Juventus take on Lazio in Serie A’s standout fixture this weekend. The reigning champions find themselves an extraordinary ten points behind the league leaders Inter and as such, their period of dominance looks as though it’s on the verge of coming to an abrupt end.
The Turin-based giants have been crowned champions of Italy nine times in a row but under the inexperienced Andrea Pirlo they’ve looked a shadow of the formidable outfit they once were.
Lazio are also experiencing a difficult campaign. Last season, Simone Inzaghi’s side finished just five points behind the leaders – securing UEFA Champions League qualification. However, they’ve been disappointingly inconsistent this season, and as a result find themselves in seventh place.
In the reverse fixture, Felipe Caicedo equalised deep into stoppage time to earn Lazio a point after Cristiano Ronaldo put Juventus in front. The two sides are currently separated in the table by six points and with both hoping to secure a place in the top four, this fixture could prove significant.
When? Saturday 6 March
What time is kick-off? 7:45pm
Where is it being played? Allianz Stadium
TV Channel: Premier Sports (UK)
Referee: Davide Massa
Andrea Pirlo will be without Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Juan Cuadrado are both doubts and Gianluca Frabotta is suspended. Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt is due to return after missing Tuesday’s win over Spezia. Paulo Dybala and Arthur are likely to miss out through injury.
Lazio will be without Manuel Lazzari, who is suffering from a calf issue, and there is no sign of Luiz Felipe or Stefan Radu returning in time for Saturday’s fixture. Gonzalo Escalante returns from a ban but is unlikely to start.
Juventus: Szczesny; Danilo, Demiral, De Ligt, Sandro; Chiesa, Bentancur, Rabiot, McKennie; Kulusevski, Ronaldo.
Lazio: Reina; Patric, Parolo, Acerbi; Marusic, Milinkovic-Savic, Leiva, Alberto, Lulic; Correa, Immobile.
Juventus 3-0 Spezia – Serie A – 2/3/21
Verona 1-1 Juventus – Serie A – 27/2/21
Juventus 3-0 Crotone – Serie A – 22/2/21
FC Porto 2-1 Juventus – Champions League – 17/2/21
Napoli 1-0 Juventus – Serie A – 13/2/21
Bologna 2-0 Lazio – Serie A – 27/2/21
Lazio 1-4 Bayern Munich – Champions League – 23/2/21
Lazio 1-0 Sampdoria – Serie A – 20/2/21
Inter 3-1 Lazio – Serie A – 14/2/21
Lazio 1-0 Cagliari – Serie A – 7/2/21
Juventus are extremely strong at home and under normal circumstances they’d be heavy favourites, but their upcoming Champions League tie with Porto could prove a distraction. Andrea Pirlo’s side, for all their issues this season, have won their last six home league fixtures and so it would be foolish to rule them out of making it seven this weekend.
When Lazio recently travelled to Inter, they opted to try and play on the front foot from the start rather than looking to keep things tight in the early stages – a decision Simone Inzaghi was criticised for. Having perhaps learned their lesson just a few weeks ago, it will be interesting to see if the visitors are a little more conservative in their approach this weekend.
You can expect a cagey encounter in which Juventus’ superior quality should see them over the line.
Prediction: Juventus 2-0 Lazio