Paul Pogba has called on Juventus fans to inspire them to a vital Serie A victory over Empoli on Sunday.
Juan Cuadrado’s late goal gave the reigning champions a much-needed three points against city rivals Torino last week, though they remain nine points adrift of leaders Fiorentina.
Pogba wants the travelling faithful to provide the same inspiration as they did in the derby on home soil as Juve look for just their fifth win of the league season prior to the international break.
“We need them as much as when we’re doing badly as when we’re doing well,” he said to JTV.
“In the 80th or 90th minute, just hearing ‘Forza Juve’ gives you strength. You want to do something for them, for the team, and they help you a lot.
“It’ss a tough game, it’s away from home. Before we go away with our national teams we want to win, we want to get closer to the top.”
Empoli have enjoyed a solid recent run of form, taking seven points from three games since their 3-1 defeat to Roma on October 17.
Veteran striker Massimo Maccarone – one of only two current Empoli players to have scored against Juve – believes they represent the ideal opposition at this stage of the season, but has rejected the idea of a crisis at the club.
“Playing against Juventus now is perfect and protects us from letting our level drop, because how could you not be motivated to face the champions of Italy?” he said.
“How can you doubt a team which has won the last four titles? We’re ready, even though it will be a very delicate match.”
Juve have been boosted by Sami Khedira’s return to training on Friday following a calf injury, while Stephan Lichtsteiner is ready to make his league comeback after his goalscoring return in the Champions League draw with Borussia Monchengladbach.
Roberto Pereyra (hamstring) and Kwadwo Asamoah (thigh) are still sidelined.
For the home side, Levan Mchedlidze (hamstring) and Daniele Croce (calf) are not fully fit, with Kastriot Dermaku and Uros Cosic the long-term absentees.
Juve have yet to win back-to-back Serie A games this season and face a team who have taken just two points from them in their last 10 encounters.
Empoli, however – who are four points better off than they were under current Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri at this stage last season – are chasing a third consecutive home win for the first time since 2007.
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