Fresh off a comfortable continental victory in Kyiv, Juventus return to Serie A action on Sunday night as they host Ivan Juric’s stout Hellas Verona.
Andrea Pirlo remains unbeaten as Bianconeri boss following his shock summer arrival but they currently sit fifth in the table, four points off early leaders Milan, after drawing two of their opening four games.
The early signs suggest that Juve’s monopoly over calcio is in serious danger this term, with threats emerging in Milan, Naples and Bergamo. It’s poised to be a mightily competitive Serie A season.
Sunday’s clash with Juric’s Gialloblu represents an incredibly tricky fixture. The visitors may lack firepower but they’re unquestionably one of the stoutest and most well-drilled sides Italy has to offer. They’ve conceded just once in four games thus far.
Nevertheless, here’s the starting XI Pirlo should opt for against the savvy Verona.
Wojciech Szczęsny (GK) – Gianluigi Buffon started the trip to Crotone last Sunday and could start between the sticks once more with Juve in Champions League action at Barcelona in midweek. However, does your number one goalkeeper really need another rest, Andrea?
Danilo (CB) – The former Manchester City full-back has quietly impressed to start the season in a rather complex role where his position is phase-dependent. Expect Danilo to become a mainstay in Pirlo’s XI this term.
Leonardo Bonucci (CB) – There’s no reason why the skipper will be dropped for Sunday’s clash with Matthijs de Ligt not yet fully fit following shoulder surgery. Bonucci plays a key role in Juve’s build-up, with his ability to step out of defence and deliver line-breaking passes into the likes of Aaron Ramsey crucial.
Merih Demiral (CB) – The Turkey international replaced the injured Giorgio Chiellini in midweek and performed admirably in his place. With the veteran Italian out, the talented Demiral is set to line-up in Pirlo’s back three.
Juan Cuadrado (RWB) – The Colombian is a fine option at wing-back for Pirlo, with his flexible role seeing him function as a right midfielder out of possession. Cuadrado will retain his place down the right amid little competition for his place.
Arthur Melo (CM) – The Brazilian’s started just once for Pirlo since his summer move from Barcelona but it seems a mere matter of time until he establishes himself as a bona fide starter. Arthur appears ideal for the Italian’s system in Turin and will likely replace Rodrigo Bentancur – who struggled against Dynamo – in the XI.
Adrien Rabiot (CM) – The elegant Frenchman is rumoured to be behind Arthur and Bentancur in the midfield pecking order which means he could earn a start here with the aforementioned pivot starting against Barcelona in the week.
Gianluca Frabotta (LWB) – Pirlo’s proved that he’s not afraid to delve into the youth ranks to pluck out talent to perform particular roles. Frabotta is a distinct example and the 21-year-old will likely return to the side as a result of Federico Chiesa’s suspension.
Aaron Ramsey (AM) – The Welshman’s certainly been one of the beneficiaries of Pirlo’s appointment, with Il Maestro handing him a roaming role between the lines. It’s a function he’s served impressively thus far and he was one of Juve’s star performers in their midweek victory. He may be rested for Wednesday, mind.
Paulo Dybala (CF) – After making his first appearance of the season in Kyiv, Dybala’s poised for a start in this one. The Argentine was arguably the star of their Scudetto-winning campaign under Maurizio Sarri last term and will surely be a major part of Pirlo’s plans, despite the potential of Dejan Kulusevski. Expect Dybala to perform a similar function to the young Swede in Il Maestro’s flexible system.
Alvaro Morata (ST) – The Spaniard’s made the most of Cristiano Ronaldo’s quarantine by scoring three times in his last two outings. Morata certainly looks comfortable in Turin and will lead the line once more on Sunday.