With a big European win set to galvanise them after a sluggish start to Serie A, on Saturday evening, Juventus visit city rivals Torino in the Derby della Mole.
The first Turin Derby of the season represents a chance for Max Allegri’s men to continue their domestic revival, while their hosts will feel confident as they sit one place ahead of Juve in the standings and are unbeaten in four games.
Having reverted to stereotype against the European champions in midweek, Juventus pulled off an excellent 1-0 win over Chelsea in which their performance has since been labelled as a ‘defensive masterclass’.
Denying the Premier League side a single shot on target throughout their Champions League encounter, Juve were able to nullify all of their expensively-acquired attacking talent by adopting the methods of years gone by. As a result, after two games they have six points and are yet to concede a goal – taking a big step towards qualification for the last 16.
After edging past both Spezia and Sampdoria in recent league outings by the same 3-2 scoreline, the Bianconeri have also rallied to 10th in the table having previously suffering the ignominy of a spell in the relegation zone – unthinkable under Allegri’s former reign.
Since his return to the Juventus dugout, things have certainly not gone smoothly for the ex-Milan manager, but three straight wins presents the opportunity for his team to sign off for the forthcoming international break with victory in an intensely contested local affair.
The Old Lady reigns supreme in derbies, having lost only one of the last 30 Serie A clashes with Torino and kept a clean sheet in 62% of their away meetings since the turn of the century. Not only that, but Juve have also scored on each and every occasion during that period – and at a rate of nearly two per match.
However, their fans will be keen for them to build on the sterling efforts of Matthijs de Ligt, Leonardo Bonucci and their defensive colleagues in midweek, as Juventus have conceded in each of their last 20 Serie A games. Leaking a goal to their old rivals on Saturday would mean equalling the club’s longest run without a clean sheet in the competition – a record set back in 1955.
While their more illustrious cousins from the other side of the city divide have been recovering from a rough start to league action, Torino have sailed along quite serenely under new coach Ivan Juric, as they went through September unbeaten – both winning and drawing two of their four fixtures.
Undoubtedly, the Croatian coach has worked hard on tightening up the Granata’s notoriously leaky defence, and his team have conceded the fewest shots in Serie A this season – some 29 fewer than Juventus. In all, Torino have seen less than eight attempts per game threaten Vanja Milinkovic-Savic’s goal so far, representing their best ratio since such data was first recorded in 2004.
Given their positive start, then, Saturday’s match will be the first time they have met Juve with both teams level on points since six years ago, though they could have racked up an advantage over the Bianconeri if they had held onto a one-goal lead versus promoted Venezia last time out.
Allowing Mattia Aramu to equalise Josip Brekalo’s opener deep into the second half was the source of much frustration for Juric, who previously worked wonders with Verona and now seeks to endear himself to the Toro faithful with a Derby win at his first attempt.
Finding goals may be a source of concern, though, as star striker Andrea Belotti remains sidelined for a side that have only scored more than once in a single game against rock-bottom Salernitana.
Torino Serie A form:
Juventus Serie A form:
Juventus form (all competitions):
Despite Ivan Juric’s good work on the Torino defence to date, they are set to be beaten on home soil yet again by their bitterest foes from across the city.
With confidence up and an all too rare clean sheet recently in the bag, Juventus can overcome some significant absences to avoid losing further ground on the other Scudetto contenders before the break for internationals.