MX23RW : Friday, April 23 04:01:46| >> :120:33238:33238:
Mar 2, 2021 at 7.45pm UK at Juventus Stadium
Morata (62'), Chiesa (71'), Ronaldo (89')
Frabotta (10'), Demiral (90')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Juventus vs. Spezia - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Serie A clash between Juventus and Spezia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

With their Scudetto defence continuing to falter, Juventus host overachieving Spezia on Tuesday evening, sorely in need of maximum points to stay in contention for a tenth consecutive title.

Andrea Pirlo's side are still adrift of the league-leading Milan clubs after a draw in Verona at the weekend, while their Bianconeri counterparts staged a second-half fightback to salvage a point against Parma.

Match preview

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo pictured on January 24, 2021© Reuters

Furthering their recent decline, which comes after a previously impressive start to 2021, Juventus were fortunate to escape with a 1-1 draw versus Verona on Saturday, as Cristiano Ronaldo's 19th league goal of the season was cancelled out by Antonin Barak's 77th-minute header. The hosts struck the frame of the goal twice during the game, with Wojciech Szczesny coming to the rescue for Juve, as he pushed a powerful Darko Lazovic strike onto the bar late on.

Out-fought and out-thought in losses to both Napoli and Porto in the past fortnight, Juventus had got back on track with a regulation win against Calabrian minnows Crotone in their previous outing, as top-scoring talisman Ronaldo struck yet another brace for the champions - his seventh in Serie A so far. However, frustration was etched across the Portuguese icon's face when Verona deservedly equalised at the Bentegodi, as if he could sense the Scudetto slipping away.

With potentially definitive fixtures against Lazio and then Porto - as Juve seek to turn around a 2-1 deficit in the Champions League - to come in the next few days, under-pressure coach Andrea Pirlo will be acutely aware that there can be no excuses for failing to defeat modest Spezia in midweek.

Even though the visitors' debut campaign at the elite level has exceeded all expectations - particularly in the unforgettable victories over Napoli and Milan - and Pirlo has several injury concerns to contend with, the legendary playmaker of Juventus teams past must ensure his side secure the right result. As they have been tough to beat on home soil this season - with eight wins and just one loss in 11 league contests at the Allianz Stadium - they should have every chance of doing so, despite the circumstances.

An increasingly tetchy Pirlo blamed his team's "inexperience" in Veneto last time out, with Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Juan Cuadrado among those missing, so will again rely heavily on the ageless Ronaldo - who notched one of his doubles in the reverse fixture, when Juventus triumphed 4-1 - to lead from the front.

Spezia coach Vincenzo Italiano on February 13, 2021© Reuters

Curiously, despite the enormous gulf in stature between the two clubs, Spezia may prefer to tackle their fellow Bianconeri outfit on Tuesday rather than one of Serie A's also-rans.

Following their 2-2 draw with relegation-haunted Parma on Saturday, Vincenzo Italiano's spirited side remain the only club to have picked up more points against teams in the top half of the table than the bottom. Notwithstanding a 3-0 reverse to Fiorentina at Stadio Artemio Franchi last time they hit the road, the Aquilotti's away record is also better than on home turf.

In La Spezia last weekend, Italiano's men had to battle back from two goals down to rescue a draw thanks to an Emmanuel Gyasi brace, keeping the Ligurians well clear of the trapdoor back to Serie B.

With their most prolific player M'Bala Nzola - on nine goals so far - returning from injury and a healthy supply of scorers now coming from elsewhere in the lineup, there appears every chance that Spezia can disprove the doubters and stay afloat come May.

Though they can feasibly feel confident that their first-ever top-flight campaign will result in a second shot at the big time next term, their cautious coach - in terms of words, if not playing style - has warned that the battle is far from won.

Twice relegated as a player having posted 39 points, Italiano suggests that Spezia are certainly not guaranteed safety with their current 25-point tally - though the former Verona midfielder will more likely be targeting crucial upcoming fixtures with Benevento and Cagliari than this glamorous encounter in Turin to add to that haul.

Juventus Serie A form: WWWLWD
Juventus form (all competitions): WDLLWD

Spezia Serie A form: LLWWLD
Spezia form (all competitions): LLWWLD

Team News

Paulo Dybala in action for Juventus on January 3, 2021© Reuters

Injury-plagued Paulo Dybala remains out of action for the hosts with an ongoing knee ligament issue, having flown to Barcelona to visit a specialist last week. The forward's absence is just the tip of the iceberg for Juventus, as Andrea Pirlo's defensive emergency continues.

Mainstays Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Juan Cuadrado are all expected to miss out again due to injury, though full-back Danilo returns from suspension and should come into the back three providing Pirlo decides against reverting to a four-man defence, in which case makeshift wing-back Federico Bernardeschi would drop out.

Despite a lack of goals, Dejan Kulusevski should continue to support Cristiano Ronaldo up front, as Dybala will not return for some time yet and Alvaro Morata is still suffering from the effects of an intestinal illness. Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey is under pressure from Weston McKennie to keep his place in midfield, with former Barcelona man Arthur remaining doubtful.

Visiting coach Vincenzo Italiano welcomed top scorer M'Bala Nzola back versus Parma, after more than a month's absence, so the powerful front man should be set to regain his starting spot, with 'false nine' Kevin Agudelo making way or perhaps switching to the flank.

Tommaso Pobega will compete with current incumbent Nahuel Estevez for one of Spezia's three midfield slots - if the Milan loanee can return to fitness in time - though Riccardo Marchizza, Juan Ramos and Federico Mattiello all missed out at the weekend and may not be ready to return yet.

Juventus possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; Danilo, Demiral, de Ligt; Chiesa, Bentancur, Rabiot, Ramsey, Bernardeschi; Kulusevski, Ronaldo

Spezia possible starting lineup:
Provedel; Vignali, Terzi, Erlic, Bastoni; Estevez, Agoume, Maggiore; Farias, Nzola, Gyasi

SM words green background

We say: Juventus 2-0 Spezia

The plucky visitors may have a good track record against the bigger boys this term, but their progressive approach is likely to come unstuck against Juventus, as the home side are particularly unimpeachable on Turin turf.

With Aaron Ramsey overdue a telling contribution and Federico Chiesa continuing to offer a flicker of hope, some of the champions' supporting cast can step up to lift a little weight off Cristiano Ronaldo's broad shoulders.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

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Paulo Dybala in action for Juventus on January 3, 2021
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