Fit-again Chiellini ready to propel Juve towards double
A frustrated Giorgio Chiellini is ready to help propel Juventus towards an historic fifth straight Serie A title after returning from a lengthy lay-off.
The combative Italy defender has been confined to the treatment room since late February and missed key fixtures during that month as he battled to shake off a persistent leg injury.
Juve have managed to wrestle control of the table from Napoli in his absence and, ahead of Saturday’s visit of Empoli, the fit-again 31-year-old has pledged to make a winning contribution over the run-in.
"We are approaching the most important part of the season," he told juventus.com.
"There are eight league matches left, and the final of the Coppa Italia, and it better to be out in front and have our destiny in our own hands than to have to rely on others.
"We are planning to win every game, while knowing that it will not be easy, but we do not worry about league tables and long-term plans, instead taking each game as it comes.
"We have proved we are the strongest team and that we deserve the position we occupy, but behind us we have opponents who will not give up and who are having a great season."
Napoli, who travel to face Luigi De Canio’s Udinese, will hope their in-form striker Gonzalo Higuain can bring up his 30th goal of the campaign as the southerners bid to keep Juve in their sights.
Sunday also brings the second Rome derby of the season. Roma have more to play for as they attempt to catch Napoli, while Lazio are all but out of the race for a Europa League berth.
Giallorossi defender Kostas Manolas told asroma.com: "We’re the better side and we have to show that. I’m sure that we’ll achieve our goal."
Elsewhere, Fiorentina will look to capitalise on any slip-up by Roma by zoning in on a Champions League spot with a positive result at home to Sampdoria.
Inter Milan are in fifth place and can begin locking down a European berth by downing Torino at San Siro. Trailing them by six points are their city rivals AC Milan, who must visit Atalanta.
There was a twist in the battle to avoid relegation before the international break, as promoted Carpi escaped the bottom three at the expense of free-falling Palermo.
A third win on the spin could move Carpi three points clear of danger, but they will have to see off surprise package Sassuolo at the Stadio Alberto Braglia to claim it.
Palermo, meanwhile, travel to top-half challengers Chievo seeking a first victory in 10 attempts.
Frosinone are another point behind the Sicilians and tackle Genoa at the Marassi, while basement boys Hellas Verona go to Bologna on Monday night.