Daniele Rugani has warned Juventus they must match the hunger and desire of Serie A strugglers Carpi to ensure they head into the mid-season break on a winning note.
After a sluggish start to the season, champions Juve have played their way back into title contention with six straight league victories and have lost just once in their past 10 matches in all competitions.
Moreover, a 4-0 win over rivals Torino in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday means Massimiliano Allegri’s side make the trip to the Stadio Alberto Braglia brimming with confidence.
Juve are now just six points off leaders Inter ahead of their final game of 2015 and, with Carpi six points adrift of safety in 19th, all the signs point to a straightforward win for Juve.
However, Rugani – who made his full debut against Torino – says the underdogs will be desperate to make a statement.
“I predict a tough match,” he told Juve’s official website ahead of Sunday’s encounter. “It’s normal for the opposition to be pumped up whenever they play us.
“We need to be patient, humble and show just as much hunger and determination to win as they will.”
Having made his first Juve start, Rugani has now targeted regular first-team action and a spot in Italy’s squad for Euro 2016.
“I’d like to get as much game time under my belt as possible and become a player who the manager can count on whenever he needs me,” he added.
“Being a part of the Azzuri first team next summer in France would definitely be a dream. It’s not easy because one needs to be playing regular football in order to stand a good chance of being selected.”
Carpi have just two league wins to their name this season, but they showed their ability to mix it in a 0-0 draw with Milan this month ,while they also shocked Fiorentina in a 1-0 victory in the Coppa on Wednesday.
And head coach Fabrizio Castori believes the win at Stadio Artemio Franchi can give Carpi plenty of confidence moving forward.
“These victories give us the self-esteem and confidence necessary to always look to the future with a positive eye,” he said.
“We know it will be tough for us, but this performance and these results should foster in us the belief we can do it.
“We will try to replicate the attitude and performance we showed [against Fiorentina].”
Key Opta stats:
– Carpi and Juventus have never met in Serie A; however, the Bianconeri have won the last two times they have played at the Braglia in the top-flight (1-0 in 2002 and 2-0 in 2003 against Modena).
– Juventus are on a run of six consecutive wins in Serie A . Carpi have won only once over this period (away at Genoa), failing to find the net four times in the process.
– This will be a game between the teams to have conceded the fewest (Juventus, six) and the most (Carpi, 27) goals from inside the box in the league this term.
– Juventus have scored the most goals in the last 15 minutes of play in Serie A this campaign (8).
– Carpi have conceded the most goals (17) in the first half.
– Juventus have shipped just four goals in the last nine Serie A matchdays, and never more than one per match in the process.
– Paulo Dybala has scored eight goals in the league this term, all with the left foot – he’s the player with the most left-footed goals so far.
– Marco Borriello, a former Juventus player, is Carpi’s best striker this season on three goals – however, none of his goals have come at home.