Massimiliano Allegri will have to work with what he’s got on Saturday as his Juventus side visit Lazio and a vengeful Maurizio Sarri in Serie A.
The international break hasn’t been kind to the Bianconeri, with Paulo Dybala and Federico Bernardeschi both picking up knocks while representing their respective national teams. While tests on Thursday revealed that Dybala hasn’t picked up a muscular injury in his left calf, the club have decided to leave La Joya at home for Matchday 13 with a crunch week ahead.
Aaron Ramsey is also out after starring for Wales, while Giorgio Chiellini and Mattia De Sciglio are continuing their recoveries at Continassa.
So, while Allegri isn’t exactly hamstrung as he has been before and still has the players at his disposal to beat an albeit improving Biancocolesti outfit, the injury situation is far from ideal.
Here’s the team we think the Juventus boss will select for Saturday evening’s fixture in Rome.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Wojciech Szczesny (GK) – There’s no doubts here. Szczesny will start between the sticks on Saturday after missing the Fiorentina victory.
Danilo (RB) – Lazio’s impressive wing play means we’ll have to see the most diligent of Danilo performances in this one. The tendency of Sarri’s wingers to drift infield and thus open up space for surging full-backs means the Brazilian’s intangibles will be put to the test. However, he’s passed almost every assignment with flying colours this term.
Leonardo Bonucci (CB) – The two centre-backs pick themselves with Chiellini out and Daniele Rugani the firm outsider. No player has registered more Serie A minutes for Juventus than Bonucci, who’ll skipper the side at the Olimpico, this season.
Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – Partnering Bonucci is De Ligt, who has often been rested by Allegri in the wake of international breaks this term. However, on this occasion, the Juve boss has little choice but to start the Dutchman against Lazio. The young defender is quietly enjoying a great season.
Alex Sandro (LB) – The Brazilian’s spot will be under threat once De Sciglio returns to the fold, but for now, his place is secure with Luca Pellegrini yet to garner the trust of Allegri. With the asymmetric 4-4-2 likely to be retained, we must see an assertive Alex Sandro in possession on Saturday.
Federico Chiesa (RM) – Chiesa is an option for Allegri in the front two, but the Italian is expected to be utilised from a wide position. We certainly haven’t seen the very best of the 24-year-old this term, but Juventus will need him on Saturday in the absence of their creator-in-chief.
Manuel Locatelli (CM) – Locatelli didn’t enjoy the best of breaks with the Azzurri, so let’s hope he returns to his finest iteration this weekend. With Lazio boasting the likes of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto from ‘free eight’/mezzala roles, the Italian’s set to have his work cut out in this one. He’ll need to be at his astute best.
Weston McKennie (CM) – I’m really enjoying this McKennie purple patch. Following a poor start to the campaign, the American has burst into life over the past month with his stellar form continuing over the international break as he scored for the USA in their victory over Mexico. McKennie’s energy out of possession, savvy off the ball movement and newfound productivity in the final third could be key for Juventus on Saturday.
Adrien Rabiot (LM) – Dread from it, run from it, but Adrien Rabiot is inevitable, folks. After being chastised by Juventini for his uninspiring displays before the international break, Bernardeschi’s injury all but confirms the Frenchman’s place in Saturday’s XI – from the dreaded hybrid role as well. Buckle up.
Dejan Kulusevski (SS) – It’ll be interesting to see how Allegri goes about mitigating the loss of Dybala. Previously, we’ve seen Chiesa used in the front two with Moise Kean, while Kulusevski has been used sparingly as well. Chiesa’s struggles up top (after the Chelsea game) should deter the manager from returning to that plan and I’m hopeful Kulusevski is given another chance to shine – even if this isn’t his favourite position.
Alvaro Morata (ST) – Let’s pray that his clutch strike against Sweden to seal Spain’s progression to Qatar 2022 will ignite a Morata renaissance in Turin. The striker hasn’t scored a Serie A goal since the 1-1 draw with AC Milan back in September. Moise Kean and Kaio Jorge are both knocking on the door.