It’s been 49 years since Juventus and SPAL last played one another in league action. I’m not expert on every single person who comments on this blog, but I’m guessing not a lot of — if any — were around during that game. (Crazy kids and nerds on the damn internet...)
I can’t say I’m some kind of expert on that game. Nor do I plan to be.
Juventus and SPAL will meet one another in Serie A play ever since that 3-1 Bianconeri win all the way back in 1968. It’s a team that has another round of title aspirations facing a team that wants to do nothing other than see the light of Serie A come the start of next season 10 months from now.
Let’s just go ahead and check in which both teams, shall we?
- Juventus has one win in the month of October.
- Spal has one win all season.
You want the definition of a team that’s basically been trying to avoid relegation from the opening kickoff of the 2017-18 season onward, it’s Juventus’ opposition on Wednesday. That’s SPAL. That’s the complete opposite of where Juve want to be in the league table come the end of the year.
We are now right in the middle of the October-November block of games. This midweek game doesn’t have nearly any of the prestige as compared to the one Juventus will playing come this weekend. And that’s even with Leonardo Bonucci suspended for a pair of games because he likes to throw some elbows.
Juventus vs. SPAL is the classic top-of-the-table vs. bottom-of-the-table kind of game that we see a few times a season. It’s October, sure, but I don’t think that anybody is thinking that a SPAL team that has just five points through their first nine games is suddenly going to become a mid-table threat and put relegation in the rear view mirror.
What am I trying to get at here?
Well, let’s see here...
Anything other than a comfortable win and three points in the bag shouldn’t be the goal. Statistically, SPAL aren’t as poor defensively as Udinese, but that doesn’t really matter here. Juventus want to continue to try and close the gap between themselves and the likes of Napoii and Inter, then there’s no other option here than to win.
So, win. There, I said it. It’ll be 49 years in the making ... or something like that.
WIth Mario Mandzukic being suspended, I guess all of the yelling at referees will be up to Stephan Lichtsteiner to take care of against SPAL. Not that he isn’t up for it, but it’s been a little while since we didn’t have a Juventus starting lineup that didn’t involve everybody’s favorite grumpy Croatian striker-turned-winger.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1) Let the squad rotation commence, my friends.
Let’s be honest, there is only one thing to pay attention to against SPAL and that has to do with the fact that there will be some squad rotation happening. Max Allegri has already stated that Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini won’t play, meaning that we get to see Wojciech Szczesny and Daniele Rugani (!!!) will almost certainly be two of the names in the defensive half of the starting lineup.
This is only natural when you’re about to play a relegation battler and in the midst of a stretch of games within the span of seven or eight days. Throw in Mandzukic’s suspension after his pair of yellow cards against Udinese that maybe shouldn’t have been yellow cards and there’s plenty of reasons to do a little bit of squad rotation.
Which brings us to this little talking point. And also brings us to this...
A front four of Bernardeschi-Dybala-Costa-Higuain backed by Bentancur and Pjanic?
Well, hello there, beautiful starting lineup with oh so much potential. I think I like you.
Getting Bernardeschi a start will be huge. Getting Douglas Costa a start will be huge. Seeing Rugani in the starting lineup for the second time in four days will be about as welcome of a sight as we’ve had this season.
Basically, when it comes to starting lineups that involved squad rotation that Allegri can throw out there against a relegation battler like SPAL, it can’t really get a lot better than the one we see above.
Juventus don’t need a 100 percent, full-strength squad to beat SPAL on Wednesday night. Hell, for how much SPAL has struggled in front of goal this season, one or two goals very well may do the trick and that will be that.
But if you get Bernardeschi and Costa on the wings serving up dimes to Dybala and Higuain, then maybe there won’t be just one or two goals scored. Not that six goals every game is mandatory following this weekend’s result, but I ain’t objecting to it.
MY STARTING XI
Juventus XI (4-2-3-1): Wojciech Szczesny; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Andrea Barzagli, Daniele Rugani, Kwadwo Asamoah; Rodrigo Bentancur, Sami Khedira; Federico Bernardeschi, Paulo Dybala, Douglas Costa; Gonzalo Higuain
Location: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy
Kick-off time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy; 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 2:45 p.m. on the East Coast; 11:45 a.m. on the West Coast
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