Defending Serie A champions Juventus take on SPAL at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday, hoping to continue their unbeaten start to the campaign and open up a nine-point lead at the top of the table.
Massimiliano Allegri’s men are hoping to win a fourth consecutive league match since their 1-1 draw with Genoa, which ended an eight-game winning run in the league. They face a SPAL side who sit 15th in Serie A and are winless in their last three matches.
3. Goalkeepers and Defenders
Wojciech Szczęsny (GK): The Polish goalkeeper has played all but one match this campaign for the Bianconeri, keeping seven clean sheets in 15 appearances in all competitions, including four in XI Serie A games.
João Cancelo (RB): The full-back has made 12 appearances in all competitions since joining in the summer. When he has started, he has helped to keep six clean sheets. He was in action for Portugal during the international break and kept a clean sheet against the Italians at the San Siro, the same stadium where he last kept a clean sheet in the league against Milan.
Leonardo Bonucci (CB): Although Bonucci might be a terrific defender, he has also proved to be a threat in the opposing penalty area. He has contributed to four goals in 14 appearances this season, three of which have come in the Champions League. Bonucci has kept six clean sheets when he has started for the Bianconeri and will be pivotal in preventing SPAL from scoring for the fourth consecutive time away from home.
Giorgio Chiellini (CB): The veteran Italian has been a terrific servant for club and country. He recently made his 100th appearance for the Azzurri and could go fifth in the all-time list for Juventus appearances on 483 if he plays against SPAL. He has played the entirety of every match he has started, and has helped his side keep six clean sheets.
Alex Sandro (LB): The Brazilian has started 14 of Juventus’ 16 games this season, providing two assists. He possesses great pace and trickery going forward and makes fine recovery challenges when the side are under-attack. He is one of the side’s most reliable players on the left side of defence and has helped to keep seven clean sheets.
Rodrigo Bentancur (CM): Sami Khedira’s ankle injury means that Bentancur may well deputise in his absence again. The Uruguayan has started in each of the Bianconeri’s last seven matches, playing the entire 90 each time and scoring once and contributing to two goals.
Miralem Pjanić (CDM): The Bosnian suffered a muscular injury while on international duty but should be fit to face SPAL on Saturday. The midfielder is excellent on the ball, rarely loses possession and has great vision. He has three goals and one assist to his name in 14 appearances in all competitions.
Blaise Matuidi (CM): The Frenchman is becoming a real fan favourite at the Turin side. He has featured in all but one match and has failed to start just three matches in all competitions. He is another reliable player at the side and knows how to keep the ball and get it into offensive areas.
Paulo Dybala (RW): Dybala is enjoying a terrific season. He has already contributed to seven goals in 14 appearances, scoring six of them (five of which at the Allianz Stadium). The Argentine took his fine run of form onto the international stage, recently providing an assist and netting his first senior goal in two separate fixtures against Mexico.
Mario Mandžukić (ST): Mandžukić may have missed three games as a result of an ankle injury but he returned to league action with a goal against Milan at the San Siro. He has been involved in seven goals in nine league matches this season (scoring five and assisting two). He missed the fixture against SPAL at the Allianz Stadium last season due to a suspension and will be hoping to make his mark against the side on Saturday.
Cristiano Ronaldo (LW): Ronaldo is Juventus’ top-scorer this campaign with eight goals in 12 league appearances. He has contributed to 15 goals in as many games in all competitions, and has been involved in a goal in each league match since Juventus’ victory over Sassuolo (13 goals in his last nine league appearances). He is just one goal behind Genoa’s Krzysztof Piątek at the top of the league’s scoring charts, and the Portuguese could equal the Polish striker’s tally with a strike against SPAL.