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Serie A champion Juventus set to start title defence against Parma after troubled off-season

08/23/2012 10:42 EDT | Updated 10/23/2012 05:12 EDT
MILAN - Juventus and its fans are hoping to turn their attention from the courtroom to the pitch when the club starts its title defence against Parma on Saturday.

The drama of coach Antonio Conte being banned for 10 months has seemingly had little effect on the defending Serie A champion as stand-in Massimo Carrera has already steered the team to two trophies.

"We're working really hard, the new lads have settled in well and the results are there for all to see," Andrea Barzagli said.

Juventus beat two of its main title rivals for those trophies, defeating Napoli in the Italian Supercup before seeing off AC Milan in the Berlusconi trophy.

Last season's runners-up Milan hosts Sampdoria on Sunday with a much changed roster, while Napoli travels to Palermo.

Juventus is preparing an appeal to Italy's sports arbitration panel against Conte's ban for failing to report match-fixing during the 2010-11 season, when he was coach of then-Serie B team Siena.

"We weren't favourites when we set out last year but we believed in ourselves and we ran out as winners," Barzagli said. "We just need to make sure we keep going out there with the same hunger and determination, otherwise you stop going forward."

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will miss the game with a thigh injury.

Juventus did not lose a single league game last season but Parma has something to prove after losing 4-1 in Turin during that campaign.

"The wound's still there," defender Cristian Zaccardo said. "We fear them because they're the defending champions but we will prove our worth and show we can play.

"I think Conte's absence will matter because he is a charismatic coach, but there are so many champions that they will know how to overcome this absence."

Juventus striker Sebastian Giovinco will face his former club. Giovinco moved to Turin following another impressive season for Parma last year, with his 15 goals and numerous assists helping his team to an eighth-place finish in Serie A.

Milan will have its eye on events in Turin before its own match less than 24 hours later.

It will be a much-changed Rossoneri team which steps out onto the San Siro pitch.

Club icons Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso and Filippo Inzaghi all left the club at the end of last season, along with Mark Van Bommel and Gianluca Zambrotta, while star players Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were sold to Paris Saint-Germain.

Antonio Cassano moved to rivals Inter Milan on Wednesday in a swap deal with Giampaolo Pazzini.

Pato will miss the Sampdoria match after injuring his left thigh in training. It is another setback for the Brazilian who missed most of last season through injury.

Meanwhile, Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri is unsure who he will have available for selection at Palermo, or even if he will be able to take his seat in the dugout.

Goran Pandev and Andrea Dossena were given two-match suspensions, while Juan Zuniga got a one-match ban following a fractious Supercup. Mazzarri was also suspended for one match.

The club will find out the results of its appeal on Friday.

Napoli will definitely be without star player Ezequiel Lavezzi, who was sold to PSG in the off-season.

Saturday's other game sees two other potential contenders for the title do battle as Fiorentina hosts Udinese.

In Sunday's other games, it's: Atalanta vs. Lazio; Chievo vs. Bologna; Genoa vs. Cagliari; Palermo vs. Napoli; Pescara vs. Inter; Roma vs. Catania; and Siena vs. Torino.

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