04.12.2015 13:03 - in: Serie A S

      Three key duels in the capital

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      As the Bianconeri look to extend their unbeaten run of 21 matches in the league against Lazio, Juventus.com identifies three individual battles at the core of tonight’s contest in Rome
      Mario Mandzukic vs. Santiago Gentiletti

      Mario Mandzukic enters tonight’s clash at the Stadio Olimpico on the back of three goals in his last four matches in all competitions and he’ll be keen to continue his hot run of form against Lazio – the team which conceded his very first strike in the black and white back in August’s Super Cup final in Shanghai.

      The Croatian forward will also be keen to add to his success on the road this term, having scored in Juventus’ last two away matches in the league at Empoli and Palermo respectively.

      Another record worth maintaining is that of netting his side’s opener in five Bianconeri victories, meaning that Massimiliano Allegri will look for another early contribution from the frontman, who has now started the last four fixtures.

      The man who looks most likely to be tasked with halting Mandzukic’s scoring run is Santiago Gentiletti. The Argentine centre-back, who returns to Stefano Pioli’s line-up after missing last weekend’s reverse at Empoli through suspension, has been Lazio’s most effective defender this season, having blocked the most amount of shots (nine) and intercepted the highest number of opposition balls (45).

      Gentiletti has also won 76.7 per cent of his attempted tackles this term, while proving a capable cog in building up the play from the backline by making more passes in the defensive half of the pitch (391) than any of his team-mates.

      Stefano Sturaro vs. Marco Parolo

      Stefano Sturaro has featured strongly in the Bianconeri’s recent resurgence, having played the full 90 minutes in each of his side’s wins over Milan, Manchester City and Palermo, scoring his first goal of the campaign against the latter.

      The 22-year-old has brought plenty of energy and mobility to central areas of the park and he has proved to have an eye for a tackle, having won 72.2 per cent of them this term, the third-highest in midfield behind only Claudio Marchisio (76.9) and Mario Lemina (78.6), who could all play from the first whistle at the Olimpico in the absence of Sami Khedira and Paul Pogba through injury and suspension respectively.

      While Sturaro offers plenty of running on the right-hand side of midfield, the Biancocelesti too have their own kind of box-to-box player on the left in the shape of Marco Parolo.

      Sturaro is a willing runner between the boxes, as shown by his touchmap here against Palermo (29/11/2015).
      Likewise, Parolo offers plenty of mobility at home against Palermo (22/11/2015).

      The 30-year-old has been somewhat a late bloomer, after only really coming to the fore from the age of 25 with Cesena, with whom he won promotion to Serie A in 2010, and impressive performances in Italy’s top-flight would follow with the Seahorses, then Parma and now Lazio.

      Parolo, who also makes regular appearances for Antonio Conte’s Azzurri, is an ever-present for Pioli’s outfit and will be keen to start contributing once more to the team’s attacking output, having notched an impressive 10 goals from midfield last year.

      Giorgio Chiellini vs. Felipe Anderson

      Giorgio Chiellini has played every minute of his team’s trio of consecutive clean sheets in all competitions and the towering Tuscan will be eager to extend that run to four games, as well as continuing a fine personal record of scoring three times against Lazio, who, alongside Napoli, is the team against which he has netted most often in Serie A.

      Chiellini has blocked more shots (seven) and won a higher percentage of his 50-50s (71.1 per cent) than any other Bianconeri defender this term and he’ll need to be at his best once more at the Olimpico to counter the notable attacking threat posed by Felipe Anderson.

      The Brazilian has contributed to over a third of his side’s 17 Serie A goals so far in 2015/16, scoring four times and providing two assists from wide positions, while adding a further one apiece in the Biancocelesti’s successful Europa League campaign.

      Felipe Anderson switches flanks during the Rome derby (8/11/2015).
      The Brazilian is a constant menace down the right against Palermo (22/11/2015).

      Felipe Anderson is capable of causing confusion in opposition ranks by switching from flank to flank during matches, as in last month’s Rome derby. His last full 90 minutes, however, against Palermo saw him run riot down the right-hand side.

      And if Stefano Pioli’s men are to kick-start their season, they will look for more magic and wing wizardry from the 22-year-old talent, who played such a critical role (with 10 goals and eight assists) in Lazio’s charge up the table during the latter half of 2014/15 and their ultimate qualification for a Champions League playoff.

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