The Bianconeri will be coming into this game having thrashed Torino 4-1 in last round’s Derby della Mole. The win was a special one, as Gianluigi Buffon set a new Serie A record – 974 minutes – without conceding a goal. And for the team, it was a morale-booster after their disappointing capitulation to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Although there will be no European glory for the Turin giants, there is still the chance at completing a domestic double at the end of this season.
Juventus are currently in the finals of the Coppa Italia and three points ahead of Napoli in the league. La Vecchia Signora have also won all but one of their past 20 games, with a 0-0 draw against Bologna being the only hiccup along the way. Next up on the menu for Massimiliano Allegri’s side will be a meeting with his former side AC Milan, and he will certainly want to make it a second win this season against the Rossoneri at the San Siro. As such, picking up a win against Empoli – a team who have been quite poor this term – will be an absolute, especially with the Partenopei breathing down their necks.
Unfortunately, Juventus will have to contend with quite a few absences – some of whom were unable to feature against Bayern Munich. For starters, Leonardo Bonucci is injured, but due to his suspension, he would not have been able to play regardless. Alex Sandro and Sami Khedira are also banned for this game. Meanwhile, Claudio Marchisio has also been declared fit to participate, but Paulo Dybala has not recovered in time, meaning that Alvaro Morata and Mario Mandzukic could be the two to lead the line.
Morata, who put in a great shift against Bayern Munich, appears to be slowly returning to form. The same cannot be said of Mandzukic, who has yet to open his account for Juventus in 2016, and Allegri will be hoping that his drought will soon pass as he will need all hands on deck between now and the end of the season.In terms of defense, Giorgio Chiellini may be able to return to action after missing out on both games against die Roten due to a calf problem, and could be joined by the veteran Andrea Barzagli and young star Daniele Rugani – who will be featuring against his former side.
If Juventus have been flourishing, Empoli have been floundering. The Azzurri are currently on an 11-match winless streak, which is the worst run of any team so far in the league this term. Marco Giampaolo’s men have picked up a dismal six points out of a possible 33, but are quite fortunate: there are many more teams who have been even worse, and they presently sit in 11th place.
Nonetheless, given their poor record against the Bianconeri, this bad run of form will be likely extended to 12 games – as they have not beaten Juventus in Serie A since April 3, 1999. Giampaolo’s side were subject to a 3-1 loss in the reverse fixture earlier this season, and in all honesty, it looks like they will be in for another disappointing result this Saturday in Turin.
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