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Preview: Juventus vs. Empoli - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides the team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Saturday's Serie A clash between Juventus and Empoli.

Juventus will be looking to bounce back from their first Serie A defeat of the campaign when they welcome relegation-threatened Empoli to Turin on Saturday evening.

Juve lost 2-0 at Genoa before the international break, but they still have a 15-point lead at the top of the table as they close on their eighth straight Serie A crown.


Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring for Juventus against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on March 12, 2019.© Reuters

There is no question that Juve would have wanted to go through the Serie A season unbeaten, and while their defeat at Genoa last time out was not ideal, the result will not mean too much come the end of the campaign.

The Old Lady entered the clash with Genoa off the back of a 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie, which saw them advance to the quarter-finals of the competition.

As expected, head coach Massimiliano Allegri made alterations against Genoa and the home side recorded a 2-0 win. It proved to be Juve's first league defeat of the campaign, but they still sit 15 points clear of second-placed Napoli entering the latest round of fixtures in Italy's top flight.

There will be no Coppa Italia crown this season following their shock 3-0 loss to Atalanta BC at the end of January, but a league and Champions League double would be seen as a wonderful campaign.

Unless something extraordinary happens, Juve will win Serie A, while they will fancy their chances of advancing past Ajax to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League. Cristiano Ronaldo was signed with a view to triumphing in Europe and the Portuguese certainly came up trumps against Atletico.

In terms of what is ahead - Juve will travel to Cagliari and welcome AC Milan in their two league games after this one, before visiting Ajax for the first leg of their quarter-final tie. Allegri's team will then visit SPAL ahead of the second leg of their clash with the Dutch giants on April 16.

The fact that Juve are so comfortable in the league will surely hand them an advantage over their rivals in the Champions League, and it will be fascinating to watch the quarter-final stage.

For now, though, the club's attention will be on returning to winning ways against Empoli. A record of 24 victories from 28 league matches this term is extremely impressive, while they have only conceded 19 times, which is another indication of the size of the task facing Empoli this weekend.

Recent form: WWWWWL
Recent form (all competitions): LWWWWL


Empoli's Francesco Caputo celebrates scoring against Juventus in their Serie A clash in October, 2018© Reuters

While Juve move ever closer to another league title, Empoli are currently battling to stay in the division. Indeed, a total of 25 points from their 28 matches has left them down in 17th position, just one point clear of 18th-placed Bologna entering Week 29 in Italy's top flight.

Only Frosinone (17) and Chievo (16) have lost more league games than Empoli (15) this term, and there is absolutely no question that they are locked in a battle to stay in Serie A.

Aurelio Andreazzoli's team recorded a huge 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Frosinone before the international break, while they only just narrowly lost (2-1) away to Roma earlier this month. There have certainly been sights of fight in recent weeks, but it is a huge ask to expect them to pick up a result this weekend.

Promoted as Serie B winners last term, Empoli performed admirably against Juve in the reverse league match earlier this season, only suffering a 2-1 defeat to the Italian champions.

The Blues have not recorded a single victory on their travels in the league this season, though, drawing four and losing nine of their 13 matches. When considering that they are visiting a Juve side with 12 victories from their 14 home fixtures this term, it is very tough to give the away side even a hint of a chance.

Empoli have also conceded the joint-most Serie A goals this season, shipping 54 in their 28 matches. They are the highest scorers in the bottom seven, though, with Francesco Caputo a huge reason for that, having contributed 13 goals this term.

It is a tough period for the Blues when considering that their next two are against Juve and Napoli, but they then have a huge game away at Udinese on April 7 and will be desperate to avoid dropping into the bottom three by the time that match rolls around.

Recent form: LWLDLW

Team News

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring for Juventus against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on March 12, 2019.© Reuters

Juve will be without the services of Ronaldo, who picked up a thigh injury on international duty with Portugal.

Douglas Costa, Sami Khedira and Juan Cuadrado are also all still unavailable, but Mattia De Sciglio should be fit to play a part having returned to training earlier this week.

Moise Kean scored twice for Italy during the recent break and is in contention, while Federico Bernardeschi and Paulo Dybala should make the XI for the home side.

As for Empoli, Matias Silvestre will miss out through suspension, while Lorenzo Polvani, Marcel Buchel, Antonino La Gumina, Levan Mchedlidze and Kevin Diks are on the sidelines through injury.

Luca Antonelli is also a doubt, meaning that Andreazzoli's squad is extremely stretched this weekend, but Caputo will be available to start alongside Diego Farias in the final third of the field.

Juventus possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; Cancelo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Sandro; Can, Pjanic, Matuidi; Bernardeschi, Mandzukic, Dybala

Empoli possible starting lineup:
Dragowski; Maietta, Veseli, Dell'Orco; Di Lorenzo, Traore, Bennacer, Krunic, Pajac; Farias, Caputo

Head To Head

As mentioned, Juve recorded a 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture earlier this season, while the Turin giants were 2-0 winners when the two teams last locked horns at the home of Juve in February 2017.

The Old Lady have only conceded three times in their last 11 league matches against Empoli, but have not scored more than twice in a Serie A fixture at home to the Blues since October 2007.

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We say: Juventus 3-0 Empoli

Ronaldo's absence is a blow for Juve, but they will still have more than enough to triumph this weekend. Empoli will be the fresher of the two teams, although that will count for little.

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Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring against Sassuolo on February 10, 2019
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