31.10.2014 17:10 - in: Serie A S

    Last time out against the Azzurri

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    Honours even for the Bianconeri as they are held to a 0-0 draw at the Stadio Carlo Castellani back in March 2008

    Following promotion back to Serie A as champions of Italy’s second flight a year earlier, Claudio Ranieri’s Juventus found themselves in a title race at the first time of asking alongside Inter and Roma.

    Standing in their way that evening  were a relegation-threatened Empoli side who boasted two current Bianconeri alumni within their ranks.

    Sebastian Giovinco and Claudio Marchisio, who both rose through the Juventus youth academy and have played a part in the recent Scudetto triumphs for the club, were enjoying loan spells in Tuscany as part of their development during the 2007/08 season.

    At a packed Stadio Carlo Castellani, Juventus started the brighter but found it hard to break down a gutsy Azzurri defence in a game bereft of any clear-cut opportunities.

    It took the visitors until the midway point of the first-half to get their first sight of goal when Tiago slipped in Jonathan Zebina who powered in a cross which evaded both Vincenzo Iaquinta and Alessandro Del Piero in the six-yard area.

    The Bianconeri were pushed into a defensive reshuffle after 29 minutes when Cristian Molinaro picked up an injury and was replaced by Zdenek Grygera before Empoli fashioned their first chance on goal.

    Marchisio found himself unmarked on the edge of the area and tested Gigi Buffon from  all of 20 yards but his tame effort was easily collected by the Bianconeri number one.

    As the clock ticked down towards Nicola Rizzoli’s half-time whistle, Del Piero picked the ball up deep into Empoli territory and drove forward before proceeding to curl one of his trademark efforts towards goal but it dropped well wide of the target.

    The first action of the second-half saw Iaquinta go down in the Empoli area under Felice Piccolo’s clumsy challenge but Rizzoli waved away his protests and seconds later, following a brief bout of pinball on the edge of the Bianconeri area, Ignazio Abate curled a left-footed effort wide of Buffon’s upright.

    With Ranieri going for the jugular and bringing both David Trezeguet and Pavel Nedved into the fray, the Bianconeri rallied to find a breakthrough and Del Piero saw his hooked effort land a foot wide of Davide Bassi’s goal.

    The home side threatened late on when  Abate squared across the face of goal but no-one was there to turn the cross home.

    And the game finished there, with neither team deserving of all three points but the Tuscan outfit noticeably happier for a priceless draw towards their fight against the drop.

    However, the result would ultimately be in vein with Empoli relegated at the culmination of the 2007/08 campaign after finishing in 18th position. It was to be the last time they would taste Serie A football until they were promoted back to the big time in May this year.

    Juventus on the other hand finished in third, 13 points behind eventual champions Inter.

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