Juventus were comfortable winners at home last weekend and will be expected to repeat the trick on Saturday (7.45pm GMT, live on ESPN) when they host relegation threatened Genoa at their eponymous Arena.
The reigning Serie A champions are leading the way again this season, five points clear of second place Napoli with 48 points from 15 wins, three draws and three defeats.
The Old Lady were imperious in the early months of the season, winning ten of their first eleven matches to extend their unbeaten league run to 49 matches. New signings Kwadwo Asamoah and Sebastian Giovinco added incision and invention to the Juve ranks, and at that point they looked odds on to retain their crown.
They are still favourites, but have at least been made to look mortal in the fallout from their 3-1 defeat at home to Inter Milan in early November, which ended the unbeaten run and also seems to have had a damaging effect on morale.
Antonio Conte’s men have won six of the subsequent ten matches, so are hardly in disastrous form, but two draws and two more defeats have seen them drop points that under normal circumstances would surely have seen them caught at the league’s summit.
As it is, many of their title challengers have also suffered from inconsistency over the same period. Inter, in fact, have won just three times since defeating Juve, so Juventus still hold a relatively comfortable advantage at the top of the table.
That has not stopped them looking to improve, though, with a top class striker still very much on their shopping list, as indeed it was in the summer, when failed negotiations with other more talented strikers saw them eventually plump for Nicklas Bendtner on loan from Arsenal. Didier Drogba has been linked, as has Lyon’s Lisandro Lopez.
Juventus otherwise still have a very good team and displayed their best form last weekend in thrashing Udinese 4-0 at home. Paul Pogba, who has impressed since his summer move from Manchester United, bolstered his growing reputation with a fine double, filling in admirably for the injured Andrea Pirlo at the base of the midfield.
Pirlo is again likely to miss out on Saturday, while Leonardo Bonucci and Giovinco are doubts, with the former more likely to make the starting eleven. Inspirational defender Giorgio Chiellini is out injured until February, while Asamoah is currently on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Ghana.
Genoa may not have as many selection problems coming into Saturday’s fixture – with just Bosko Jankovic and Juan Manuel Vargas likely to miss out – but have plenty of other issues to contend with. Not least of these is their precarious league position, which is 18th in Serie A, three points from safety with 17 points from four wins, five draws and 12 defeats.
Luigi Delneri paid for the club’s poor form with his job following last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at home to Catania. Delneri had himself replaced Luigi De Canio in October, but was unable to inspire a turnaround in fortunes, gaining 11 points from 13 matches (0.85 per match) in comparison to the nine from eight (1.125 per match) obtained by De Canio.
Davide Ballardini is the latest man tasked with saving Genoa from the drop. The 49-year old was previously in charge of the club in the 2010/11 season, leading them to a 10th place finish before receiving his marching orders at the end of the campaign. Genoa have plummeted since his departure, avoiding relegation by just one place last season and now finding themselves in another scrap against the drop.
There is certainly a degree of talent in the Genoa squad, with Ciro Immobile and Marco Borriello surely capable of more than the collective 10 goals they have managed to date and Cristobal Jorquera awaiting a coach willing to put full faith in his considerable ability.
But the table does not lie and neither do the statistics, which note that Genoa have both the sixth-worst scoring record (21) and joint fourth-worst defensive record (34) in the division. This is not an unbalanced side who require improvement at one end of the pitch or the other, but one that needs to get better at both ends if they are to avoid dropping down to Serie B.
Juventus v Genoa Betting Tips
Juventus may have stumbled a little in the last couple of months but are still fearsome opponents when on form, as displayed by their 4-0 evisceration of Udinese last weekend.
Genoa are in wretched form with just two wins from their last 17 matches and were defeated 3-1 when these sides met at the Stadio Communale Luigi Ferraris earlier in the season.
- Back Juventus -1.5 on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 7/12 with Pinnacle.
- Juventus are yet to concede a goal in the first half of a home match this season and against a less than prolific Genoa attack we would not expect that to change on Saturday. The half time score has been either 0-0 or 1-0 to Juventus in nine of their 11 home matches to date, so we suggest splitting a weighted stake across both these scores at best odds of 3/1 with Coral for 0-0 and 21/10 with BetVictor or Coral for 1-0.