more fouls (55) than any other SA player suggests he might want to achieve that by any means possible.
After another lackluster performance over the weekend, Max Allegi plans to make more changes to his ever evolving Juventus lineup on Wednesday. A quick switch back to a back three is definitely a possibility.
Bremer and club captain Leonardo Bonucci are therefore first in line for promotion off the bench, with Samuel Iling now a candidate to start after his superb cameo in Bologna. Adrien Rabiot and Alex Sandro may also receive rest, according to Allegri.
Due to Moise Kean’s continued injury and Dusan Vlahovic’s potential role limitations due to his ankle issue, Arkadiusz Milik may continue to start up front. In order to play alongside the Polish striker, Federico Chiesa will have to beat out Matias Soule and the recently returned Angel Di Maria.
Marco Baroni will only be without long term absentee Marin Pongracic due to injury, therefore Lecce’s starting lineup from their victory against Udinese may essentially remain the same.
However, the leading scorer Gabriel Strefezza must serve a suspension, Lameck Banda is most likely to take his place.
With Morten Hjulmand leading the team from midfield, Samuel Umtiti and Federico Baschirotto should line up at the back once more. Lorenzo Colombo, a Milan loanee, must contend with Assan Ceesay for the starting forward position due to his recent goal drought.
Juventus possible starting lineup
Szczesny, Gatti, Bremer, Danilo, Cuadrado, Fagioli, Locatelli, Miretti, Kostic, Di Maria and Milik.
Lecce possible starting lineup
Falcone, Gendrey, Baschirotto, Umtiti, Gallo, Blin, Hjulmand, Oudin, Banda, Ceesay and Di Francesco.
We predict: Juventus 1-0 Lecce
Juventus may begin a new month by shutting out goal shy Lecce and going back on the winning track even though they lost their defensive tenacity in April. Max Allegri’s team will fight out a win despite the unpleasant spectacle to maintain a lead over their competitors in the top four chase.