Serie A Preview: Juventus v Parma
By Football News
Almost five months have passed since Juventus met Parma in Serie A and both sides have embarked on stunning unbeaten runs ever since.
The two sides clashed at Parma's Stadio Ennio Tardini on November 2 and saw a scrappy affair decided by Paul Pogba's second-half goal.
Defending champions Juve, who entered the match having scored 11 goals in their previous four league fixtures, were made to work for their win and know they will be in for another difficult encounter when they welcome Roberto Donadoni's side on Wednesday.
Since that defeat, Parma have surged up the Serie A table to fifth thanks to a 17-match league unbeaten run that has included the scalps of Napoli and Milan.
Juventus – who enter the match on the back of an unconvincing 1-0 win at rock-bottom Catania on Sunday – are all but guaranteed to win their third successive Serie A crown this season.
Antonio Conte's side are 14 points clear of the second-placed Roma, but midfielder Simone Padoin knows Juve will be tested by the in-form Parma.
Padoin told Juventus' in-house television station: "It will be a close one. They've only picked up a few less points than we have in 2014.
"They're in great physical and mental shape and will come wanting to win the game. However, they'll be up against a Juventus side who don't want to give anyone a way out."
Padoin played a full 90 minutes at Catania as Ghana international Kwadwo Asamoah dropped to the bench.
Conte is having to rotate his squad as he juggles league commitments with their UEFA Europa League campaign, which sees them in the competition's last eight after seeing off Fiorentina 2-1 on aggregate.
And that may give Parma the edge, who will enter Wednesday's fixture fresher, despite being held to a 1-1 home draw by Genoa on Sunday.
Donadoni would love his side to repeat their feats against Milan earlier this month, when Antonio Cassano scored twice as they won 4-2 at San Siro, breaking a Serie A hoodoo that stretched 18 years.
Cassano has netted 11 goals in 27 league appearances this season and his form has seen him linked with a return to Italy's squad for the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup.
He will play a key role for Parma in this encounter and Inter loanee Ezequiel Schelotto and ex-Juve forward Amauri are also in good form.
Pogba will return from suspension for Juve, but defender Andrea Barzagli and midfielder Claudio Marchisio are doubtful for the clash.