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Football | Italy

Giampiero Ventura © Gallo Images

Torino aim for impossible in Juve derby



One of Serie A's biggest derbies takes centre stage on Saturday when Torino visit Juventus Stadium with the unlikely hope of denting the Old Lady's bid for a successful title defence.

'Il Grand Torino' were once one of Italy's biggest teams and their history hangs over the city, no more so than at the Superga hill where virtually the entire team was wiped out in a plane crash in May 1949.

Juve are unbeaten against Torino in the sides' last 12 games and on home soil have chalked up 33 wins, 18 draws and 16 defeats over the years.

Indeed the last time Torino beat the Bianconeri was in 1995, when the visitors took all three points in a 2-1 win at the Delle Alpi.

Juve, however, have injury worries over Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal and Uruguayan defender Martin Caceres, with Vidal a doubt and Caceres ruled out.

Juve are also sweating on the fitness of one of their three defenders, Giorgio Chiellini, who missed a disastrous trip to the San Siro last week with a calf injury.

He may start on the bench, and a week after a controversial 1-0 reverse to AC Milan, only their second of the season, some believe Juve could be there for the taking.

"Torino have to treat this like a World Cup final," said former Torino player Paolo Pulici, who scored the most goals against Juve in previous derbies.

"In this kind of game motivation, belief and desire will be key. That's the only way to get one over on such a strong and complete side as Juventus."

An unlikely Juve defeat would be applauded by Napoli, who are right back in the title chase thanks to a recent resurgence and are at home to Pescara.

They are unbeaten this month in all competitions, including the Europa League, and have scored 14 goals in their past six games thanks largely to the combined efforts of Edinson Cavani, Marek Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne.

With Goran Pandev reportedly still not fully recovered from an ankle injury, Insigne is likely to start against his former club in what should be a memorable game for the Italy under-21 player.

While on loan at Pescara last season, Insigne helped their promotion bid by scoring 18 goals in 37 Serie B appearances. This season Pescara prop up the table with 11 points and only three wins from 14.

Fiorentina, meanwhile, face an attacking injury crisis before they host Sampdoria in Sunday's late match.

La Viola have climbed to a deserved third in the table, on the same 28 points as Inter in fourth, thanks a solid run of games this month.

However, their come-from-behind 2-2 draw away to Torino last week exacted a toll.

Former Italy striker Luca Toni is still suffering from the effects of a clash of heads while fellow strike partner Stevan Jovetic, the club's top scorer on six goals, is still sidelined with a calf injury.

Adding to the list of absentees is Serbian striker Adem Ljajic, who will be out for up to three weeks with a thigh knock, and Alberto Aquilani, who picked up an injury in training in midweek.

It means Fiorentina shold line up with Moroccan striker Mounir El Hamdaoui, the scorer of two goals this season – as well as the late leveller in last week's draw – and Haris Seferovic.

AC Milan will look to build on their jump up to ninth place, thanks to their 1-0 win over Juve last week but face a potential banana skin away to Catania, who humbled Lazio 4-0 two weeks ago.

Inter, meanwhile, will be expected to keep the pace with both Juve and Napoli when they host Palermo at the San Siro.

Fixtures:

Friday:

Catania v Milan

Saturday

Juventus v Torino

Sunday

Napoli v Pescara
Genoa v Chievo
Bologna v Atalanta
Inter v Palermo
Lazio v Parma
Siena v Roma
Udinese v Cagliari
Fiorentina v Sampdoria

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