Juventus will be looking to turn up the heat on Serie A leaders Napoli when they face Chievo in Sunday’s early kick-off.
The defending champions trail Napoli, who host Empoli later in the day, by two points at the summit, having mounted a sustained charge with a remarkable run of 11 consecutive league victories – just one short of their top-flight record.
That sequence forms part of a wider run of 14 wins in their last 15 matches in all competitions, with Wednesday’s 3-0 Coppa Italia victory over Inter acting as a further boost to morale as Juve continue to turn around a poor start to the season.
Neto kept his third Coppa clean sheet in the semi-final first leg and, while he is likely to be replaced by captain Gianluigi Buffon – who turned 38 on Thursday – for the trip to Verona, the Brazilian goalkeeper has urged his team-mates not to be distracted by an unfamiliar lunchtime kick-off.
“We’re playing at a time that we’re not so used to, but at this level we ought not be concerned by kick-off times or what may seem like difficult journeys,” he told Juve’s official website.
“We need to stay focused on the task at hand, not think about the matches we’ve already won or those which await us further down the line.
“We have to give our undivided attention to winning each game as it comes.”
Alvaro Morata ended a 20-match goal drought to net twice against Inter, before revealing off-field problems had been taking their toll.
However, the Spaniard was in good spirits as he showed his charitable side after the match – inviting a Juve fan to dine with his group of friends after spotting the supporter sitting alone at a restaurant.
Morata will hope he has now turned a corner and, with Chievo having conceded four goals in their last outing – a 4-1 defeat at Lazio – Sunday could represent a good opportunity for the former Real Madrid striker to build some momentum.
Chievo have won just one of their last 25 Serie A meetings with Juve, and the seemingly imminent departure of top scorer Alberto Paloschi to Swansea City could hinder their chances of improving on that record.
Juve’s forward options have are also depleted by a muscle injury for Mario Mandzukic, which could keep him out for four weeks, while Kwadwo Asamoah (thigh) is sidelined for two to three weeks.
That said, the Turin outfit possess one of the most potent attacking threats in Serie A in the form of Paulo Dybala, who has been directly involved in half of Juve’s 38 goals this season (12 goals, seven assists).
Key Opta stats:
– Juventus have won their last three away league games against Chievo.
– Chievo have scored a league-high share 26 per cent of their goals in the opening 15 minutes of games this season (7/27), while Juventus have conceded a league-high 27 per cent of their goals in this period (4/15).
– Chievo have lost 13 points from leading positions this season, more than any other team. Meanwhile, Juventus have gained a league-high 13 points from losing positions.
– Chievo’s Valter Birsa has provided the most assists from set-pieces in Serie A this season (4).
– All 12 of Dybala’s Serie A goals this season have been with his left foot, the most in the top five European leagues.
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