x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Del Piero back but Diego is a doubt for in-form Juventus

Juventus host Livorno today eyeing a fourth consecutive win to preserve their perfect start to the season.

Juventus host Livorno today eyeing a fourth consecutive win to preserve their perfect start to the season. Nine points out of nine have propelled Ciro Ferrara's side to joint-top of Serie A. However, the Old Lady's midweek Champions League exploits have taken their toll and key player absences could derail domestic momentum. A hard-fought 1-1 home draw against French champions Bordeaux has left Juve without the services of the Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro, out for up to three weeks with a thigh injury, as well as midfielders Tiago Mendes (thigh) and Felipe Melo (ankle), both sidelined for a week. Better news for Ferrara is the return to fitness of talismanic captain Alessandro del Piero, The veteran playmaker's back troubles are easing, and he could claim a place on the bench. Del Piero's availability is offset by a doubt over Diego. The Brazilian, a summer recruit from Werder Bremen, kickstarted the thigh injury curse plaguing the Bianconeri. With Mohamed Sissoko and Hasan Salihamidzic also injured, Ferrara is facing an injury headache, yet Livorno arrive in optimistic mood after a goalless draw against AC Milan last weekend.

Midfielder Claudio Marchisio has identified the danger the visitors pose, but believes Juve have the strength in depth to win. "The team is built to compete on all fronts ... (but) ... we can't give anything away. At this stage of the season it is important that we win and take points," he said. Elsewhere, Napoli will look to bounce back from their 4-1 humbling at Genoa when they host Udinese. emegson@thenational.ae

Juventus v Livorno, KO 10.45pm, Al Jazeera +1