Juventus
    Juventus
      06.11.2015 11:00 - in: Serie A S

      10 things to know about #EmpoliJuve

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      With the Bianconeri heading to the Stadio Carlo Castellani for just the tenth time in their history on Sunday, Juventus.com runs through ten key facts and quirks to know about the Tuscan club
      1) The Prince of...Tuscany?

      Is that Claudio Marchisio not wearing a black and white shirt?

      It absolutely is, do not adjust your screen. Marchisio has spent eight of his nine seasons as a professional, not to mention the entirety of his junior career, as a Bianconero with Empoli being the only other side the Little Prince has represented.

      Claudio made 26 appearances for the Azzurri in a season-long loan spell in 2007/08 before returning home to continue to push for a place in Juve’s starting XI the following year. The rest, as they say, is history. 

      2) The Bianconero connection

      Marchisio however isn’t the only J-Academy graduate to have been sent to Tuscany to learn his trade as Liechtenstein international Marcel Buchel will tell you.

      The Austrian-born midfielder, who has turned out for Juve on just two occasions both in the 2010/11 Europa League, announced his arrival at his new home with an excellent left-footed finish in October’s 3-1 defeat against Roma, his first in Italy’s top flight. 

      The other obvious Bianconero connection is of course Daniele Rugani. The elegant centre-back was somewhat of a key player for Empoli last year, playing every single minute, 3,240 to be precise, of the Tuscans’ 2014/15 campaign.

      However, the youngster is yet to feature for the Old Lady in Serie A with his only appearance coming in the closing stages of last month’s 2-0 win over Sevilla. 

      3) don't let maccarone score

      Why? The Azzurri have not lost a single Serie A game when Massimo Maccarone has scored, winning seven and drawing four.

      In fact, the former Middlesbrough striker is one of only two current Empoli players to have ever found the net against the Bianconeri, the other being Georgian frontman Levan Mchedlidze in the colours of Palermo in October 2008. But you probably knew that already.   

      4) Send the big men forward

      On the agenda in Vinovo between now and Sunday? Set-pieces and corners.

      In the opening 11 fixtures of the new Serie A campaign, no one has conceded a higher number of headed goals (six) or from more corners (four) than Giampaolo’s men; music to the ears of Mario Mandzukic, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.

      Having said that, Paulo Dybala and Paul Pogba’s trio of penalties have been Juve’s only set-piece successes in 2015/16. 

      5) Super saponara

      The second key tactical issue to be addressed for Massimiliano Allegri’s coaching staff between now and this weekend will be how best to limit the influence of Azzurri playmaker and midfield talisman Riccardo Saponara. 

      Having lost key players such as Elseid Hysaj and Mirko Valdifiori to Napoli over the summer, not to mention Daniele Rugani in the centre of defence, Saponara has stepped up to the plate for Empoli so far this term, playing a part in a staggering 58% of his side’s goals (four strikes and three assists).

      Add that to a team-high 28 attempted shots and 32 dribbles, it won’t be surprising to hear cries of “get it to Ricky!” coming from the Azzurri dugout on Sunday afternoon.  

      6) Giampaolo’s Bianconero blank

      Although the Tuscans’ tactician Marco Giampaolo has shown his men that there is indeed life after Maurizio Sarri by collecting a respectable 14 points from a possible 33 this term, the 48-year old will no doubt be sick of the sight of Juventus.

      The reason for that is that Giampaolo is yet to achieve a positive result against the Bianconeri as a coach, losing all seven of his previous encounters with the Old Lady spread across past spells in charge of Ascoli, Cagliari, Catania and Siena.  

      7) Empoli’s Juve hoodoo

      The 16,800-seater Stadio Carlo Castellani will host Juventus for just the tenth time in its history on Sunday and has indeed been the site of Empoli’s two solitary victories over the Bianconeri, both by a single goal in September 1987 and April 1999.

      Those two triumphs aside, the Azzurri have found it tough going against Juve, losing 13 and drawing three on the other 15 occasions the two teams have crossed paths.

      You may remember Juve’s last trip to Tuscany for the superb interventions of Alvaro Morata and Andrea Pirlo almost a year ago to the day. 

      8) Don't let that lead slip!

      Remember the old cliché that you’re at your most vulnerable after scoring?

      While that may not strictly be factual, Empoli will feel that there is at least a certain degree of truth to such a statement since only winless Hellas Verona have lost more points from winning positions than the Tuscans so far this season.

      The Bianconeri will be looking to shake off an unwanted statistic of their own at the Carlo Castellani, having conceded from their opposition’s first shot on target seven times this season in all competitions. 

      9) Juve need to score early

      Though Giampaolo’s men have failed to capitalise on getting their noses in front, they are yet to concede a goal in the last 15 minutes of a match this term; proof, if ever it was needed, that all the hard yards in pre-season were worth the effort.

      Juve on the other hand haven’t found the net themselves in the opening quarter of an hour in so far in 2015/16. 

      The time to strike for Allegri’s men is undoubtedly just after half-time: Empoli have shipped a league high 11 strikes between the 45-65 minute mark this campaign. 

      10) Azzurri aggression

      Perhaps one of the reasons behind the Azzurri’s consistently solid finishes to ties thus far has been the fact that they’ve sufficiently softened up their rivals in the preceding 75 minutes.

      The 230 fouls committed by Empoli puts them 30 infringements clear at the top of the Serie A standings.  

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