Serie A Preview: Sampdoria - Juventus

David Lynch
Serie A Preview: Sampdoria - Juventus

Juventus kick off the defense of its Serie A crown with a testing trip to Sampdoria on Saturday.

The reigning champion lost just five league fixtures on the way to a second straight title last season, but two of those came against Delio Rossi's men.

Sampdoria earned a shock 2-1 victory over Juve away from home despite Gaetano Berardi receiving an early red card, and the club also defeated Antonio Conte's men 3-2 at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on the final day of the season.

The scorer of three of their five goals against Juve, Mauro Icardi, will not be available this time around, though, following his offseason switch to Inter Milan.

Rossi will hope that young striker Manolo Gabbiadini, whose economic rights remain split between Sampdoria and Juventus, can fill the goalscoring void this term.

Juventus comes into the game off the back of a morale-boosting Supercoppa Italiana victory over Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico. An early strike from Paul Pogba and second-half goals from Giorgio Chiellini, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Carlos Tevez handed the Turin club the win, and ensured it will open their Serie A campaign full of confidence.

Sampdoria kicked off the 2012-13 campaign with three consecutive victories, but separate winless runs of nine and 10 games saw the club go on to finish in 14th position in the Italian top flight.

And if the hosts are to get off to a similarly encouraging start this season, then they will need to cope with a Juve side that will be keen to lay down an early marker.