MILAN - Juventus, who visit Sampdoria on
Sunday with a full treatment room, have suffered so
many recent injuries that fans have even blamed the training
ground's proximity to a horse racing track as a root of the
No one has come up with a serious suggestion as why this
would affect the health of players, as opposed to their bank
balances, but the high-tech Vinovo centre is under scrutiny.
Fluctuating temperatures and high humidity at their training
ground compared to their former base prior to 2006 have been
mentioned as possible causes of muscle injuries in media probes.
"There are lots of injuries and this is the reality for Juve
and it's tough," midfielder Alberto Aquilani told reporters
having remarkably avoided any knocks in his first season at Juve
after an injury-riddled time at Liverpool.
Former coach Alberto Zaccheroni ordered his own
investigation last term and the surfaces of the Vinovo pitches
were improved in case they were to blame but injuries have
Luca Toni suffered tweaks in his first two Juve games and is
out for weeks while fellow striker Vincenzo Iaquinta and
midfielder Claudio Marchisio (pictured) have had a string of muscle pulls.
Fabio Quagliarella's probable season-ending knee injury was
just bad luck as was the broken nose for Amauri, who may wear a
protective mask against fading Sampdoria.
However, the constant chopping and changing in Luigi Del
Neri's team is not helping sixth-placed Juve's title challenge.
"This isn't our best moment given the numerous injuries. I
hope we can get them fit now," said Alessandro Del Piero, the
only available striker in last Sunday's 2-1 win over Bari.
"From here on in, there aren't so many midweek games and we
will have to be clever to make the most of this situation."
Juve's early exit from the Europa League could indeed be a
blessing as they seek to take advantage of AC Milan's wobble at
the top, despite losing their first two league games of the year
before fighting off Bari.
Milan have drawn 4-4 with Udinese and 1-1 at Lecce in their
last two Serie A games to leave their lead at four points.
Sunday's late kick-off at home to Cesena, who beat the
Rossoneri at the start of the campaign and lost at resurgent
champions Inter Milan on Wednesday, is suddenly a must-win for
Lazio, Napoli and AS Roma are all ready to pounce on further
slip-ups but the biggest fear among Massimiliano Allegri's group
is that Inter and former Milan boss Leonardo make more progress.
Wednesday's 3-2 win meant Inter, who have overcome the
injury problems which dogged Rafael Benitez's spell in charge,
are now just six points behind their city rivals with one more
game in hand but Sunday's trip to in-form Udinese looks
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