Serie A Preview: Bologna v Juventus
By Football News
Serie A leaders Juventus will look for Fernando Llorente to continue his recent purple patch in Friday's visit to Bologna.
The Turin outfit - who have won the last two Serie A titles - head into the fixture at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara on a run of six straight league victories, a streak that has taken them three points clear of second-placed Roma.
Juve's latest success came in a 1-0 triumph over Udinese on Sunday, with Spain international Llorente notching the only goal of the game in second-half injury time.
The 28-year-old joined Antonio Conte's side from Athletic Bilbao in the close-season and initially struggled for form, but now appears to have found his rhythm having registered in Juve's last three league games.
The champions have dropped only five points in Serie A this campaign, tasting defeat just once in 14 games in a 4-2 setback to Fiorentina on October 20.
But Conte was dealt a blow before the showdown with Stefano Pioli's men, with the news playmaker Andrea Pirlo is set for an indefinite spell on the sidelines with a knee ligament injury.
However, despite the injury to the Italy international, centre-back Andrea Barzagli is confident the squad has enough depth to cover the midfield maestro's absence.
"Andrea is important to us," he said at the club's ceremony for the Castagna d'Oro, an award given to the fans' player of the year and won by Arturo Vidal for 2012-13.
"He is one of the best players in the world and gives us a lot of experience.
"Admittedly there is no one else quite like him, but we are still a great team and we will try to impose our game on the opposition without him."
In contrast to Juventus' flying start, Bologna languish in 17th position and suffered the ignominy of being knocked out of the Coppa Italia by Serie B outfit Siena on Tuesday.
Only newly promoted Sassuolo have conceded more than their 26 goals in 14 outings, and they have not beaten Juve at home in their last nine attempts.
Pioli's team are also on a four-game run without victory in Serie A, and have won just two of their last 15 top-flight fixtures.