24.02.2017 17:15 - in: Serie A S

      #JuveEmpoli: key names and numbers

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      The past, the present and the protagonists: everything you need to know before Saturday night’s match against Empoli at Juventus Stadium
      Overcoming Empoli

      Juventus are pretty used to doing the above. In fact, they’ve won nine out of ten meetings in Turin, including all of the last six. The only occasion in which they dropped points at home to the Azzurri was back in November 1998 following a 0-0 draw.

      During the mid-noughties, it was common for Bianconeri players to score braces against Empoli: Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet famously did so in a 5-1 victory in August 2003, while Fabio Cannavaro was also at the double in January 2006.

      Trezeguet then went one better in October 2007, netting a hat-trick in the space of just 19 second-half minutes.

      The Old Lady have maintained this winning habit at Juventus Stadium, recording 2-0 and 1-0 victories in April 2015 and April 2016 respectively, Mario Mandzukic deciding the most recent contest, while Gianluigi Buffon has only ever kept clean sheets against Empoli within the iconic arena’s walls.

      The form book

      Saturday sees first take on 17th in the table and recent form certainly reflects their contrasting fortunes.

      The Bianconeri, buoyed from their 2-0 victory over Porto in midweek, have also won their last six league games. Three more points against Empoli would see them register a highly impressive 30th straight Serie A success at the Stadium.

      For Empoli, meanwhile, three defeats and a draw in their last four fixtures have left left the Tuscans hovering above the relegation zone, although they still enjoy an eight-point cushion over 18th-placed Palermo.

      Giovanni Martusciello’s men have been far from happy on their travels this term, winning just once away from home (against Pescara in November) and they’ve failed to score in nine of their last 12 matches outside of Tuscany.

      Empoli celebrate their goal last weekend against Lazio in a 2-1 home defeat.
      The main men

      Gonzalo Higuain netted twice against Empoli in the away fixture back in October and the Argentine forward’s current tally of 19 league goals is four more than the whole Azzurri side has mustered altogether.

      But it’s not only Pipita that Saturday’s opponents will be wary of: Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala have also scored twice each against Empoli for Juventus.

      The Tuscans’ main attacking threat, meanwhile, is Levan Mchedlidze. The Georgian forward has been involved in five of his side’s last five goals and tops their scoring charts (five).

      An interesting sub-plot this weekend is that as many as three players could be locking horns with former employers: Claudio Marchisio and Daniele Rugani gained their very first experiences in Serie A with Empoli in 2007/08 and 2014/15 respectively, while midfielder Marcel Buchel grew up in Juve’s youth academy before making two senior appearances in the 2010/11 season.

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