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Juventus vs. Lazio Preview: Round 21 — Chasing Lucky No. 13

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Paolo Bruno

You want to know how long it has been since Juventus last lost a game in Serie A? Well, I was 26 years old. I'm currently 27 years old. That's how long it been. Maybe I should add to all of this that my birthday was two days after Juventus imploded and lost 4-2 to Fiorentina in Florence — thanks for the nice present, guys — but who's really counting how specific the details are?

The fact remains that Juventus haven't lost a league game since the middle of October. To be exact, Juve last lost a Serie game on Oct. 20. That's over three months ago, ladies and gents, just in case you didn't feel like doing the quick math in your head.

I think it's safe to say the eight-point lead atop the league table has been pretty well earned.

Now, Juventus head back to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome for the second time in four days looking to do what they didn't accomplish against Roma in the Coppa Italia on Tuesday night — get a win. I'd say that's a pretty good idea regardless of what kind of shape Lazio is currently in. (Which is a little better under Edy Reja than the end of the Vladimir Petković era in Rome.)

Would you like to see Juve continue their winning ways over Lazio at the Olimpico? I know I would. And it would mean that 13 isn't such an unlucky number these days. Take that, superstition!

GOOD NEWS

Juventus winning streak update: 12 games, 34 goals scored, 4 goals allowed.

This has been a Juventus winning streak update.

BAD NEWS

Giorgio Chiellini, who picked up a yellow card in Juve's 4-2 win over Sampdoria last weekend, will miss tomorrow night's game against Lazio due to suspension. I hope he enjoys the weekend off and Angelo Ogbonna has his customary short shorts all set to go from the opening whistle.

Oh, and Marco Motta is no longer available for selection following his loan move to Genoa on Thursday.

Okay, so that second part isn't bad news. As you were.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

1. Who will be Juventus' regista, Andrea Pirlo or Claudio Marchisio?

Marchisio's last start in the center of Juventus' midfield: Pretty darn successful.

Pirlo last start in the center of Juventus' midfield: Not very successful.

Two games, two very different outcomes — and not just on the scoreboard. Extra rest didn't do Pirlo any kind of good in the Coppa Italia loss to Roma as our favorite bearded maestro didn't exactly do much of anything. Marchisio, on the other hand, was solid as all can be against Sampdoria last Sunday. Does Antonio Conte go with Old Faithful or Il Principino? I really have no clue. He's not that shortsighted where he would basically sit Pirlo just because of what Marchisio did against Sampdoria. But if playing Marchisio as a regista during both weekend fixtures so that Pirlo would be rested for the Coppa Italia, then that isn't a bad thing at all.

2. The impact of one Fernando Llorente.

I'm a superstitious man, okay. But there's also something behind this, so stick with me. Much like Sampdoria, Lazio are facing something different in Juventus compared to the first time this season. They're facing a Juventus team with Llorente playing from the opening whistle, not Mirko Vucinic like was the case in Round 2 and the Supercoppa. And not just Llorente, but a player who has been really, really good the past couple of games. He's scoring goals again and just contributing to just about everything Juve has done lately to put the winning streak on the cusp of hitting the teens.

3. The contribution coming from Juventus' wingbacks.

Unlike who will be playing in the center of the midfield, there's no doubt who Conte will be writing in as starters on the right and left wing. Stephan Lichtsteiner is going to be on the right, Kwadwo Asamoah will be on the left. It's as simple as simple gets, really. If those two gentlemen play as close to as they have been in recent weeks, then I'm going to just declare right here that Juve will be in pretty good shape against Lazio. Lichtsteiner has been one of Juventus' best players since Serie A got underway again in 2014. Asamoah has been quite good lately, too. No wonder they're playing on a team that has won 12 straight games. Feel free to continue the personal and team success, gentlemen.

4. Can Juventus take advantage of Lazio being shorthanded?

WhoScored doesn't waste time getting to what what Lazio will have to overcome against Juventus tomorrow night.

Edi Reja will be without a number of players due to injury and suspensions.

In total, WhoScored lists eight players who will be missing out on Juventus' visit to the Olimpico. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Mr. Reja would prefer to have things a little bit differently. Regardless of how many players may or may not be missing from Lazio's lineup, many feel like it will a tough match for the two-time defending Italian champions. I mean, if WhoScored says so, then it must be true, right?

5. How the Juventus defense handles the Lazio attacking trident of Antonio Candreva, Hernanes and Miroslav Klose.

I like Antonio Candreva. I liked him when he was on loan at Juve and I haven't changed my opinion of him with what he's done during his time at Lazio. The same can basically be said for Hernanes, even though he hasn't been close to the kind of form when he first joined Lazio a couple years ago. We also know how good Klose can be when he's full guns blazing. Juventus' defense hasn't been so dominant lately as it was when the current winning streak got started. And I feel safe in saying that the Lazio attack is a little tougher than that of a club like, say, Livorno.

My starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Ogbonna; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Marchisio, Pogba, Asamoah; Llorente, Tevez

OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 8:45 P.M. IN ITALY; 2:45 P.M. ON THE EAST COAST; 11:45 A.M. ON THE WEST COAST