Massimiliano Allegri will be without eight first-teamers for Saturday’s Serie A trip to Empoli due to various injuries.
Juventus’ crisis on this front worsened in the week after both Alex Sandro and Weston McKennie were forced off in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie. It was later revealed that McKennie had suffered a foot fracture and he was quickly joined on the long-term absentee list by Kaio Jorge, who picked up a devastating knee injury while playing for the Under-23s on Wednesday.
The likes of Paulo Dybala, Federico Bernardeschi, Giorgio Chiellini and Daniele Rugani remain sidelined, with youth trio Fabio Miretti, Marley Ake and Matias Soule earning call-ups to Saturday’s matchday squad.
Juventus’ predicted XI vs Empoli
Here’s the starting XI we think Allegri will pick for the visit to Empoli.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Wojciech Szczesny (GK) – A shoo-in. He’ll be looking for this first clean sheet since the Hellas Verona triumph in this one.
Danilo (RB) – Danilo missed Juve’s last league outing due to suspension but he returned during the week in Europe. The Brazilian is poised to start at right-back on Saturday after being utilised at right centre-back against Villarreal.
Leonardo Bonucci (CB) – Allegri was cautious over the fitness of Bonucci on Saturday, but his presence in the backline is a necessity with the manager’s options slim. The Italian was forced to play 45 minutes in Spain on Tuesday as a result of Alex Sandro’s injury.
Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – The Dutchman was certainly partly to blame for Dani Parejo’s equaliser in the week, but De Ligt’s positional error was a rare blip amid an outstanding campaign. He’ll keep his place in the starting XI for this one.
Luca Pellegrini (LB) – Pellegrini has been thrust to the backbenches in 2022 after a promising end to 2021. However, Alex Sandro’s injury combined with Mattia De Sciglio’s troubles against Samuel Chukwueze on Tuesday night should see the dynamic Italian earn a rare start against Empoli.
Arthur Melo (CM) – The Brazilian just can’t build any momentum in Bianconeri colours. After starting back-to-back games to start the month, Arthur has racked up a total of 39 minutes in Juve’s last three outings. Let’s hope he returns to the team on Saturday following Adrien Rabiot’s woeful end to Tuesday’s draw with Villarreal.
Manuel Locatelli (CM) – Let let him off the leash, Max! Hopefully, the deployment of Arthur facilitates the unlocking of Locatelli on Saturday. Allegri has been reluctant to deploy the pair together this season, but they’ve shown in their fleeting appearances together that they could establish a healthy dynamic in Juve’s midfield.
Denis Zakaria (CM) – Zakaria has impressed since joining the club and he should return to the starting XI on Saturday after dropping to the bench against Villarreal. The Swiss midfielder boasts the requisite technical security to aid Juve’s build-up in the face of Empoli pressure.
Juan Cuadrado (RW) – While youngsters Ake and Soule have made Saturday’s matchday squad, neither is expected to start. Although, it’d be great to see them get some minutes. Nevertheless, should Allegri go 4-3-3, Cuadrado is best suited to replacing Paulo Dybala on the right flank.
Dusan Vlahovic (ST) – Vlahovic barely got a sniff against Villarreal after making Champions League history. Nevertheless, his few touches were of the highest quality and he should have success against one of the league’s worst defences on Saturday if Allegri unleashes the Old Lady.
Moise Kean (LW) – Despite Gianluca Di Marzio’s projection, we’re backing Kean to make just his second start of 2022. The boss hinted in his pre-match presser of the forward’s deployment from the outset.