Juventus face Chievo test with Mirko Vucinic, Antonio Conte serving bans

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 February, 2013, 4:01am


Juventus' three-point lead over Napoli at the top of Serie A could come under threat this weekend when the champions make a potentially challenging trip to Chievo missing striker Mirko Vucinic and coach Antonio Conte.

Vucinic was one of several players cautioned for aggressive behaviour, and handed a one-match ban, towards the match referee after he refused to award an apparently valid penalty claim in the final minute of a 1-1 draw with Genoa last weekend.

Other absentees from the Turin club's touchline after suspensions will be defender Giorgio Chiellini (one match) and Leonardo Bonucci (two). Conte's ban is also for two games.

In midweek, Juve were knocked out of the Italian Cup semi-final by Lazio - who sit third in Serie A, six points off the lead - following a late winner by Sergio Floccari at the Olympic Stadium.

Influential midfielder Claudio Marchisio is also likely to be sidelined for a week to 10 days after "taking a knock to his left hip", according to Juventus, who signed French striker Nicolas Anelka from Shanghai Shenhua this week.

The possibility of Juve dropping more points will not be lost on Napoli, who closed the gap to three with a late winner against Parma last week courtesy of Uruguayan Edinson Cavani.

The victory had special significance for Walter Mazzarri's side, said Napoli's Slovakian midfielder Marek Hamsik.

"It was a tough game, but we got the three points in the end and they were so important," said Hamsik. "After Saturday's result [for Juve] … it was vital we won."

AC Milan host Udinese in tomorrow's late game, when it is expected that new Rossoneri signing Mario Balotelli will begin putting his troubled spell at Manchester City behind him. He is widely expected to be paired up front with fellow Italy international Stephan El Shaarawy, who with 15 goals is second only to Cavani in the scoring charts.

"I have wanted to play for Milan for a long time but I was with other teams," said Balotelli, whose arrival in Milan on Wednesday night led police to use tear gas to calm the hundreds of fans who turned up to welcome the striker home to Italy.