Del Piero set for 700th outing as leaders meet

Italy's most illustrious substitute Alessandro Del Piero could make his 700th professional club appearance on Saturday when joint leaders Lazio and Juventus clash at the Olympic Stadium.

Both teams have 22 points although Juventus, who defend Serie A's only unbeaten record, have played 10 games to Lazio's 11.

Del Piero has played only a bit part this season, the 36-year-old often making late cameo appearances as coach Antonio Conte rebuilds the side following two successive seventh-place finishes.

The former Italy forward, who played 103 times for his country, made his first 14 club appearances with Padova in 1992 but the rest have been with Juve.

Only Paolo Maldini, with 859 appearances, has played more.

Del Piero, who announced this week that he intends to move at the end of the season, said he had mixed emotions.

"I suffer on the bench but as captain I am delighted with the good run of form by the team," he told reporters.

"It's such a great time with Juventus at the top of Serie A that I don't see why I should think about my future right now."

BEST START

Juve are enjoying their best start to a season since the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal when they were stripped of the 2005 and 2006 titles and relegated to Serie B.

Both teams were eager to play down the importance of Saturday's match.

Lazio are also wary of a re-run of last season when they led the table early before fading to finish fifth.

"We don't want to repeat last season's mistakes when in the period when we were leading we talked too much," said midfielder Cristian Ledesma.

"It's an important match but we don't want to talk about title-deciders. It's only November so it's too soon."

Edoardo Reja's team have been less than thrilling in some matches and were lucky to come away from Napoli last week with a goalless draw.

Another draw would open the way for AC Milan or Udinese, who are one point behind, to go top.

Champions Milan, who have taken 16 points from their last 18, are at home to Chievo on Sunday and Udinese host AS Roma on Friday.

Napoli follow their epic 2-1 Champions League win over Manchester City by visiting Atalanta on Saturday.

With little strength in depth in their squad, coach Walter Mazzarri said they could be vulnerable following their exertions on Tuesday.

Napoli will also be facing Serie A top scorer German Denis (nine goals).