Juventus could and perhaps should have taken the lead as early as the second minute when Federico Bernardeschi, starting in place of Dybala, found Higuain with a perfectly-weighted through ball, but Pipita – one on one with keeper, Emiliano Viviano – saw his effort deflected agonisingly wide of the target.
Mario Mandzukic and Juan Cuadrado also got away shots soon afterwards, as the visitors enjoyed an encouraging start to the match, and in the 27th minute Higuain had the ball in the back of the net, but was flagged for offside.
Cuadrado – making his 100th appearance for Juventus – almost celebrated the milestone with the opening goal on the half-hour mark: the Colombian, picked out by a great pass by Pipita, was just a matter of feet from the goal-line when he sent a rasping drive that deflected off Viviano’s back and out, but no corner was awarded.
Having barely threatened for the first 40 minutes, Samp began to up the ante at the end of the half, but Juve’s central defensive pairing of Daniele Rugani and Giorgio Chiellini – wearing the captain’s armband at the Marassi – dealt well with a momentary barrage of crosses whipped in to their box.
On the stroke of half-time, Sami Khedira hammered narrowly wide on the half volley and moments later, Juve appeals for handball on Cuadrado’s cross into the box were turned down, as referee Marco Guida called time on a goalless opening 45 minutes.