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Liga MX

Time to drop Granit Xhaka?

By ESPN Staff

Marotta warns title tough defence

Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta has warned of a bumpy road ahead in the club's bid to retain their Serie A title this season.

Two matches into the new campaign, ahead of the recent international break, and Juventus again lead the way following 2-0 and 4-1 defeats of Parma and Udinese, on the back of a 4-2 season-opening victory over Napoli in the Italian Super Cup.

With the Juventus heading to Genoa on Sunday, Marotta said: "We're the defending champions and viewed by others as the team to beat. Every season is different, though, and the pitch will dictate who the best side is. We have the advantage of a year's work with (Antonio) Conte and it will be down to him to get the same drive as last season out of the players.''

Juventus will be wary of casting one eye on one of their targets this season, the Champions League, with their campaign starting on Wednesday when they take on title holders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

"We haven't set any particular targets for Europe,'' added Marotta. "We just want to face every game with the same drive shown in the championship, Super Cup and Coppa Italia.

"One of the tasks that lies ahead for the coaching staff is assessing how to tackle our fixtures in the best possible way, through the prevention of injuries and workload that reflects the sheer number of games.

"We don't possess a great deal of experience in this sense, but we can count on the preparation and professionalism of Conte and his backroom staff.''

Second-placed Napoli and Lazio, currently third, and the only other two teams with six points from two games in Italy's top flight, are at home to Parma and away at Chievo respectively.

At the foot of the table, a draw in their last game before the international break means Siena are only on minus five points after starting the campaign with a six-point deduction for the role the club played in a match-fixing scandal. Siena now take on one of four teams above them in the table without a point in Udinese knowing a win is vital to get their season started.

Midfielder Alessio Sestu said: "It is a special year, we cannot deny it. It is necessary for all of us to believe and to always fight, and a victory now would serve us well to allow us to kickstart our season. Udinese have started the season with two negative results, but we should not be deceived because they have a good squad and an excellent coach.

"It will be a hard game, but we should obtain an important result''.

Atalanta, deducted two points for match fixing and currently on minus one after a draw in their opening two games, head to AC Milan on Saturday, whilst Palermo, like Udinese without a point, host Cagliari.

Other games on Sunday see Roma at home to Bologna, Catania at Fiorentina, Torino hosting Inter and Sampdoria, with two wins out of two but deducted a point for match-fixing, heading to Pescara.


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