Juventus past overshadows bright present

Juventus have made their brightest start to a top-flight season since their return to Serie A in 2007, yet still seem to be focused on the past rather than the future.

Juve, who host Palermo on Sunday, are the only unbeaten team in Serie A after nine games and lie two points behind leading pair Udinese and Lazio with a game in hand over both.

Their impressive new stadium, with the crowd metres from the pitch, is a vast improvement on the soulless Stadio delle Alpi and is already sold out for Sunday - a rarity in a country where empty stands blight many domestic matches.

Yet it has been far from plain sailing.

The club's announcement that talismanic forward Alessandro Del Piero, relegated to the substitutes bench recently, will not be offered a contract at the end of the season and coach Antonio Conte's decision to sideline fans' favourite Milos Krasic have both aroused controversy.

In the last week, more attention has been paid to Juve's past than their present.

On Tuesday, the club lost another attempt to have Inter Milan's 2006 title revoked when Italy's sports arbitration court ruled it was not competent to rule on the issue.

Juve were stripped of the 2005 and 2006 titles for their involvement in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal with the latter re-awarded to Inter.

Juve, who said Inter had also been involved in the scandal, also announced they would be seeking damages from the Italian federation. Inter deny wrongdoing.

On Wednesday, Italian Olympic Committee President Gianni Petrucci, apparently referring to the Turin club, made a hard-hitting speech in which he complained of "too many lawyers."

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"What is happening at the top level of football is unacceptable - it's hooked on legal doping," he said.

"If we carry on like this, top-level football will become an extension of public opinion. I'm talking about a part of top-level football, those who think they are clever."

He added: "What sense is there in [Juventus] going on?"

In reply, Juventus President Andrea Agnelli said he was prepared to take part in a "political round table" to discuss everything which had happened since 2006, a move welcomed by the Italian FA (FIGC).

"Sport on the pitch must outweigh sport in the court rooms," said FIGC President Giancarlo Abete.

Juve will finally try to let their football do the talking against the Sicilians.

In other matches, Fiorentina's new coach Delio Rossi will be thrown in at the deep end when his side host a rampant champions AC Milan, who have won five matches in a row.

Lazio visit erratic Napoli, who are likely to have more than half an eye on Tuesday's potentially decisive Champions League match against Manchester City. Udinese are at Parma.

Struggling Inter, a dismal 17th with eight points and their 2010 treble now just a distant memory, are at home to Cagliari where Davide Ballardini will make his debut as the visitors' third coach of the season.


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