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Preview: SPAL vs. Juventus - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: SPAL vs. Juventus - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between SPAL and Juventus, including team news and predicted lineups.
Sports Mole

Juventus will be looking to make it back-to-back Serie A victories when they travel to the division's bottom club SPAL on Saturday.

The Old Lady returned to the top of the table with a 2-0 success over Brescia last time out, while SPAL lost their fourth league game in succession to remain rooted to the bottom.

Match preview

SPAL finished 13th in Serie A last season, but there is no question that they are facing a huge battle to keep their status as a top-flight club for the 2019-20 campaign.

Indeed, a record of just four wins and three draws from 24 matches has left them bottom of the table with 15 points, some eight points from the safety of 17th position.

Luigi Di Biagio's side recorded an impressive 2-1 win over Atalanta BC on January 20 but have lost each of their last four in the league, including a 5-1 defeat at Lazio at the start of the month.

Having only scored 18 league goals all season, it is difficult to see how the team are going to escape the bottom three, particularly as they could be cut even further adrift by the end of the weekend.

Juve entered last weekend's clash with Brescia having lost to Napoli and Hellas Verona in two of their last three league matches; it was therefore vital that the Old Lady returned to winning ways and that was the case courtesy of goals from Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado.

The victory over Brescia, coupled with Lazio beating Inter Milan, meant that Juve ended the weekend top of the table. Lazio are actually now second in the table courtesy of their impressive win over Antonio Conte's side, with just three points separating the top three in the division.

Juve seemingly have a big battle on their hands this season to land another championship, but it would be fair to say that the Champions League is the competition that they really want to win. Maurizio Sarri's side will head to Lyon on February 26 for the first leg of their last-16 tie desperate for a good result.

The Old Lady then have two huge domestic fixtures at the start of March, first facing Inter in Serie A on the 1st before welcoming AC Milan for the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final three days later.

SPAL Serie A form: LWLLLL
SPAL form (all competitions): LWLLLL

Juventus Serie A form: WWLWLW
Juventus form (all competitions): WLWLDW

Team News

SPAL will be unable to call upon either Francesco Vicari or Bryan Dabo this weekend due to hamstring injuries, but the home side otherwise have a healthy squad ahead of the match.

There are unlikely to be too many changes from the side that lost at Lecce last time out, meaning that Andrea Petagna and Federico Di Francesco should start as the front two once again.

Juve, meanwhile, will be without the services of experienced defender Leonardo Bonucci through suspension, while Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira, Douglas Costa and Merih Demiral are all on the treatment table.

Giorgio Chiellini made his long-awaited return as a late substitute against Brescia, though, and the Italian could now be in line to start for the Old Lady this weekend. That said, it seems more probable that Daniele Rugani will start with Chiellini potentially coming off the bench once again.

Cristiano Ronaldo was rested against Brescia last time out but will return to the XI for this game, while Matthijs de Ligt is also expected to earn a recall for the Italian champions.

SPAL possible starting lineup:
Berisha; Cionek, Bonifazi, Zukanovic, Reca; Valdifiori, Missiroli, Valoti; Castro; Petagna, Di Francesco

Juventus possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; Cuadrado, De Ligt, Rugani, Sandro; Rabiot, Bentancur, Ramsey; Ronaldo, Higuain, Dybala

We say: SPAL 0-2 Juventus

Juve will be determined to keep hold of first spot in Serie A, and it is difficult to imagine SPAL pulling off a shock result this weekend; the Old Lady should have too much for the league's bottom side.

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