With the countdown to Sunday afternoon’s Serie A encounter between Udinese and Juventus firmly on, key clashes will be taking place all over the park as the two teams head into battle from 15.00 CET.
Juventus.com takes a look at six crucial areas that could shape the outcome once the first whistle sounds at the Stadio Friuli:
1. Attempting to end a torrid run
Not only will Udinese be hoping to cease a five-game Serie A winless streak on home soil but they will also be looking to get one over the Bianconeri in the league for the first time since triumphing 3-0 back in April 2010. Antonio Di Natale, who has proved a menace for many sides over the years, last got on the scoresheet against the Old Lady that day.
It looks even more of an uphill task for the Zebrette as Juventus have had the better of their counterparts in six previous domestic matches, keeping a clean sheet on four occasions. The Bianconeri have won 10 points out of a possible 12 from the last four meetings played in Udine.
2. Battle of the rearguards
Sunday’s encounter sees a match-up of differing proportions. The Old Lady, with the meanest defence in the league, have only faced 179 shots on goal whilst Udinese have allowed their opponents considerably more efforts (321).
When facing the opposition rearguard, Massimiliano Allegri’s troops are also the most prolific outfit from outside the penalty area, having found the back of the net on 12 occasions. The Zebrette, meanwhile, sit third behind Fiorentina with six.
3. Set-piece contrasts
The hosts have not experienced much joy from dead-ball situations during the course of this 2014/15 campaign, having only profited three times whilst Juventus have showed their defensive strengths by conceding a mere three goals, the last of those coming from a Napoli corner converted by Miguel Britos back in January.
4. Scoring at the right time
Twenty four of the Old Lady’s 44 strikes this term have come in the second half of games, a Serie A record this season. Allegri’s squad are also the most prolific during the first quarter hour of their 20 league encounters (nine goals). Udinese, however, seemingly tire as the game goes on and have only scored once during the final 15 minutes of all top flight encounters – the worst tally out of any team in Italy’s premier division.
Paul Pogba, who bagged his first Bianconeri brace in a 4-0 triumph over Udinese at Juventus Stadium back in January 2013, has struck first in each of the club’s previous three Serie A outings. Going further forward, super sub Alvaro Morata has proved pivotal by netting three times off the bench – no other player in Italy’s top flight can match that statistic.
5. Keeping out in front
League leaders Juventus have gone ahead in 17 encounters this season, dropping points in only two of these – 1-1 home draws against Sampdoria and Inter. It’s a whole different story for Stramaccioni’s ninth-placed charges though who have ceded 16 points from winning positions, with 12 of those having been lost at the Friuli.
6. Familiar faces
Down the years, many Udinese players have made the switch from the north-east of Italy to the north-west, and there are two midfielders among the Bianconeri ranks who could feature against their old club on Sunday .
Argentine Roberto Pereyra returns to his old stomping ground for the first time since he swapped the black and white stripes of Udine for those of Juventus last summer. The 23-year-old joined the Zebrette back in 2011, scoring eight goals in 84 Serie A appearances during a three-season spell.
Winger Simone Pepe also makes the trip to revisit his former employers, having spent four years at the Friuli. Capped on 23 occasions by the Azzurri, the 31-year-old found the back of the net 14 times in 104 top flight games for the club.
One man who won’t be involved is Kwadwo Asamoah. The Ghanaian international, who enjoyed a four-year stint at Udinese from 2008 to 2012, is continuing his rehabilitation from a knee injury back in Piedmont.