ROME - Italy's most successful club
Juventus have the chance to go clear at the top of Serie A for
the first time in two years when they travel to Catania on
Juventus, with 27 league titles to their name, go into the
weekend level with Genoa and Udinese after two wins and a draw
from an impressive opening three matches.
After struggling since the Calciopoli corruption scandal in
2006 when they were demoted to Serie B, the new-look Juve have
been galvanised this term by their new stadium - the first to be
privately owned by an Italian club - and a work ethic
reintroduced by coach and former player Antonio Conte.
"I'm happy with what the boys have shown in these first
three games," Conte told reporters after Wednesday's 1-1 draw at
home to Bologna. "This team has spirit - we don't drop our heads
when things go against us."
Juventus saw a glimpse of the top of the Serie A ladder for
a brief period on Wednesday when Andrea Pirlo set up another new
signing, Mirko Vucinic, to score in the 30th minute against
struggling Bologna in a lively contest at their atmospheric,
However, former Roma striker Vucinic spoiled his full home
debut by getting sent off following a second booking just before
half-time and the visitors came back to equalise.
"We've let slip two points but we've also been unlucky,"
said Conte, who may now pair up Alessandro Matri and the
fit-again Fabio Quagliarella, who scored twice in Juve's 3-1 win
in Sicily last season.
"There's a lot of work ahead but we're on the right road.
When I preach humility and ask for time before judging, I refer
Catania, who suffered their first defeat under new coach
Vincenzo Montella at Genoa in midweek, hope veteran centre-back
Nicola Legrottaglie will be fit enough to make his debut against
his former club.
"Playing Juve right now is not ideal," Montella, whose
side's only goal this term came from a Maxi Lopez penalty, told
Italy's Sky Sport channel. "We're playing at home so we don't
want to lose, but we need to improve on the road."
Inter Milan, already six points behind Juve, travel to
Bologna in Saturday's early match with veteran coach
Claudio Ranieri in charge after Gian Piero
Gasperini was axed after Tuesday's 3-1 defeat at Serie A new
Gasperini, who had led out the Nerazzurri in three league
matches and five matches in all, became Serie A's third coaching
casualty of the season.
Champions AC Milan, who have picked up just two points after
their 1-1 midweek draw against Udinese at the San Siro, will be
praying for a clean bill of health when they host Cesena on
Saturday ahead of Champions League week after being
plagued by a rash of injuries.
On Wednesday, Brazilian striker Pato pulled up with a muscle
strain, becoming the latest addition to a list that includes
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Massimo
Ambrosini, Gennaro Gattuso, Philippe Mexes and Luca Antonini.
Napoli, whose much smaller squad were put to the test after
coach Walter Mazzarri rested a number of first-teamers in
Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Chievo Verona, could go top for a day if
they defeat Fiorentina at the San Paolo on Saturday.
In an intriguing battle of Serie A's promoted teams
Atalanta, who would have been sharing top spot if they had not
been docked six-points for alleged match-fixing last season,
host giant-killing Novara on Sunday.
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