Serie A Preview: Sampdoria v Juventus
By Football News
Juventus kick off the defence of their Serie A crown with a testing trip to Sampdoria on Saturday.
The reigning champions lost just five league fixtures on their way to the title last term, but two of those came against Delio Rossi's men.
Sampdoria earned a shock 2-1 victory over Juve away from home despite Gaetano Berardi receiving an early red card, and also defeated Antonio Conte's men 3-2 at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on the final day of the season.
However, the scorer of three of their five goals against Juve, Mauro Icardi, will not be available this time around following his close-season switch to Inter.
Rossi will hope that young striker Manolo Gabbiadini, whose economic rights remain split between Sampdoria and Juventus, can fill the goalscoring void this term.
Juventus come into the game off the back of a morale-boosting Supercoppa Italiana victory over Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico.
An early strike from Paul Pogba and second-half goals from Giorgio Chiellini, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Carlos Tevez handed the Turin club the win, and ensured they will open their Serie A campaign full of confidence.
Sampdoria in fact kicked off the 2012-13 campaign with three consecutive victories, but separate winless runs of nine and 10 games saw them go on to finish in 14th position in the Italian top flight.
And if they are to get off to a similarly encouraging start this term then they will need to cope with a Juve side who will be keen to lay down an early marker.