Juventus out to defend lead over Roma

ROME. Juventus’s newfound lead of Italy’s Serie A faces its first test when the champions host Udinese on Sunday four days after a morale-boosting Champions League win.

ROME. Juventus’s newfound lead of Italy’s Serie A faces its first test when the champions host Udinese on Sunday four days after a morale-boosting Champions League win.

Juventus took the league lead for the first time last week after Roma, who had set a new Serie A record of 10 opening wins, slumped to a third consecutive draw.

After securing a 3-1 win over FC Copenhagen on Wednesday to relaunch their bid for a place in the last 16 in Europe, Juve seem to have finally turned the corner following a less than spectacular start to the season.

Udinese sit in mid-table having won only five of their 13 games, but veteran striker Antonio di Natale believes that after positive performances in a 1-0 defeat to Catania and, notably, last week’s 1-0 home win over Fiorentina, they can force a result in Turin.

“Our game is improving and we showed that against Fiorentina and Catania,” said Di Natale.

Juventus, meanwhile, could decide to give Fabio Quagliarella a start after the striker, who was an unused substitute in Wednesday’s win, scored a hat-trick in an 8-1 friendly win over Serie D side Derthona on Thursday.

Conte, however, will have to do without Ghanaian midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah, who is suspended, and is still without injured Swiss winger Stephan Lichsteiner.

An upset for Udinese would boost Roma’s hopes of regaining top spot after a surprising scoreless draw at home to Cagliari last week.

Roma would go top, at least for a few hours, with a win away at Atalanta on Sunday afternoon but coach Rudi Garcia claims the objective this season, having spoken recently of the Italian league title, is a place in Europe.

Napoli saw their titles hopes dented last week in a shock 1-0 home defeat by Parma which left them third but six points behind Juve.

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