Serie A: Ex-players hold key to Juve`s pursuit of Milan
Juventus hope former forward Amauri does not suddenly find his form this weekend and further curtail their Serie A title bid while another ex could boost their chances if Sebastian Giovinco downs leaders AC Milan.
Brazil-born Amauri signed for Juventus for 22 million euros from Palermo in 2008 but after a promising start his career nosedived and he now plays for struggling Fiorentina, who host Juve on Saturday (1945 GMT).
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli gave Amauri his international debut in 2010 but it turned out to be his only cap and the 31-year-old`s last goal was on loan at Parma last April.
"Amauri has promised me his first goal for Fiorentina this Saturday," the Florence club`s chief executive Sandro Mencucci told reporters.
Juve, who have slipped four points behind champions Milan after drawing three straight matches, will think it is just their recent luck if Amauri breaks his drought against them.
Still, to many Juve fans the fact they are in a title race after several seasons of woe following their 2006 match-fixing demotion is progress enough.
President Andrea Agnelli backed coach Antonio Conte this week for helping return the Turin club, the most successful Italian side domestically, to the upper echelons of the game.
"The manager and his players are enjoying a truly commendable season" he told reporters.
"They know that there are 11 championship games to go and possibly another two in the Coppa Italia, they`re aware that there`s the possibility to obtain prestigious results so we`ll be perfectly calm in trying to reach our targets."
While hoping Amauri does not score on Saturday, Juve will be urging on fellow former forward Sebastian Giovinco when his stuttering Parma side entertain Milan (1700).
Robinho is a slight doubt for Milan after injuring his calf in training while Philippe Mexes is banned but Clarence Seedorf and Maxi Lopez may be fit enough to return on the bench.
Milan centre back Daniele Bonera, who may again fill in for Mexes, is an ex-Parma player and is expecting a difficult game.
"Opponents give something extra when they play Milan and Parma at home have always done well. We have to be careful," he told Milan Channel before hailing Antonio Nocerino, the midfield revelation of the year after average spells at Juve and Palermo.
"It`s a great advantage for us to have a player like Nocerino. When he came in, perhaps we didn`t expect that he could do what he is doing."
Fourth-placed Napoli, fresh from their Champions League heartbreak in the last 16 against Chelsea, travel to Udinese in fifth on Sunday (1945) as the fight for the third and final Champions League qualifying spot for next term hots up.
Lazio, who sit third and have a two-point cushion over Napoli and Udinese, head to in-form Catania on Sunday (1400).
Seventh-placed Inter Milan, eliminated from the Champions League by Olympique Marseille on Tuesday, host Atalanta (1400) as they continue their unlikely quest to reach next season`s competition by making up an eight-point gap to the Romans.