Juventus and Frosinone enter Sunday’s match having drawn their only previous encounter in Italy’s top tier, 1-1 at Juventus Stadium, with goals scored by Simone Zaza and Leonardo Blanchard.
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It’s perhaps just a coincidence that the surnames of the two teams’ main attacking threats begin with the letter ‘D.’ What can’t be doubted, however, is just how crucial Paulo Dybala and Federico Dionisi are to their respective sides.
La Joya has contributed to 46.5 per cent of Juventus’ goals this term, scoring 12 and creating eight, while Frosinone have their leading marksman to thank for 42 per cent of their strikes, netting seven and chipping in with three assists.
Born in Torino, Alessandro Frara grew up in Juve’s youth academy before playing a combined 11 minutes in the Coppa Italia and Champions League for the first-team during the 2001/02 season. The midfielder now captains the Ciociari, where he has been an ever-present over the last four-and-a-half years.
Meanwhile, Frosinone keeper Nicola Leali is currently in his fourth season-long loan spell since joining Juventus from Brescia in 2012. The 22-year-old is yet to pull on the Bianconeri jersey, having represented Virtus Lanciano, Spezia and Cesena in his previous three campaigns.
As one might expect from a team battling near the bottom of the table, Leali has had a busy campaign between the sticks this term, but has performed admirably making 81 saves in total, the third most in Serie A.
Operating at the opposite end of the pitch on Sunday, Gigi Buffon will be looking to keep a sixth clean sheet in the league already of 2016.
Surely near the top of Roberto Stellone’s list of things to tell his players before Sunday’s clash will be for them to sharpen their focus during the last 15 minutes of each half. The Ciociari have conceded the most goals in the league between minutes 31-45 (five times) and 76-90 (12 times).
The Bianconeri, meanwhile, boast the best scoring record during precisely the same periods of matches: nine and ten times within the final quarter-hours of the first and second halves respectively.
By beating Genoa last Wednesday, the Bianconeri set a new club record of 13 consecutive victories in a single top-flight campaign, while equalling the 13-match winning streak achieved between the end of the 2013/14 and start of the 2014/15 seasons. Another three points at the Stadio Matusa on Sunday would therefore represent a new record for successive wins, whether within or across Serie A seasons.
As Massimiliano Allegri got on with his homework during the week, he’ll have spotted the opportunities to hurt Frosinone from set pieces. The Ciociari have conceded a league-high 14 times from dead ball situations this term, while no Serie A side has scored more headers than the Bianconeri during 2015/16 (eight).
Paul Pogba has scored in each of his last three away matches in the league (at Carpi, Sampdoria and Chievo) and a goal against Frosinone would make him Juve’s most prolific player on the road of 2016. Dybala, Alvaro Morata and Alex Sandro have also all netted twice each on their travels this calendar year.
If Juve score first at the Stadio Matusa, the omens are firmly on their side, as they’ve taken maximum points on all eight occasions in which they’ve taken the lead on their travels this term. Furthermore, Frosinone have lost all six times that they’ve fallen behind at home.
Undoubtedly the foundation of the Old Lady’s success over the last four-and-a-half years, Juve’s rearguard has impressed once again this season, boasting the joint-best record away from home (along with Inter’s) of just nine goals conceded. In contrast, Stellone’s charges have conceded more often in front of their own fans than any other top-flight team (20).