PRE MATCH: JUVENTUS VS EMPOLI
On the eve of Juventus Star Cristiano Ronaldo leaving the Old Lady, for Manchester United, Juventus will try to get back to winning ways vs Udinese on Saturday evening.
The frenzied rumor surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo's unexpected benching was sidelined when Juve went ahead through well-worked goals from the rejuvenated Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado - this season playing in a more advanced role on the wing - but Gerard Defoleu's 83rd-minute equalizer brought Udinese level. To bring a dramatic afternoon to a crescendo, Ronaldo then appeared from the bench to apparently head in a trademark winner, only to be denied after a lengthy VAR check, as he was ruled marginally offside.
Seeking a fast start in recovering the Scudetto - lost to arch-rivals Inter in May - following nine years of unbroken success, returning coach Max Allegri's is known for his calming influence so will certainly earn his considerable pay packet this week, amid another turbulent few days at a club rarely out of the headlines of late.
Fortunately - or perhaps not, given the potential for calamity - Juventus have a 79% win percentage against Empoli - emerging victorious from 19 of their last 24 encounters and winning 11 of their 12 home games against the Tuscan side in Serie A. In fact, the Bianconeri did not even concede a single goal on nine of those occasions - an indicator as to the David versus Goliath nature of this weekend's fixture.
Though a certain striker's future hogs attention, Allegri will have seen some promise in the first hour at the Dacia Arena last time out, as Cuadrado's return to attacking duty after a mid-career switch to a flying full-back role has seen the Colombian score his third goal in his last three league games - as many as in his previous 85.
Set to make his 300th Serie A appearance on Saturday evening, the wing play of Cuadrado and his young colleague Federico Chiesa - who only managed to feature from the bench against Udinese - will be allied to Manuel Locatgelli's s impact in midfield; leaving their opponents with plenty to fear before their trip to Turin.
Also finding their feet under new management, Empoli went down to a 3-1 defeat at home to Lazio on an opening day - handing coach Aurelio Andreaazzol his first competitive defeat after a Coppa Italia win started his reign the previous week.
Any hopes of staying afloat at the top level most probably do not rest on games against the division's heavyweights, such as Juve, but Andreazzoli will still hope to put up a fight at the Allianz Stadium - particularly as their hosts have failed to kill off lower-ranked teams on several occasions over the past 12 months.
Juventus dropped far too many points against bottom-half finishers last term, so will be anxious to immediately bounce back from starting this season in a similar fashion.
They certainly possess the firepower to blow Empoli away, so if they can put together a more even 90-minute performance this time, victory should be a formality against one of their most frequent victims.
Final Prediction: Juventus 3-0 Empoli