Following successive Serie A draws, Juventus return to action on Wednesday evening, as they host Spezia in Turin.
Held at home by Roma on Saturday, the Bianconeri have taken five points from three games as they begin their quest to regain the Scudetto after two fallow years, while their visitors are just a point behind after drawing 2-2 with Sassuolo.
Needing a fast start after their disjointed showing in a grim goalless draw with Sampdoria five days earlier, Juventus began Saturday’s clash with likely top-four rivals Roma in the best possible manner.
Dusan Vlahovic thundered home a ferocious free kick to give Juve the lead after just one minute and 16 seconds – the fastest such strike in Serie A since records started 18 years ago – and the hosts seemed well on their way to victory.
When Manuel Locatelli then fired in a second, under-fire coach Max Allegri would have breathed a deep sigh of relief, but the VAR subsequently ruled the Italy midfielder’s strike out for a Vlahovic handball. After Tammy Abraham then turned in a second-half equaliser, the game was destined for a 1-1 draw.
With big-name summer signings Angel Di Maria and Paul Pogba not available to inspire them due to injury, the Bianconeri have been unimpressive since the opening day, but with some tough fixtures ahead, they must surely target Wednesday’s home match for maximum points.
Facing Fiorentina in Serie A at the weekend, and then visiting Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, Juve first need to step up their efforts at the Allianz Stadium.
Allegri led his side to 35 points on home soil last term – including three taken from Spezia in March – but that was only Serie A’s seventh-best total; not sufficient for a title challenge by any stretch of the imagination.
Tackling their third top-flight campaign under a third different head coach, Spezia have made their brightest start to a Serie A season so far – with four points from their opening three games.
Appointed as Thiago Motta’s successor in the summer, Luca Gotti has steered his new side to that tally by way of an opening day win over Empoli and Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Sassuolo.
Thumped 3-0 by Inter in-between, the Aquilotti certainly did not benefit from a kind fixture list when the schedule was published for the current campaign, as not only have they had to travel to San Siro and now visit Turin, they must play Napoli and Lazio in their next two road games.
Therefore, making the most of home advantage has been paramount, so after battling back from behind to lead Sassuolo at the interval, Gotti will have been frustrated that his team failed to secure another victory at Stadio Alberto Picco by conceding early in the second half.
Like Juventus, Spezia posted identical win-draw-loss records at home and away last term, but having suffered defeat in all four meetings with their fellow Bianconeri since promotion, matching them at the Allianz Stadium will be a tough task.
Juventus Serie A form:
Juventus form (all competitions):
Spezia Serie A form:
Spezia form (all competitions):
We say: Juventus 1-0 Spezia
Though their squad feels particularly thin due to injuries, Juventus can continue their supremacy in this match-up of Serie A royalty with provincial hopefuls. It may not be pretty to watch, but the hosts have enough individual quality to decide the game in their favour.