Juventus
    Juventus
      23.09.2016 11:50 - in: Serie A S

      #PalermoJuve: key names and numbers

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      From winning runs and past successes in Sicily to key men and contrasting fortunes; Juventus.com sets the scene for Saturday evening
      The Old Lady and the Eagle

      Given the high number of Juventus supporters found in Sicily, it seems right that only Fiorentina can match the Bianconeri’s Serie A record against Palermo at the Stadio Renzo Barbera.

      The men in black and white have returned home across the Mediterranean 13 times in the top-flight and will fancy themselves to add to that tally on Saturday evening.

      Last season’s pair of victories - 3-0 away from home, 4-0 at Juventus Stadium - saw the champions extend their winning run over tomorrow’s hosts to eight, a spell in which they have scored 17 unanswered goals, an average of more than two a game. 

      Despite a poor start to the campaign – more on that shortly - Palermo are traditionally a tough nut to crack on home turf. In fact, of their ten all-time victories at the expense of the Old Lady, four have come at the Renzo Barbera since 2005; 33 Juve wins and 11 draws complete the overall picture of the fixture.

      Contrasting fortunes

      In light of that, it is perhaps unsurprising that Juventus enter this weekend’s encounter in better shape than the Rosanero. Wednesday’s 4-0 rout of Cagliari restored their status as early pacesetters, a mantle briefly lost after defeat to Inter, and saw Massimiliano Allegri’s men find the net for the 17th league game in a row. 

      That said, a midweek success over Atalanta yielded Palermo’s first victory of the campaign so last term’s 17th-placed side will at least have some winning momentum behind them come kick-off on Saturday, even though they are yet to score or register a point on home turf this season, the only team in the division not to have done so.

      The proof of the contrasting early fortunes of the two teams can naturally be sourced back to their relative productivity in front of goal; Juve have registered 34 shots on target so far, the highest of any side in Serie A, four fewer than Palermo have managed in total (38).

      Not that quantity is everything: Allegri’s charges have conceded four times from eight efforts on goal, a statistic to give the shot-shy Sicilians a glimmer of hope tomorrow evening. For the record, three of those strikes came either directly or in the second phase of set-pieces. 

      Super strikers

      While the main storyline on Saturday in Sicily could once again be the homecoming of Paulo Dybala, the Argentine heading to the away dressing room of the Renzo Barbera for the second time since leaving the club in July 2015, the goalscoring headlines thus far have been stolen by compatriot Gonzalo Higuain. 

      While Paulo is yet to score this season, he does the lead the way for assists (2) for the Bianconeri

      Pipita’s first-half effort against Cagliari was his fourth league goal of the campaign and 24th in his last 23 outings. As a result, Higuain has now scored more times in Serie A (75) than the entire Palermo squad put together (61), a gulf however that may well be reduced over the next few months thanks to the arrival of Iliya Nestorovski.

      A summer signing from Croatian outfit Inter Zapresic, Nestorovski has found life in Italy rather straightforward so far, netting with every other shot on goal (two from four), including Wednesday’s crucial winner away at Atalanta.

      With former talisman Franco Vazquez now plying his trade in Sevilla and Dybala shining bright in Turin, the Macedonian looks set to be the next forward star of the Rosanero to be plucked from obscurity to make a name for themselves in Serie A. While Higuain’s goals could be key to the retention of the Scudetto, Nestorovski’s could decide Palermo’s top-flight fate. 

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