18.03.2017 12:30 - in: Serie A S

      #SampJuve: key names and numbers

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      Gianluigi Buffon’s big 65 minutes, past successes at Samp and much more: everything you need to know about Sunday’s match at the Marassi
      Flying form

      Juventus return to the site of one of their four league defeats this season as they travel to Genoa to face Sampdoria on Sunday afternoon.

      That 3-1 reverse at the Marassi on 27 November marked one of the lowest points of an otherwise excellent season so far but following last weekend’s raucous 2-1 victory over Milan and being coupled with Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals, the leaders will head to the coast in the highest spirits this time. 

      Last week's win over Milan saw Juve return to winning ways in Serie A

      Trying to prevent them from picking up their 24th Serie A victory will be a red-hot Samp, fresh off the back of an impressive run of results themselves. Luis Muriel’s 71st-minute decider in the Derby della Laterna last time out set up a fifth win in seven games for Doria, who have earned more points already this campaign (41) after 29 matches than they did in the entirety of last season (40).

      The Blucerchiati’s renaissance could not have come at a better time; before overcoming Roma 3-2 on 29 January, they had picked up just two points from their previous six matches. Six weeks on and Sunday’s hosts join Juventus and Lazio as one of the three undefeated sides in the top-flight in the past five matchdays.

      Central to their upturn in fortunes has been a radically improved efficiency in front of goal, particularly on home turf where Marco Giampaolo’s men have scored 10 times in four games, scoring three or more in three of them. 

      Sampdoria have picked up 15 points from a possible 17 since the end of January

      What to say of Juventus’ defence on the other hand? Quite simply, no other team has conceded fewer goals (19) or shots (243) than the Bianconeri so far this term. While Sampdoria sit top of the tree for points recovered from losing positions (15), don’t expect Juve to let any eventual leads slip on Sunday afternoon; once in front in a game, the Old Lady has not won on just one occasion, against Inter on 18 September.

      With 25 points from a possible 27, Juventus remain the team to beat in Serie A and on course to lift a sixth consecutive Scudetto title. 

      Past encounters

      The fourth trophy of that history-making run was in fact sealed with victory over Sampdoria in May 2015 thanks to Arturo Vidal’s first-half strike. The Bianconeri have returned home happy from Liguria 21 times in the past, drawing 18 and losing 19 of the remaining 37 trips to the notoriously atmospheric Stadio Luigi Ferraris. 

      While Massimiliano Allegri’s men could not have chosen a worse time to face Samp – immediately before the international break and immediately after a euphoric derby victory – they can take comfort in the fact that Sunday’s opponents have mustered just one point at their expense in their last seven league encounters; that was a 1-1 draw at Juventus Stadium in December 2014.

      Considering that nine Juve goals have found the back of the Doria in 180 minutes of football on the final day of last season (5-1) and in late October this (4-1) and that the home side are bang on form themselves, we can expect a few goals at least at one end of the field on Sunday.

      Goals from Sami Khedira and Paul Pogba settle proceedings in this fixture last season. 

      Who to watch at the Marassi

      Where else to start besides Paulo Dybala?

      Five of Juventus’ last seven Serie A strikes have either been converted (three) or assisted (two) by the Argentine who will be looking to rediscover his scoring touch away from Juventus Stadium: just one of his league goals so far has come on the road. 

      Paulo Dybala celebrates his first and only away league goal of the season against Empoli on 2 October

      Fellow South American Luis Muriel meanwhile needs one more himself to match his own personal record for a season of 11, set in his time with Udinese in 2012/13. The Colombian has had a hand in 15 of his team’s goals this season.

      Helping him to shoulder the scoring burden has been Czech striker Patrick Schick. A summer arrival from Sparta Prague, the young forward has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in Italy so far, netting seven times for his new club, six of which have come from the bench, a Serie A record this season. 

      Returning to black and white matters, Gianluigi Buffon is 65 minutes away from overtaking Giampiero Boniperti as the Bianconero to have played the most minutes for the club, the skipper currently stands at a whopping 39,616.


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