ROME (AP) — Juventus is determined to show better form this weekend with its old nemesis coming to Turin. Zdenek Zeman, meanwhile, would like nothing more than to end Juve's 44-match unbeaten streak in the Italian league.
Tuesday's 0-0 draw at Fiorentina was Juve's worst performance of the season and now the Bianconeri host an unpredictable Roma squad coached by Zeman, whose accusations 14 years ago led to a disturbing doping investigation into Juventus.
Also this weekend, striving Napoli visits nearly as impressive Sampdoria; AC Milan plays Parma and Inter Milan hosts Fiorentina at the San Siro.
Juve and Napoli share the lead with 13 points each. Sampdoria is three points behind despite a one-point penalty from a betting scandal, while Inter and Lazio are four points behind.
Juventus was thoroughly outplayed by Fiorentina and was fortunate to come away with a draw Tuesday, ending the club's perfect start to the Serie A season.
Juve went all of last season undefeated in the Italian league. It's tough to imagine a repeat this campaign with the added challenge of the Champions League.
Juve opened the Champions League with a 2-2 draw at defending champion Chelsea last week and will host Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday for its first home match in the top club competition in three years.
Against Fiorentina, midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo was subjected to a rare coaches' choice substitution, with the 33-year-old struggling to maintain his form. His replacement midway through the second half was 19-year-old French player Paul Pogba.
"We have to find a way to let (Pirlo) train more. By playing every three days he doesn't have any time to train and that's affecting him," said interim Juventus coach Massimo Carrera, who is filling in while Antonio Conte serves a 10-month touchline ban for match-fixing violations stemming from when he coached Siena two seasons ago.
Diminutive forward Sebastian Giovinco is also struggling, with Mirko Vucinic the team's only consistent performer in attack.
Still, the Turin club isn't panicking.
"Juve continues to not lose and that's a sign of strength," Carrera said.
Pointed accusations over Juve's strength back in 1998 by Zeman — during his first stint as Roma coach — led to a trial spearheaded by Turin anti-doping prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello.
In 2004, Juventus physician Riccardo Agricola was convicted of administering banned substances, including the hormone EPO, to Juventus players from 1994-98, and was handed a suspended sentence of 22 months. He was cleared on appeal a year later.
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