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Lecce vs. Juventus match preview: Time, TV schedule, and how to watch the Serie A

As Inter hangs out in Saudi Arabia for the extended weekend, Juve have the chance to go top of the table with another win during an impressive start to 2024.

Juventus v US Lecce - Serie A TIM Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

It was one of the December podcast recordings in which the topic of the schedule came up. Juventus had just won — because that’s what they’ve been doing a lot this season — and after a string of big games over the previous eight weeks, the schedule was going to let up and allow Max Allegri’s squad to potentially build up a nice head of steam going into a massive first weekend of February in Milan.

As we hit the third weekend of January, it’s pretty safe to say that Juve have taken advantage of the favorable schedule — and then some.

The schedule easing up a little bit simply in terms of the competition level from the opposition has paid dividends for Allegri and Juve to begin 2024. Between Serie A and the Coppa Italia, Juve have played four games so far in January and the results speak for themselves: four wins, 15 goals scored, only two goals allowed and a whole lot of positive energy after a first half of the season where tight, one-goal wins became the norm. While those four wins came against teams sitting either in the relegation zone or right above it, it’s not like things are suddenly changing on that front this weekend, with Juventus heading over to the Stadio Via del Mare to face a Lecce squad that enters Sunday night’s game in 14th place and just four points out of the relegation zone.

There’s also this very important piece to the puzzle: As Inter gets set to play for the Supercoppa on Monday night in Saudi Arabia, a win over Lecce would send Juventus into first place as their arch-rival from Milan tries to capture their first trophy of the season.

With another relegation battler in the form of Empoli on the schedule next week, two wins to finish out January and Juve heads into that showdown with Inter atop the Serie A table.

But, of course, actually having that lead involves taking care of business the next seven days.

Much like Salernitana, Frosinone and Sassuolo before them, Lecce are not exactly entering their meeting with Juventus in the best of form. They’ve lost three of their last four games and have only scored one goal over that span. (The losses, for the record, have been to Inter, Atalanta and Lazio and away from home, so it’s not like their schedule of late has been all that easy.) Allegri was quick to note during his pre-match press conference that Lecce, while sitting in 14th, have been a side that picked up a result in their last four home games, so it’s not like they’ve been totally wasteful over the last month and a half.

It. may sound redundant at this point, but this is very much the same kind of message as the last month or so: Juventus can’t afford to let this opportunity be the one where they slip up. And that’s especially true now considering the showdown at the San Siro is now all of two weeks away. You can see it there, off in the distance, but it’s still a little bit fuzzy because there’s two stops still to go to along the way before you get there.

The theme of 2024 so far has been the fact that Juve have played bad teams, teams out of form or both, and completely beaten them in the fashion that you had hoped they would. That needs to be the theme of the next two weeks, too, or else the chance to get the upperhand over Inter heading into a big way to start February will go awry.

This Juve team has taken care of business almost every time they’ve taken the field this season. The end product has been a little more favorable lately compared to much of the first half of the 2023-24 campaign, but the unbeaten run is getting closer and closer to 20 games — and that’s simply a beautiful thing.

TEAM NEWS

  • The two suspended midfielders, Paul Pogba and Nicolo Fagioli are still suspended.
  • The two injured players who have been out for weeks (or much longer than that), Mattia De Sciglio and Moise Kean, are still out injured.
  • Also out injured are two of Juventus’ most important players: Adrien Rabiot and Federico Chiesa. Rabiot will miss out on the trip to Lecce due to a calf strain while Chieaa’s ongoing knee issues continue to flare up and give him issues.
  • Weston McKennie and Federico Gatti are back in the squad after each serving a one-game ban on Tuesday for yellow card accumulation.
  • With Chiesa out, Allegri was not exactly helpful when saying who will start up front, stating “Two of Milik, Yildiz and Vlahovic will play.” Thanks for that heads up, Max.
  • Danilo is the only Juventus player who is a yellow card away from suspension.

JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH

No Rabiot, no party?

That hasn’t necessarily been the case lately. And it helps that this young man below has been playing about as he has all season. So let’s go ahead and talk about him.

Fabio Miretti of Juventus Fc gestures during the Coppa... Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

Yes, Fabio Miretti has been playing much better as of late. Maybe it’s the fact that he had a bit of a time on the bench to reset mentally and shake off a tough start to the season. Maybe it’s because he’s looking like a total badass these days while rocking the new Adidas Predator throwbacks. I don’t know. There’s only so much you can tell from so far away.

No matter what, though, with Rabiot dealing with injury issues over the last month or so — and maybe for the first time in a year or two? — the result has been Miretti getting a significant boost in minutes. Four of his last five appearances over the last month have been starts, and while I get that some of it has been out of necessity because there’s simply nobody else outside of Joseph Nonge available, Miretti has been taking advantage of the opportunity to suddenly play a whole lot more than he had been along the same lines of Kenan Yildiz.

Maybe not to the level of Yildiz because that’s an extremely high bar to try and match at the moment, but Juventus have been able to do some good things with Miretti in the lineup for Rabiot (and McKennie when he was suspended on Tuesday). Miretti’s involvement in the attacking phase has grown, his runs just seem to be more dangerous and impactful than they had been and, while still a problem at time, he just seems to be playing a little more composed and the decision making has been better as a result.

Fact is, Juve need Miretti to continue to answer the bell while injuries and suspensions are still happening. Doesn’t matter if it’s Rabiot out or somebody else — the depth in midfield is going to be an issue the rest of the season because of who is out for the long term. And the more he performs like he has been lately, the more it will make Juventus a better team.

MATCH INFO

When: Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024.

Where: Stadio Via del Mare, Lecce, Italy.

Official kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. in Italy and the Central European time zone, 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 2:45 p.m. Eastern time, 11:45 a.m. Pacific time.

HOW TO WATCH

Television: TLN (Canada); TNT Sports 1 (United Kingdom).

Online/Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); fuboTV Canada (Canada); discovery+, discovery+ app (United Kingdom); DAZN Italy, Sky Go Italia (Italy).

Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you haven’t already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.