17th-placed Juventus will hope that the return of several key players from injury and the arrival of promising new signings will be enough to pull off an upset on Saturday night at home against in-form league leaders Chievo Verona. Wait, what?
The first few weeks of any season are always good for a few laughs at the expense of the league table. With so few points yet handed out, the opportunity is always there for a tiny provincial side to win a game or two and rocket to the top of the rankings, while the big name champions can have a slow start and find themselves embarrassed in oblivion among the relegation candidates. This year has brought us a particularly striking example: Chievo Verona, who finished last season in 14th place, currently occupy the top spot after a solid victory against Empoli and an absolutely whompingly huge one against Lazio. Meanwhile Juventus, four-time defending title holders and Champions League runners-up, are struggling to find their form and currently hovering sadly just above the drop zone, kept out of that particular circle of inferno only by Paulo Dybala’s late goal against Roma two weeks ago. The usual narrative we’ve all come to expect over the past few years has been flipped: salutate la capolista – as they come pay a visit to Juventus Stadium.
Probable starting formations:
Juventus (4-3-1-2): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Barzagli, Alex Sandro; Sturaro, Marchisio, Pogba; Hernanes; Dybala, Morata.
Manager Max Allegri switches back to his preferred tactical scheme after an embarrassing start to the season using a 3-5-2 preferred by his predecessor. Claudio Marchisio and Alvaro Morata rejoin the squad after missing out on the beginning of the year due to injuries sustained in preseason, and new signings Alex Sandro and Hernanes are predicted to both make their debuts from the start.
The Flying Donkeys field a virtually unchanged lineup from their demolition of Lazio two weeks ago, and will be hoping their excellent form continues into another historic upset. Meggiorini and Paloschi in a classical prima-seconda punta striker pair will be hoping to find the same chemistry they did against the Romans, this time with the legendary Gigi Buffon to put their shots past. Former Juventus player Simone Pepe starts from the bench, as does Juventus loanee Federico Mattiello in his first match back after suffering a horrific leg fracture last spring.
Goals on both ends, but Juventus to bring home three overdue points.