Serie A leaders Juventus visit the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara to face 18th-placed Bologna in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 on Saturday.
The encounter will be both sides’ first fixture of the calendar year and the Bianconeri, who are unbeaten in their domestic campaign, are seeking to win the competition for the fifth successive season.
Here’s the potential lineup Massimiliano Allegri could select for Saturday’s encounter.
3. Goalkeepers and Defenders
Wojciech Szczęsny (GK): The Polish goalkeeper is usually the Bianconeri’s number one. He may have missed the last match against Sampdoria, but he has helped to keep 11 clean sheets in 21 appearances in all competitions, including seven in 15 Serie A games. La Vecchia Signora went the whole of their last Coppa Italia campaign without conceding and if they are to continue that streak, the former Roma and Arsenal stopper is their best hope, having kept two in his last two competition appearances.
Mattia De Sciglio (RB): With the injury to usual right-back João Cancelo, the Italian has proved to be an ample replacement. He has made 11 appearances in all competitions this campaign and has helped to keep five clean sheets in his last seven league games, as well as providing the assist for the winner against Roma.
Leonardo Bonucci (CB): Bonucci is a phenomenal defender. He provides stability at the heart of defence and works well alongside the experienced Giorgio Chiellini. He did look slightly suspect in his last match against Atalanta, but helping to keep 12 clean sheets in 22 appearances overall, speaks volumes of his quality.
Giorgio Chiellini (CB): The veteran Italian understandably doesn’t play as many games as he used to, but he still commands his defence. His experience is pivotal for Juve, especially when they find themselves in uncommon situations, such as falling behind. He is a natural leader and despite his age, he will manage to get up against the quickest of players and win the ball back.
Alex Sandro (LB): Sandro tends to feature in every game, but has missed two matches this campaign through injury. He has great pace and manages to play almost as a winger at times, sending dangerous deliveries with his wand of a left foot. He also does his fair share of defensive duties, managing to get back and make key challenges, when his side are under-attack.
Rodrigo Bentancur (CM): Bentancur may well return to action following his suspension against Sampdoria, after receiving two yellow cards against Atalanta. The Uruguayan has been suspended twice this campaign, the first as a result of an accumulation of bookings, as well as the two he received against La Dea. The midfielder possesses great passing ability and finds nice pockets of space in midfield, but just needs to watch his discipline, which could cost Juve as the season progresses.
Miralem Pjanić (CDM): The Bosnian has done well this season, contributing to five goals (scoring three and providing two assists), considering he’s a defensive midfielder. He has thrived in the deeper role, switching the ball towards the flanks to start attacks going for the Bianconeri and making vital challenges to prevent the opposition from breaking on the counter-attack. He put in a decent shift against Sampdoria in his last match, making key tackles, as the Turin outfit managed to edge their Blucerchiati opponents.
Blaise Matuidi (CM): The Frenchman is a very instrumental player for the side, so much so, that when he hasn’t featured for Allegri’s men, they’ve managed to pick up just one victory (in three matches). He starts moves off, keeps possession and knows when to get stuck into challenges. He is an integral part of the Juventus midfield and his presence could be the difference against a frustrating Bologna outfit.
Paulo Dybala (RW): It remains to be seen whether Allegri decides to rest any members from his usual front three for their Supercoppa Italiana showdown with Milan, but Dybala is enjoying a terrific season and would probably like to be involved against Bologna. He has already contributed to ten goals in 22 appearances, scoring seven and providing three assists. The Argentine has already scored against the Rossoblu this season in Serie A and would be eager to add to his tally against the same side.
Cristiano Ronaldo (ST): Ronaldo is Juventus’ top scorer this league campaign with 14 goals and six assists in 19 league appearances. He has contributed to 23 goals overall in 24 games, in all competitions and has been a remarkable addition to the squad, since joining in the summer. The Portuguese netted both goals against Sampdoria and scored the equaliser against Atalanta, the only time he started on the bench this season. Allegri may choose to rest the forward, but given how the side performed against the Bergamo outfit, he may not want to risk another disappointing display, especially with a goal-hungry Ronaldo at his disposal.
Douglas Costa (LW): With Mario Mandzukic sidelined, expect Costa to come back into the starting XI.