PRE MATCH: JUVENTUS VS FIORENTINA.
Having stepped up a gear in their pursuit of the Serie A-leading Milan clubs recently, Juventus host faltering Fiorentina onTuesday evening, aiming to end a tumultuous year on a triumphant note.
In a 4-0 win over Parma at the weekend, Juventus finally managed to put together an entirely convincing victory - over a recently improved side.
Taking a clear step forward compared to Serie A showings so far, Juve pushed aside their propensity for draws - of which they have six from 13 games - to maintain an unbeaten start to the league campaign with help from a Cristiano brace.
Bianconeri coach Andrea Pirlo has endured a turbulent start to his debut season, but was full of praise for his charges' efforts last week. Highlighting the energetic midfield contributions of Aaron Ramsey and American revelation Weston Mckinnie Pirlo also emphasised the collective attitude of his team.
Juve have statistically the best defence in Italy so far (just 10 goals conceded in 13 games) and possession is a priority, with the Old Lady currently averaging above 60% - the highest in Serie A.
Their former midfield maestro demands his side must press high, be aggressive and exert control - tests which were all met at the Tardini - so fearful Fiorentina should beware a side with renewed confidence and vigour, as the champions hunt down what would be an incredible 10th successive Scudetto.
A 1-1 home draw against high-flying Sassuolo last Wednesday, followed by a repeat scoreline in Saturday's encounter with Verona, seems to have subdued criticism of returning head coach Cesare Prandelli and his players - who had previously been sent to a training camp after their disappointing 3-0 defeat to Atalanta.
At a venue where they were soundly beaten 3-0 last time these clubs met in February, few would bet against similar treatment being meted out by the hosts, whose long-time supremacy in this relationship is a constant thorn in the Viola's side.
All signs point toward a home win - it just remains to determine the extent of the damage Juventus can bestow upon a downtrodden Fiorentina outfit on Tuesday.
Andrea Pirlo's side may take their foot off the gas if they can secure a safe lead on home turf, as they head into the brief winter break ready for a welcome recharge before taking on Milan and Inter in January which will see how Juventus responds in those games.
Final Score: Juventus 3-0 Fiorentina