Juventus take on an in-form Sassuolo at the Juventus Stadium on Friday, hoping to maintain their slender three-point advantage over title rivals Napoli.

 

With Massimiliano Allegri’s side afforded the luxury of a Friday night game ahead of their crucial Champions League Round of 16 second-leg tie against Bayern Munich, major changes to the starting XI are unlikely.

Unlike the Bianconeri, who are still competing on three fronts, Napoli’s exit from the Europa League at the Round of 32 stage means that Maurizio Sarri’s side will focus solely on the Serie A. As such, Allegri cannot afford to ease up domestically, even with the decider against Pep Guardiola’s Bayern looming large.

Giorgio Chiellini will miss the game against Sassuolo, but reportedly has a chance of returning for the midweek clash against the Bavarian giants. Massimiliano Allegri is quoted in his pre-match press conference as saying (via Juventus’s official Twitter feed), “Chiellini won’t make it back in time for Sassuolo. Bayern? Perhaps.

“Chiellini and Caceres are the only injured players at the moment. Everyone else is available.”

With the veteran Italian defender unavailable, Allegri will persist with the four-man defence he has recently been using, featuring Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci at the heart of the defence, flanked on either side by Stephan Lichtsteiner and Patrice Evra.

Buffon on the brink of breaking historic record

Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon is one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of the game, and on Friday, the veteran has the opportunity to make history. Buffon has not conceded a goal for 836 minutes in the league, and is currently behind only AC Milan’s Sebastiano Rossi (929 minutes) and legendary Juventus keeper Dino Zoff (903 minutes).

A clean sheet against Sassuolo is guaranteed to take him ahead of Zoff in the list, and could even catapult him above Rossi. The Bianconeri‘s defence has been pivotal to the change in their fortunes this season, and as always, Buffon has played a key role in ensuring that they remain one of the best in Europe. While the 38-year-old World Cup winner has nothing left to prove, the record would be an additional feather in his cap — an achievement commensurate with his status as one of the greatest of all time.

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