Juventus entertain Marco Giampaolo’s Empoli side on the 2nd of April, Saturday with a depleted squad. Several key presences on the field are set to miss out due to suspension or injury.

The Juventus players, having returned from their international duties, are well underway with their preparations ahead of facing an Empoli side bustling with some of the most eye catching talents in the peninsula. However, they do so with one eye on the trip to Florence in midweek for the vital Coppa Italia clash against Viola.

The title race in Italy has been more exciting this year than it has been in recent memory, having had more than four teams occupying the top slot of the table at a time. Giorgio Chiellini recently spoke on this in an interview with Premium Sport: “We’ve shown on the pitch that we’re the strongest, but we have [Napoli] behind us who won’t give up, a team that is having a great season

“It’s up to us to keep them as far away as possible. The league will be decided later, after the weekend of April 24 and 25 when we’re in Florence [playing Fiorentina] and they’re in Rome [Napoli playing Roma].

“It’s possible we could have almost decisive results then.” (via Goal.com)

Lineups

Juventus

Juventus seem unstoppable at the moment in Serie A, having spent 926 minutes of Serie A football without conceding a goal. Gianluigi Buffon recently overtook Sebastiano Rossi’s record of not conceding a goal for the longest period of time, before Belotti converted a penalty for Torino to give their rivals a consolation goal.

Probable Starting XI: Buffon (c), Barzagli, Rugani, Chiellini, Cuadrado, Evra, Hernanes, Morata, Mandzukic, Pogba, Sturaro (3-5-2)

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Empoli

Empoli, having started the season considerably better than expected after the departure of their head coach and a number of crucial players, are now 11th in the league after a dismal run of form. Giampaolo however sounded enthusiastic about his side’s chances.

“It’s the ideal match for us because we have nothing to lose,” Giampaolo told ItaSportPress

“I have a young team, some are fired-up because they know the interest of the great teams but we need points, even starting on Saturday.

“Riccardo Saponara is outstanding, and definitely ready for a great team.” (via FootballItalia)

Probable Starting XI: Skorupski, Bittante, Costa, Tonelli, Ariaudo, Zielinski, Paredes, Croce; Saponara; Pucciarelli, Maccarone (4-3-1-2)

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Key Facts

  • Empoli have not won a match since January when they picked up a 0-1 win away in Turin against Juve’s cross town rivals Torino.
  • Giampaolo’s side’s dismal run of form has seen them pick up 6 points from a possible 33 in 11 games home and away.
  • Juventus have won 18 of their last 19 games.
  • Liechtenstein international Marcel Buchel, on loan from Juve, will be looking to impress them.
  • Young sensation Danielle Rugani is all set to marshall the Juve defence in absence of Bonucci against his former side
  • Marco Giampaolo is yet to take a point from a meeting with Juventus. He has lost to Juve on all occasions while in charge of Ascoli, Cagliari, Catania and Siena.
  • Juventus won the last fixture 2-0 in Tuscany.

Prediction

Juventus 3-1 Empoli

Juventus should be able to dispatch Empoli with relative ease, inspite of a number of key absences in defence and midfield. The trick however, will be to restrict the influence of Riccardo Saponara.

Betting Odds (via Paddy Power)

Juventus – 1/4

Empoli – 12/1

Draw – 9/2

 

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