Juve awaiting good news before Fiorentina trip
Juventus will be looking to capitalise on a slip-up by either Roma or Napoli ahead of a trip to Fiorentina that could boost the champions' early season scudetto hopes.
Antonio Conte's champions sit in third place, two points behind pacesetters Roma but level on points with a Napoli side which is brimming with confidence under the helm of Rafael Benitez.
Roma, who have scored 20 goals and conceded only one in their past seven games, are odds-on for an eighth league win in succession when they host Napoli at the Olympic Stadium on Friday.
Defeat for Roma would be their first under Rudi Garcia's reign but, on the other hand, add impetus to a Juventus campaign which has been beset by worrying results in the Champions League and, lately, selection concerns for Conte.
Strikers Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella, as well as right winger Stephan Lichsteiner, are sidelined through injury.
Conte has yet to decide whether Fernando Llorente or Sebastian Giovinco should partner Argentinian Carlos Tevez up front in his traditional 3-5-2, which could be shorn of influential midfielder Arturo Vidal.
As of Thursday, Juventus had yet to register Vidal's return from Chile following a 2-1 World Cup qualifying win at home to Ecuador.
Juventus's preparations have been less than perfect and although they face a Fiorentina side which is winless in their past three games La Viola striker Giuseppe Rossi was buoyant.
"We've had two horrible draws at home against Cagliari and Parma. We need the three points," Rossi, formerly of Manchester United and Villarreal, told the Gazzetta dello Sport sports daily.
"The priority now is try to beat Juventus. They are in a strong position for the title, but the other teams are not far behind."
While Fiorentina are seven and nine points behind Juventus and Roma respectively, other contenders for a place among the top five places which offer entry to Europe have far more ground to make up.
AC Milan sit 12th with a 13-point deficit to Roma and host Udinese in Saturday's late game with concerns over striker Mario Balotelli.
Balotelli was set to return from a three-game ban but may now be sidelined due to a right thigh injury.
With Barcelona on the Champions League horizon on Tuesday, the setback could not come at a worse time for Massimiliano Allegri's side, who have garnered only four of a possible nine points in their last three league encounters.
Milan's woes were compounded by a shock 3-0 defeat to French Ligue 2 side Caen in a friendly last weekend, a result which infuriated club bosses and prompted a lockdown at their Milanello training ground as of Thursday.
"It was the coach's decision but one endorsed by the club, so no players complained," Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani told Milan Channel.
"When the results are lacking there is usually a reason and we have to root it out."
Lazio are in action in Sunday's early game away to Atalanta and will be hoping goalkeeper Federico Marchetti has recovered from shipping two goals in Italy's final World Cup qualifier against Armenia, which finished 2-2.
Inter, who sit fourth at five points adrift of Napoli and Juventus, travel to Torino in Sunday's late game hoping to get back on the winning trail following a 1-1 draw with Cagliari and a 3-0 home reverse to Roma two weeks ago.
Fixtures (times GMT)
Roma v Napoli (1845)
Cagliari v Catania (1600), AC Milan v Udinese (1845)
Atalanta v Lazio (1030), Fiorentina v Juventus, Genoa v Chievo, Verona v Parma, Livorno v Sampdoria, Sassuolo v Bologna (all 1300), Torino v Inter Milan (1845)
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