Juventus captain Alessandro Del Piero will be seeking to maintain his goalscoring patch when Genoa visit Turin's Stadio Olimpico on Thursday, a match moved forward to accomodate the Italy v Argentina rugby union test on Saturday.
The 34-year-old FIFA World Cup™-winner has scored in each of the last three matches, including a brace away to Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. So far this season, Del Piero has hit three league goals and four in the Champions League to continue a purple patch that made him last season's Serie A leading scorer with 21.
It means Juventus now sit three points behind league leaders Inter Milan and top of Champions League group H, much to the delight of coach Claudio Ranieri. The ex-Chelsea coach told the club website, "I'm happy with the organisation of the team, compact and fit. The boys have demonstrated the desire to fight. In such a group great players shine. Alex (Del Piero) is magic at the moment."
Juventus though will come up against a forward in even better form than Del Piero. Genoa's Diego Milito is the league's current leading scorer with nine so far, including a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Reggina at the weekend. It leaves Italy's oldest club comfortable in seventh place.
The Argentine, who has scored four goals in 16 appearances for his national team, was with Genoa in 2004-2005, before spending three years in Spain with Real Zaragoza. He returned this summer, and his form is making one or two of the bigger teams regret not taking a chance on him.
One player who is aware of how well both Milito and his team have done so far is Juventus' injured goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who will be out of action until 2009 with a back problem. The Italy No1 told the Gazzetta dello Sport: "I like Genoa. They play good football, have a good coach and a formidable centre-forward in (Diego) Milito."
Alongside Milito is likely to be ex-Juventus striker Raffaele Palladino, who left Turin for the greater opportunities available at Stadio Luigi Ferraris. "We can't fear anything or anyone," Palladino told the Genoa website. "We will take the field with the same calmness that we did the last match. We have to know to wait and strike at the right moment. We don't have any margin for error."