Two sides at opposing ends of the table meet tonight with Juventus pushing for their third successive Scudetto while Livorno are fighting against the drop.

The Bianconeri were on an impressive 22-match unbeaten run in Serie A but suffered a deserved defeat against Rafa Benitez’ Napoli. Juve performed poorly throughout the game with Gigi Buffon’s heroics keeping the result from being all the more embarrassing.

An accumulation of fixtures, including a strong run in the Europa League, has not helped Juve along with a host of injuries to players. Gigi Buffon identified the loss of key players as one of the reasons for the defeat:  “I believe that we have been missing for a month, players of great worth – Barzagli, Ogbonna, we have Marchisio who is slowly coming back, but [yesterday] we also missed Tevez.

“In short, we were and are in an emergency for the past 30-40 days, with three games a week. It is normal that something has to give.

Carlos Tevez was suspended last time out but is set to return to the starting lineup while Arturo Vidal will be suspended having reached the yellow card limit. Angelo Ogbonna and Andrea Barzagli remain doubts for the game and Simone Pepe is a long term absentee however Federico Peluso is available.

Livorno showed resilience to battle back from two goals downs to draw against Inter Milan. Hernanes and Palacio but the Nerazzurri ahead in the first half, but Paulinho found the net early in the second before Innocent Emeghara scored the equaliser with just 10 minutes left on the clock.

With Sassuolo securing a rare win against Atalanta on the road and Bologna being the latest side to surprise Inter this weekend, the pressure is on Livorno. A win would take them out of the bottom three, leapfrogging Chievo and Bologna in the process. Boss Domenico Di Carlo praised their spirit against Inter, claiming that will help them avoid the drop. “We can always improve and I was pleased with the spirit of the team. That is the way to ensure we stay up.”

Emerson and Ibrahima Mbaye are set to miss up to a month through injury, while Alessandro Luci is a long-term absentee.

The Bianconeri have dominated this fixture, winning 14 of the 16 meetings with Livorno having won just once in Turin, way back during World War II.

Player Ratings

By David Tenenbaum

Buffon: 7. At this point, I trust Gigi Buffon more than anyone on this planet. He’s consistently excellent.

Caceres: 6.5. Another solid match from the Uruguayan. The initial few outings of this backline trio were at times shaky but they have since turned into a real solid unit. Caceres may not be Andrea Barzagli, but he’s arguably the best possible replacement.

Bonucci: 6. Decent performance. More or less on point save for a select few moments. His passing returned to form after a sloppy game in that area versus Lyon.

Chiellini: 7. One of those days where his “wreckless” challenges totally worked. Chiellini must have been inspired by playing against the team that he was discovered by. He did have a terrible shot that flew way over goal, but he’s a centerback so, one can’t hold that against him.

Lichtsteiner: 6.5. He’s always reliable out on the right. Lichtsteiner had one of his better outings lately, and he was able to create more offensively than he has been able been able to create recently.

Asamoah: 6.5. Amazing how much he has developed out on the flank. He’s becoming a very dangerous wide player, even in the attacking phase. Today he was again successful at dictating play on the left flank.

Pirlo: 7. Fine passing and somewhat surprisingly fine defending. Pirlo assisted one of Fernando Llorente’s two goals today, which capped off a nice display of passing and directing by the legendary regista.

Pogba: 7. Pogba’s form has definitely improved after a dip during wintertime, but he still didn’t show the Pogba we have sometimes seen. That said he had was effective today. He very well could have had a few assists, as he created some chances for Llorente.

Padoin (84’): s.v. He came, he saw, he conquered. Simone Padoin, owner of two Scudetti.

Marchisio: 6.5. A ton of hustle from Il Principino. Though he was playing in his traditional left sided spot, he filled the role of Arturo Vidal in the sense that he was constantly harassing opponents with his marking and tackling. Pitched in on attack too.

Llorente: 8. The man of the match. The Spanish striker scored two goals, one of which was a great strike on his part and another which could have been stopped by Francesco Bardi in an alternate universe. A phenomenal response to his recent poor form.

Vucinic (77’): s.v. He had less than 20 minutes but he never really got into a rhythm. I was very glad to see him continuing to see time though. I wonder if Conte is trying to work him in, or if they are merely showing him off to potential buyers for the summer.

Tevez: 6.5. Classic Tevez performance, missing only a goal. Got an assist for one of Llorente’s scores, and contributed his general attacking danger and constant effort.

Giovinco (66’): 6. Hardly effective. Could have been due to his time constraint, he created a bit but was mostly not involved.