Verdict: Total goals over 2.5
Best odds: 4/5
Having returned to the top of the Serie A table, Juventus are in excellent form and aiming to extend their advantage as they host Empoli in Turin on Saturday evening.
Juventus have been in prolific goal-scoring form, netting 18 goals in five matches, marking their best start to a year since 1932.
In contrast, Empoli have the least potent attack in the league, with just 14 goals scored in all of their 21 matches so far.
Juventus took advantage of their main title rivals being away in Saudi Arabia and claimed the top spot in Serie A last Sunday when they faced Lecce at Stadio Via del Mare. Serbian striker Dusan Vlahovic, who had previously scored a brilliant brace against Sassuolo, continued his goal-scoring form by netting two more goals in the 3-0 victory over Lecce.
With seven consecutive wins, Juventus has advanced to the Coppa Italia semi-finals and positioned themselves as the chief challengers to Inter Milan for the Scudetto. The upcoming Derby d’Italia between the two giants, set to take place at San Siro next week, is anticipated to be a decisive clash in the title race.
Having remained unbeaten in their last 16 league matches, this season marks only the 10th top-flight campaign in which Juventus have exceeded 50 points after 21 games. On the previous nine occasions, they went on to finish at the top of the league. With a potential win on Saturday, coach Max Allegri aims to guide Juventus four points clear of Inter, even though they have played two more matches.
Furthermore, Allegri could achieve the milestone of 1000 points in Serie A, making him the first coach ever to reach this feat. He has recently surpassed last year’s Scudetto-winning coach, Luciano Spalletti, who had 996 points. This achievement adds an extra dimension to Juventus’ aspirations for success in the current season.
Juventus’ new signing, Tiago Djalo, who recently confirmed his move from Ligue 1 club Lille, is not expected to start in the upcoming match against Empoli on Saturday evening; Allegri is likely to field a settled side for this encounter.
In terms of injuries and player availability, Federico Chiesa is still dealing with a muscular problem, and Moise Kean will not be involved as he nears a loan move to Atletico Madrid. Adrien Rabiot is set to miss out again, potentially allowing Fabio Miretti to continue in the midfield.
The potent partnership of Kenan Yildiz and Vlahovic, is likely to be retained in the attacking line.
Empoli faces a challenging task as they take on Juventus, considering their historical struggles and their current position in the Serie A standings. In the reverse fixture in September, Empoli suffered a 2-0 home defeat, and they have lost 12 of their 14 away games against Juventus in Serie A, including a 4-0 defeat on their most recent trip to the Allianz Stadium.
Empoli’s league campaign has been challenging, as they currently sit second-bottom in the standings with just 16 points. This is the club’s joint-worst tally at this stage of a top-flight campaign. The recent departure of former coach Aurelio Andreazzoli, who was dismissed earlier this month, is a stonewall testament to their struggles.
Despite the difficult circumstances, new coach Davide Nicola made a promising debut last Sunday with a 3-0 win over Monza. Szymon Zurkowski, a recent arrival, played a significant role by scoring a hat-trick on his first start since returning to Stadio Castellani on loan.
Empoli will be hopeful of building on this positive result as they aim to defy the odds and secure just their third away victory of the season against Juventus.
Zurkowski has already scored four Serie A goals since the turn of the year, and he’s second only to Vlahovic in that aspect. He will surely be the first name Nicola puts on his teamsheet for a game like this. At the other end of the pitch, they’ll surely have the reliable Sebastiano Luperto in the heart of defence. Lazio loanee Matteo Cancellieri will be back from suspension.
On the other hand, five players will be forced to miss the Turin trip through injury: experienced forwards Francesco Caputo (ankle) and Mattia Destro (muscle), as well as defenders Giuseppe Pezzella (ankle), Simone Bastoni and Tyronne Ebuehi (both thigh).
There’s no reason to expect anything other than Juventus winning this clash with goals to spare. With all due respect to Empoli, the visitors simply do not have enough quality to stop a title-chasing team this season, particularly not away from home.
Verdict: Total goals over 2.5
Best odds: 4/5
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