Juventus
    16.02.2017 16:00 - in: Serie A S

    #JuvePalermo, key names and numbers

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    Juventus meet Palermo on Friday night with sights set on a sixth consecutive league victory and Gonzalo Higuain on extending a red hot start to 2017
    History on our side

    First meets 18th on Friday night at Juventus Stadium as the Bianconeri host relegation threatened Palermo in a fixture that historically has been very kind to the home side.

    It is worth mentioning that very few teams come to Turin and leave with positive results, none in fact in the past 28 matches, and those of a black and white persuasion will rightly be anticipating another Juve victory tomorrow evening.

    Of the 27 encounters between these two in northern Italy, 20 have been won by Juventus, with three draws and four Palermo successes - the last of which coming at the Stadio Olimpico in September 2010 - completing the picture. 

    Four straight home wins all without conceding a single goal have followed since then, with a Scudetto celebration thrown in the middle in May 2013, the Old Lady’s second of five such parties at Juventus Stadium in recent years.

     

    Goals from Sami Khedira, Juan Cuadrado, Paul Pogba and Simone Padoin set up a 4-0 rout last April, a result that took Massimiliano Allegri’s men to within three points of becoming champions while an Edoardo Goldaniga own goal, deflecting Dani Alves’ ambitious, long-range shot into the net, separated the two sides in Sicily in September. 

    Differing fortunes

    As the current league table would suggest, Juventus and Palermo have been worlds apart so far this season.

    While Massimiliano Allegri's men were picking up their fifth straight league victory last Sunday against Cagliari, also their 20th win of the campaign, the Sicilians were slipping to their 16th Serie A defeat at the hands of Atalanta, bringing an end to a mini resurgence that yielded four points from a possible six.

    Tellingly, the Rosanero have mustered just 20 league goals this term, two more than Gonzalo Higuain’s personal tally of 18, and failed to score more than once in all but one of their 24 outings so far, letting loose in an impressive 4-3 away victory against Genoa.

    On that basis, they'll have their work cut out penetrating a Bianconeri defence that, since losing to Fiorentina in January, has kept five clean sheets in a row for an overall total of 12 this season, more than any other team in the top flight. 

    Gianluigi Buffon has kept five consecutive clean sheets in Serie A

    At the other end, The Fratelli’s Chelsea Dagger has enjoyed 67 renditions in the past 30 matches at Juventus Stadium, 28 of which were won by the boys in black and white. 

    In-form frontmen

    Where else to start besides Paulo Dybala? Juve’s top scorer of last season found the net 21 times in 89 appearances for Palermo between 2013 and 2015 and, while the Argentine is yet to reach the creative heights of 2015/16 so far, his attacking talents will surely be given plenty of space to flourish on Friday. 

    La Joya’s clever reverse pass for Gonzalo Higuain against Cagliari on Sunday was the eighth time he has either scored or assisted in this campaign, a respectable enough return nonetheless considering his absence through injury during the winter and his conversion into an attacking midfielder in recent weeks.

    As was the case in Sardinia last week, compatriot Higuain has been the main beneficiary of Dybala’s deeper scheming and space-making this season, not least since the turn of the year. Juve’s number 9 has found the target eight times in 2017, more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues and only Barcelona's Luis Suarez has scored more than Pipita’s 18 from open play. 

    @ghiguain20_9 🔥🔥🔥 #FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuve #CagliariJuve #InstaJuve

    A post shared by Juventus Football Club (@juventus) on

    Still on strikers, the form of summer signing Ilija Nestorovski can be considered as one of the only bright spots in Palermo’s 2016/17 season to date; the Macedonian has had a hand in 12 of the Sicilian outfit’s 20 league goals this term, directly earning nine of their 14 points.

    The 26 year-old’s continued penalty box exploits will however depend heavily on the replacement of Swedish playmaker Robin Quaison who departed for Mainz in January. Following Quaison’s transfer, right-back Andrea Rispoli is the club’s next top scorer with two. 

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