Juventus boss Antonio Conte is back on the bench against Palermo, after a four month suspension for his role in the latest Italian betting scandal. But considering Juve are already top in Serie A, and have advanced to the knockout stages of the Champions League, will Conte's presence really make much difference?
Perhaps if the opponent were someone other than Palermo. But with the rosanero hovering just above the relegation zone, they don't seem all that intimidating. They've looked slightly better in recent weeks, hammering Catania 3-1 in the Sicilian Derby, and losing to Inter Milan only by virtue of an own goal by Santiago Garcia. But still, a loss is a loss, and it did nothing to lift Palermo higher than two points above the drop -- nor could it have lifted their spirits.
Palermo could have been the ones to take advantage of a sluggish Inter side last week, but instead faltered. The visitors found themselves able to take advantage of the nerazzurri defense, but couldn't manage to slot the ball home, even from close range. The story of Palermo this season, really.
Juventus, on the other hand, will be buzzing after securing first in their Champions League group, even if their 1-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk wasn't exactly enthralling. Still, the Old Lady will be hoping it bolsters their run at the scudetto. Prior to their 3-0 derby victory over Torino last weekend, Juve had lost to AC Milan and drawn with Lazio, allowing Napoli to creep to within two points of first.
Expect this match to look more like the second half against Torino, although it's unlikely the bianconeri will need a man advantage to take control of the hapless Palermo. With no need to trouble themselves in defense, the visitors will likely push forward until the rosanero break. It will likely be nothing more than a matter of time.
Palermo Injuries and Suspensions
Abel Hernandez and Andrea Mantovani (injured)
Juventus Injuries and Suspensions
Seba sits out a one-match ban after picking up a yellow last week, so Conte will likely turn to Fabio Quagliarella to partner Mirko Vucinic. But who knows, we may have a rare Nicklas Bendtner sighting!
Match Date / Time: Sunday, December 9 at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET
Venue: Stadio Renzo Barbera, Palermo
TV: Sky Calcio 1, ESPN UK, BeIN Sport