Juventus look to end 2012 on a high

Updated: 21 December 2012 16:19 IST

Defending Italian champions Juventus can top a successful 2012 on Friday if they beat struggling Cagliari to stretch their lead at the top of Serie A in the league's last match of the year.

Juventus look to end 2012 on a high

Rome:

Defending Italian champions Juventus can top a successful 2012 on Friday if they beat struggling Cagliari to stretch their lead at the top of Serie A in the league's last match of the year.


The Turin club go into the match seven points ahead of their nearest rivals Inter Milan, who take on Genoa at home on Saturday, and will not even have to face opposition fans, as the game is being played at a neutral venue.

The match has been switched to Parma's Stadio Tardini because the municipal authorities in the Sardinian capital have deemed that the club's ground is not up to scratch for such a high-profile match.

The only bad news for the Old Lady of Turin, who named a 21-man squad for the game, is that the bedrock of their defence, Giorgio Chiellini, is out for two months, again with a right calf injury.

Chiellini suffered a similar injury to his left leg during Italy's 4-0 defeat to Spain in the final of this year's Euro 2012 competition and left the pitch in Kiev in tears.

Defender Leonardo Bonucci returns to the fold after missing Juve's 3-0 home win against Atalanta through suspension, the club said on its website juventus.com.

This weekend's big match is between sixth-placed Roma and AC Milan, who are two points behind in seventh and looking to claw their way back up the table.

The Rossoneri were on Thursday drawn against Spanish giants Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League and coach Massimiliano Allegri said his players will have to be at their best after a disappointing first half of the domestic campaign.

The match is vital for both clubs to keep pace with the leading pack, particularly as only three points separate second from fifth.

Milan have not lost in five matches and will be looking to Stephan El Shaarway, who has scored 14 times this season, for inspiration to overcome a Roma defence that has leaked 27 goals.

But history is not on their side, with Milan having come away from the Stadio Olimpico with all three points only three times in the last 15 years.

Roma, for their part, are hoping to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat to mid-table Chievo, which ended their run of five wins, with the tie memorable for fans of the capital club after a 5-0 victory back in 1998.

Basement club Siena, who on Monday sacked coach Serse Cosmi, take on Napoli, who this week dropped to fifth after being docked two points in connection with a long-running probe into illegal betting.

The penalty -- and the loss of captain Paulo Cannavaro for six months for "failing to report evidence of corruption" -- topped a torrid two weeks for the southern Italy side after four defeats in succession in all competitions.

Napoli lost 3-1 to PSV Eindhoven in a Europa League dead rubber, saw their league title hopes slip away with a 2-1 defeat at Inter, then let in two goals in the last five minutes at home to Bologna to lose 3-2.

Bologna compounded their misery four days later in the Italian Cup by winning 2-1, despite Napoli having dominated the game.

Coach Walter Mazzarri, who gave his players a 90-minute dressing down after that match and accused them of "incredible naivety", will have his work cut out, as Siena, desperate for points, will try to give new manager Giuseppe Iachini a good start.

Sampdoria, who also sacked their coach this week when Ciro Ferrara was shown the door, take on third-placed Lazio.

Friday:

Pescara v Catania (1700 GMT)

Cagliari v Juventus (1945 GMT)

Saturday:

Inter Milan v Genoa (1130 GMT)

Atalanta v Udinese (1400 GMT)

Bologna v Parma

Palermo v Fiorentina

Sampdoria v Lazio

Siena v Napoli

Torino v Chievo

Roma v AC Milan (1945 GMT)



Topics : Lazio Napoli Genoa Chelsea Atalanta Fiorentina Juventus Stadium AC Milan Catania Chievo Juventus Football
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