Juve look to bounce back against Serie A whipping boys
Leaders Juventus will look to put their 2-0 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich behind them by putting strugglers Pescara to the sword Saturday as they continue their march towards the Serie A title.
The Old Lady of Turin looked decidedly frail midweek against the soon-to-be German champions, with veteran 'keeper Gianluigi Buffon labelled a "pensioner" by German legend Franz Beckenbauer after he failed to stop Bayern's first-minute opener.
Buffon has since hit back at the "old wise man" of German football, claiming the former Bayern coach and president "should be quiet and wait for the (outcome of the) next game."
In the meantime, Pescara provide the Bianconeri with a chance to take another step towards a successful title defence and allow coach Antonio Conte a chance to rest some tired legs in what is a busy period for the champions.
Conte, however, already has one eye on next Wednesday's second leg at Juventus Stadium.
"We have a league game against Pescara on Saturday and immediately after that we'll focus on the return leg," said Conte.
Taking anything less than three points from a Pescara side that has garnered only eight from a possible 45 on the road this season would be considered a disaster - at least by Juve's fans.
A win on the other hand would put Juve 12 points clear of closest challengers Napoli, although the latter were in a similar position last week until Edinson Cavani came off the bench to score a late brace in a 5-3 win away to Torino.
Still nine points off the pace, Napoli host Genoa on Sunday looking to reinforce second place, the last in Serie A offering automatic entry to next season's Champions League.
But with Milan only two points further off the pace in third, Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik believes his side's next three games could make the difference.
Napoli host Genoa, are away to Milan and then host Cagliari while Milan are away to Fiorentina, host Napoli and then face Juventus away.
"They'll be decisive because we could increase our points gap," said the Slovakian midfielder.
Fiorentina, meanwhile, host Milan in Sunday's early match without striker Stevan Jovetic, who was ruled out for up to two weeks after suffering a thigh injury in a 2-1 defeat to Cagliari.
La Viola are still in fourth, but now six points adrift of Milan, who occupy the third and last spot offering qualification for the Champions League, albeit through a preliminary round.
Fiorentina winger Juan Cuadrado has scored in his last two Serie A outings and said: "We'll miss him (Jovetic) but we have other players who want to step up and show they're up to the job. "We'll give everything to try and beat Milan."
A slip-up by Milan would also boost city rivals Inter, who host Atalanta on Sunday four days after beating Sampdoria 2-0 away in a match postponed from March 17 due to adverse weather in Genoa.
The Nerazzurri are up to fifth, a point shy of Fiorentina but seven adrift of Milan, and coach Andrea Stramaccioni believes is hoping their recent inconsistent spell is behind them.
"It was a performance that showed we are back to our best, especially against a team which is strong at home, like Sampdoria," said the 37-year-old.
On Monday Roma host Lazio but Lazio president Claudio Lotito has brazenly claimed this season's 'Derby della Capitale' has little significance.
"We shouldn't be focusing on Roma, they are one of many teams" we play against, Lotito said after the win over Catania last week.
"Roma were founded 27 years after Lazio and are in a totally different position in the table. They didn't compete in Europe this season so that has helped them."
Roma, however, sit in seventh place only three points behind Lazio.
Fixtures (times GMT)
Juventus v Pescara (1600), Bologna v Torino (1845)
Fiorentina v Milan (1030), Catania v Cagliari, Sampdoria v Palermo, Siena v Parma, Udinese v Chievo (all 1300), Inter v Atalanta, Napoli v Genoa (both 1845)
Roma v Lazio (1845)
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