Pitchside Europe

European Match of the Weekend: Sampdoria v Juventus

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Title holders Juventus look set for further dominance as Serie A kicks off at the weekend against an ugly backdrop of match-fixing suspensions and racism.

Juve, champions for the last two seasons, have been further strengthened by Carlos Tevez's arrival from Manchester City and sounded a warning last Sunday by thumping Lazio 4-0 in the season-opening Supercup.

The match also illustrated Serie A's deep-rooted problems as it was marred by racist abuse from the stands while Lazio were missing captain Stefano Mauri as he began a six-month suspension related to a match-fixing scandal.

Also suffering from dilapidated stadiums, financial problems and hooliganism, Serie A has lost prestige over the years with top players preferring to head to Spain, England and, increasingly, Germany and France.

Juventus coach Antonio Conte said last season that it would be years before an Italian team would win the Champions League again.

However, there have been some mildly encouraging signs during the summer, particularly the signing of Tevez by Juventus, his fellow Argentine Gonzalo Higuain by Napoli and prolific German Mario Gomez by Fiorentina. Those follow AC Milan's acquisition of Mario Balotelli in January.

Italian teams also showed themselves to be remarkably restrained in the transfer market.

Napoli, who also signed Dries Martins (PSV Eindhoven) and Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), were the biggest spenders but only after selling Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani to Paris St Germain for 64 million euros (£55m).

After qualifying twice for the Champions League in the last three seasons, Napoli, who host Bologna on Sunday, are clearly determined to make another challenge for what would be only their third title.

However, with so many new players, and with Rafael Benitez having replaced Walter Mazzarri as coach, they remain an unknown quantity and may take time to find their feet.

Juventus, on the other hand, have kept the core of the team which has dominated over the last two seasons and have the benefit of playing in a stadium which they own, and is always full and noisy.

Juve, who finished nine points clear of Napoli last season, visit Sampdoria on Saturday for their opener.

Both teams' records last season:

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Opta match stats:

- Juventus lead by 62 wins to 27 against Sampdoria in Serie A, with 37 draws completing the record.

- Sampdoria were the only side able to beat Juventus both home and away last season in Serie A.

- Sampdoria are unbeaten at home versus Juve since March 2006 – since then the Blucerchiati have secured two wins and three draws against them.

- This fixture has been played only once on MD1 of a Serie A season - back in September 1982, when Samp won 1-0.

- Sampdoria have won their opening game of a Serie A season on the last three occasions that they have been in the league - versus Catania in 2009, Lazio in 2010 and AC Milan in 2012.

- Juventus have lost their opening game of the season only once over the last 29 Serie A campaigns (vs Bari in August 2010).

- The Old Lady have won on MD1 in 10 of the last 12 campaigns, keeping six clean sheets in the process.

- Last season, Juventus kept 19 clean sheets; at least five more than any other Serie A side.

- 11 different Juventus players found the net last season in Serie A; no other side has fewer.

- Only two of these players reached double figures in terms of goals - Mirko Vucinic and Arturo Vidal (10 each).

European matches covered live this weekend on Eurosport-Yahoo!:

Friday

Borussia Dortmund v Werder Bremen (19:30)

Saturday

Bayern Munich v Nurnberg (14:30)

Verona v AC Milan (17:00)

Sampdoria v Juventus (19:45)

Sunday

Malaga v Barcelona (20:00)

Nantes v Paris Saint-Germain (20:00)

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