Juventus still in need of Serie A turnaround
Struggling Juventus got some relief with a 3-0 win over Napoli in the Italian Cup on Wednesday. Now the Turin power needs to pick up its performance in Serie A.
After three losses in its last four league games, Sunday's match at Chievo Verona could provide the perfect opportunity for a turnaround.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is ready to return a month after knee surgery while forward Vincenzo Iaquinta and midfielder Mauro Camoranesi are also preparing to play again after injury layoffs.
Brazilian playmaker Diego scored the opening goal against Napoli and captain Alessandro Del Piero found the target twice to relieve some of the pressure that had been mounting on coach Ciro Ferrara.
Having missed much of this season due to injury, Del Piero hadn't scored since May, when he notched two goals in Ferrara's first match in charge.
"The win over Napoli was good for our morale," Buffon said. "But we're all aware that it won't be sufficient if we're not able to provide some continuity with our results.
"We've got to give our all in every game and play with the same amount of desire that we showed last night, without looking at the standings."
A 3-0 home loss to AC Milan last weekend left Juve in a tie for third with Napoli.
Four-time champion Inter Milan leads with 45 points. Milan is next with 37 points and Juve and Napoli have 33 each.
However, Juventus is still missing several key players.
Striker David Trezeguet will miss more than a month with an ankle injury, midfielder Christian Poulsen is out long term due to a broken leg bone and defender Martin Caceres was diagnosed with a muscle strain on Thursday.
In addition, midfielder Mohamed Sissoko is away playing for Mali at the African Cup of Nations.
Ferrara altered his lineup again against Napoli, using Diego as a playmaker behind Del Piero and Amauri.
"I need a team to play like the way we did last night," Diego said. "I can't do anything by myself. If the team plays well, everything else comes much easier and I have more opportunities to set up the forwards."
On Saturday, Inter visits a Bari side that lost key defender Andrea Ranocchia to injury in a hard-fought loss to Fiorentina last weekend.
Milan, which needed a late goal from Mathieu Flamini to edge third-division Novara in the Italian Cup, hosts Siena on Sunday. David Beckham is expected to line up on the right wing of the forward line for his third consecutive start since beginning his second loan stint with Milan.
Luca Toni will be seeking his first goal since returning to Italy when AS Roma hosts Genoa, while Roma captain Francesco Totti is still out.
Also this weekend, it's: Cagliari vs. Livorno; Atalanta vs. Lazio; Fiorentina vs. Bologna; Parma vs. Udinese; Sampdoria vs. Catania; and Napoli vs. Palermo.