Sports Mole brings you the team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Saturday’s Serie A clash between SPAL and Juventus.
Indeed, Juve currently sit 20 points clear of second-placed Napoli in Italy’s top flight, but SPAL are desperately battling to stay clear of the relegation zone and will not provide straightforward opposition.
Juve winning the title is inevitable, but SPAL will be desperate to prevent that happening this weekend as they look to move further clear of the relegation zone approaching the business end of the campaign.
Eight wins, eight draws and 15 defeats – that is how SPAL have performed in Serie A this term. A total of 32 points has left them in 16th spot in the table, four points clear of 18th-placed Empoli with seven games left.
Leonardo Semplici‘s side were in big trouble in the early stages of March, but recorded three straight wins over Roma, Frosione and Lazio between March 16 and April 3 to move clear of the relegation zone.
The White and Blues will enter this match off the back of a 2-1 loss at Cagliari last weekend, but they have been in good form in recent weeks. Overcoming Juve this weekend is going to be tough, but Semplici’s team have a huge game away to Empoli on April 20 before ending the month at home to Genoa.
Juve recorded a 2-0 win in the reverse Serie A match earlier this season, but SPAL held the Old Lady to a goalless draw in the corresponding clash during the 2017-18 campaign.
Gli Spallini have the fourth-worst home record in Italy’s top flight this term, though, having won just four of their 15 matches in front of their own supporters, which will be a concern ahead of this weekend’s clash.
That said, Juve will have more than one eye on the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Ajax next week and SPAL should be full of confidence as they look for a fourth win in five.
Recent form: LLWWWL
As mentioned, Juve need only a point to celebrate their eighth consecutive Serie A title and it would be seriously impressive if they wrapped up the championship with six games left.
Juve’s league form has been stunning this season, winning 27 of their 31 matches and losing just once. They are currently 20 points clear of second-placed Napoli, who have been unable to keep pace this term.
Massimiliano Allegri‘s side are going to win the league regardless of whether it happens this weekend, meaning that the majority of their focus will be on next week’s Champions League clash with Ajax.
It would be fair to say that the European Cup is the trophy that the Old Lady really want this season and either Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur will be waiting in the semi-finals of the competition.
Having been left out against Ajax, Kean is expected back in the XI this weekend and will be looking to find the back of the net for the fourth Serie A game in a row.
There will be no Coppa Italia crown this season following their shock 3-0 defeat to Atalanta at the end of January, but a Serie A and Champions League double would be seen as a fine campaign for the Old Lady, who could be looking for a new manager this summer with Allegri tipped to depart at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.
Recent form: WWLWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WLWWWD
Andrea Petagna was only a substitute against Cagliari last weekend, but the Italian is expected to join captain Mirco Antenucci in the final third, with Mohamed Fares also featuring for the hosts in an attacking position.
As for Juve, Ronaldo made his return from injury against Ajax on Wednesday night, but it seems unlikely that the Portugal international will be included this weekend.
Daniele Rugani could once again feature with Giorgio Chiellini still struggling with an injury, while as mentioned above, Kean should be given the nod at centre-forward with Mario Mandzukic dropping out.
SPAL possible starting lineup:
Viviano; Cionek, Vicari, Bonifazi; Lazzari, Schiattarella, Missiroli, Kurtic, Fares; Antenucci, Petagna
Juventus possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; De Sciglio, Bonucci, Rugani, Sandro; Bentancur, Pjanic, Khedira; Dybala, Kean, Costa
Head To Head
SPAL have only beaten Juve on one occasion in 35 top-flight meetings – a 3-1 success in February 1957. The other 34 clashes have brought 22 defeats and 12 draws.
As mentioned, the Old Lady ran out 2-0 winners in the reverse match earlier this season, but the champions were held to a goalless draw when they travelled to SPAL last term.
We say: SPAL 1-2 Juventus
SPAL have been in good form in recent weeks, but Juve will have a number of players looking to prove a point and we fancy the Italian champions to secure the win, landing yet another title in the process.