Juventus vs. Udinese preview: Juve hope to kick-start their 2013

Valerio Pennicino

Juventus' lead at the top of Serie A has been cut to just three points after one point from their opening two matches of 2013 whilst the visiting Zebrette are unbeaten in six matches.

Following their shock home loss to Sampdoria on the first weekend back after the winter break, Juventus' shaky form continued last week with a 1-1 draw at Parma. Coupled with wins from their nearest rivals, Napoli and Lazio (and the return of two deducted Napoli points, following a match-fixing appeal), this has seen Juve's lead at the top of Serie A cut to just three points and means they desperately need a win to re-charge the batteries in their faltering title charge.

Udinese look to have finally hit some sort of form, with a 3-0 win over Inter and last week's 3-1 victory against Fiorentina extending their unbeaten run to six matches and placing them in eighth, a solitary point from Milan in seventh and two from Roma in sixth. In Luis Muriel, Udinese appear to have found a perfect strike partner for Antonio Di Natale, the pair scoring all of the goals between them in the Zebrette's last four matches.

The match should be an interesting one, with Udinese's win over Fiorentina last week built on quick counter-attacking, some clinical finishing and a healthy slice of luck. Any potential win in the Juventus Stadium will require the same combination as despite their poor form, Juventus remain a formidable outfit and will look to dominate possession and push their fellow Bianconeri back into their own half for long spells.

Juventus are hampered by the continued absence of Giorgio Chiellini, whilst Kwadwo Asamoah will miss out due to the African Cup of Nations. Udinese's number one goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic will miss the match with a dislocated finger suffered in the win over Fiorentina whilst Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and Mehdi Benatia are both away at the ACON.

Juventus Injuries and Suspensions

Out: Giorgio Chiellini, Nicklas Bendtner, Simone Pepe (injured), Kwadwo Asamoah (African Cup of Nations). In doubt: Mirko Vucinic, Andrea Pirlo, Fabio Quagliarella, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio.

Udinese Injuries and Suspensions

Out: Zeljko Brkic (injured), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Mehdi Benatia (African Cup of Nations). In doubt: Mathias Ranegie.

Match Date/Time: Saturday 19th January 2013, 8.45pm local time, 2.45pm ET

Venue: Juventus Stadium, Turin

TV: Sky Calcio 1, Premium Calcio (Italy), RAI Internazionale, beIN Sport (USA), ESPN UK/HD (UK)

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