07.11.2015 17:00 - in: Serie A S

      Fantastic five in Tuscany

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      The Old Lady’s away record against Empoli reads five wins, two defeats and just as many draws. Here’s the who, when, where and how of that quintet of successes

      As a relative newcomer to top flight, having spent the majority of their 86-year history in the lower reaches of the Italian football pyramid, Empoli will welcome Juventus for just the tenth time on Sunday and it is on home turf that the Azzurri have picked up their only previous victories over the Bianconeri in 1987 and 1999.

      Nonetheless, the Old Lady go into this weekend’s tussle in Tuscany with an overwhelmingly dominant record in this fixture, claiming 42 out of a possible 54 Serie A points from this weekend’s hosts.

      A win on Sunday would be victory number six for Juve at the home of last season’s 14th-placed side and if the previous five are anything to go by, expect spectacular strikes and plenty of goal-mouth action. 

      28/09/1986 Empoli 0-1 Juventus

      After scoring ten in their previous two matches, against Valur (7-0) in the European Cup and Avellino (3-0) on Matchday 2 of the 1986/87 season, Rino Marchesi’s Juventus went into the first ever meeting between these two teams in typically high spirits.

      Moved from Empoli’s long-term Stadio Carlo Castellani base to Florence’s Stadio Comunale for safety reasons. the Tuscan minnows showed little sign of their humble background, matching the reigning champions every step of the way in a keenly-contested first 45 minutes.

      It was the visitors though who carved out the more presentable opportunities, Michael Laudrup seeing his low shot well held by former-Bianconeri stopper Giulio Drago and Sergio Brio firing as the defender just wide from the edge of the penalty area.

      Juve’s quality eventually shone through as Brio ventured forward once more to bundle home Michel Platini’s corner from close-range to give the Bianconeri what was, on balance, a well-deserved opening goal.

      When a Juventus side takes the lead late on, there is often just one outcome and sure enough Adelino Zennaro’s glancing header was the closest the home team came to threatening the champions’ advantage who saw out the remaining quarter of an hour with comfort to seal a third consecutive league win. 

      19/4/1998 Empoli 0-1 Juventus

      Although the Azzurri went on to secure their top flight status the following May and seal a historic 1-0 home win over the Old Lady just a few months later, the two sides would not meet again until the late 1990s after back-to-back relegations had condemned Empoli to a return to Italy’s third tier.

      On that occasion in the spring of 1998, the encounter would be decided once more by a single goal, this time courtesy of midfielder Fabio Pecchia. 

      With Empoli making the much stronger start, Carmine Espositio’s spurning a pair of golden opportunities, the Bianconeri would once more be made to work hard for the three points.

      With the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Edgar Davids, Didier Deschamps and Zinedine Zidane in their ranks, Juve eventuallly began to assert themselves, with the latter denied superbly by a flying Marco Roccati just before the interval.

      It was the substitution of Marcello Lippi’s French stars Zidane and Deschamps midway through the second period however that would prove decisive as Zizou’s replacement Pecchia, now assistant manager of Real Madrid, stole in to slide home Marcelo Zalayeta’s flick-on to put the Bianconeri in front with 20 minutes to play.

      Empoli were not beaten yet though, as excellent stops from Angelo Peruzzi first from a point-blank header and then from a dipping volley from distance resisted the home side’s spirited comeback.

      Alessio Tacchinardi’s red card and the continuining pressure on the visitors’ goal seemed to point towards a draw as the most likely outcome but once again Lippi’s men dug deep to hold on for a massive three points in the race for the title. 

      21/09/2002 Empoli 0-2 Juventus

      Juve’s next winning return to the Stadio Carlo Castellani in September 2002 would pan out as many other testing away ties had done before it: a tight game of few chances ultimately decided by two moments of class from Alessandro Del Piero.

      The first as Juve’s number 10 outfoxed the Empoli backline with a superb diagonal run to earn and convert a sixth-minute penalty, the second as il Pinturicchio chested down Igor Tudor’s lofted through pass before rifling into the top corner past a stranded Gianluca Berti. 

      Del Piero could even have had a thoroughly deserved hat-trick had he not glanced Marcelo Salah’s teasing left-wing cross just past the post moments before the final whistle.

      As they had done four years previously, Lippi’s charges had to rely though on some smart goalkeeping, this time from Gianluigi Buffon, as a series of sharp saves either side of half-time maintained the away side’s lead.

      With Buffon at one end, Del Piero at the other and Pavel Nedved and Mauro Camoranesi in between, Juve would go on to lift a 27th league title the following spring on the way to reaching a fifth Champions League final. 

      11/09/2005 Empoli 0-4 Juventus

      The Bianconeri were back in Tuscany three years later to produce their finest Carlo Castellani showing to date.

      In the absence of Del Piero, the scoring duties fell to the lethal pairing of David Trezeguet and Zlatan Ibrahimovic who both had too much for the Empoli backline on a superb afternoon for Fabio Capello’s side.

      Where previous Juve sides had struggled to break the Tuscans’ stubborn rearguard, Juve’s 2005 vintage had no such trouble putting the tie beyond the Azzurri in a matter of first-half minutes. 

      After Trezeguet’s naturally ruthless finish from Ibrahimovic’s excellent flicked assist, Patrick Vieira’s emphatic near-post header and Mauro Camoranesi’s deflected third all within the space of 15 minutes, the match as a contest was effectively over.

      Juve would save the best until last shortly after the break as the Frenchman raced onto Nedved’s chipped pass to delicately loft over the goalkeeper for his second goal of the match and 99th in the famous black and white jersey.

      If inspiration is to be drawn from past visits to the Stadio Carlo Castellani, it should be from this one.  

      1/11/14 Empoli 0-2 Juventus

      Fabulous strikes would also be the theme of the Bianconeri’s ninth away encounter with Empoli.

      Having suffered a first league defeat of the season at the hands of Genoa a few days previously, Massimiliano Allegri’s took on Maurizio Sarri’s newly-promoted Empoli looking to return to winning ways.

      After a first half of few chances, the best of which falling to Arturo Vidal, the Bianconeri emerged for the second 45 with a renewed vigour, coming close first through Claudio Marchisio following excellent work from Kwadwo Asamoah and then from Giorgio Chiellini’s header that bounced inches wide of the target.

      The misses would matter little though as Andrea Pirlo curled up and over the wall in typically effortless fashion to give Allegri’s men the advantage with just under half an hour remaining. 

      Following Buffon’s magnificent reaction save at the other end, Juve soon doubled their lead and put the game to bed, Alvaro Morata smashing home from Carlos Tevez’s lay-off. 

      A victory by the same scoreline at Juventus Stadium five months later would be Juve’s 13th in 18 against Sarri’s men, a record that bodes well for meeting number 19 on Sunday. 

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