Juventus hope to repeat Udinese success against Genoa

Turin squad, keen to keep five-point lead, want to repeat last week's win tonight

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 January, 2013, 4:16am
 

Juventus host Genoa tonight hoping the possible absence of key players has the same effect as it did last week when the champions hit four past Udinese to open up a five-point gap at the top of Serie A.

Juve were without several key players, including midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio, last week, but ran out 4-0 winners after French teenager Paul Pogba hit two superb goals.

With title rivals Napoli and Lazio both being held, Juve stretched their lead and are favourites to do so again against a Genoa side who have just replaced sacked coach Gigi Del Neri with Davide Ballardini.

Del Neri was axed late on Sunday as the northwest-coast side returned to the relegation zone following a 2-0 home defeat to minnows Catania.

Although Pirlo is set to watch from the sidelines, alongside injured striker Mirko Vucinic, midfielder Pogba is in scintillating form, meaning Ballardini could face a baptism of fire on what is his second spell with Genoa.

Midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini said: "I scored against them [Genoa] earlier in the season, but that's in the past. I am staying focused on the present and on [today's] game. We have to win, and try to extend our lead at the top."

Last week's draw in Fiorentina was the first time Napoli had failed to take all three points in the league since mid-December.

Parma host Napoli without defender Cristian Zaccardo, who is now an AC Milan player after joining the Rossoneri in an exchange deal, which took Djamel Mesbah the other way.

Napoli's Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani is the league's top scorer with 17 goals, but Parma midfielder Marco Marchionni warned: "When we face the big teams, we always give a little more and maybe we need this at this time."

Lazio's 1-1 draw with Juventus in the first leg semi-final of the Italian Cup in midweek was their second in a week after they were held 2-2 by Palermo last Sunday.

And although Vladimir Petkovic's title-chasers are unbeaten in their last 15 games, they will look to get back to winning ways in the likely absence of German striker Miroslav Klose.

Petkovic said: "We're doing well. That's 15 games without defeat. For what the lads have achieved, I have to say hats off. But we know we can do better."

Inter Milan, who are currently in fourth, still have a number of key forwards on the casualty list as they prepare to host Torino at the San Siro tomorrow.

Striker Antonio Cassano, who has been out for 10 days with a muscle strain, and midfielder Dejan Stankovic, sidelined all season with an Achilles injury, will be absent. Doubts also remain over Diego Milito.

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