Lichtsteiner: No Juve crisis
Stephan Lichtsteiner has rejected any talk of a crisis at Juventus but urged his team-mates to be especially wary of Udinese on Saturday night.
The Serie A champions have seen their lead cut to just three points following the winter break, courtesy of a shock 2-1 home defeat to Sampdoria and a 1-1 draw at Parma, with title contenders Lazio and Napoli hitting form at just the right time.
Juve defender Lichtsteiner is eager to see a swift improvement but reminded fans of last January's wobble, one that preceded an unstoppable surge to a 28th official Serie A title.
He told juventus.com: "The defeat to Samp really hurt and then we gifted Parma the draw but we certainly can't talk about a crisis.
"We've let five points out of six get away from us but we lost points in this period last year too.
"In the last two games we've been hit on the counter-attack and we need to improve, but the team is strong and in good shape."
The other Bianconeri arrive in Turin on the back of four wins claimed during a six-game unbeaten run.
Lichtsteiner added: "They're a great team and we have to pay close attention to their speed. Everyone who faces us treats the occasion as a big game and we're aware of that.
"For a lot of people the title is already decided, but we know perfectly well that there are several teams that will fight us right until the end."
Vice-captain Giorgio Chiellini, midfielder Claudio Marchisio and striker Nicklas Bendtner are sidelined through injury.
Saturday night will be emotional for Udinese boss Francesco Guidolin, who celebrates 500 games on the touchline as a head coach in Serie A.
"I'm excited and proud," he said. "Although I'm only thinking about Juventus now and not the numbers.
"I am now among the names of some legendary characters in the sport, which makes me very happy as it's probably the most important moment of my career.
"To reach 500 games in Serie A is the equivalent of climbing 8,000 metres. Achieving this goal as the manager of Udinese makes me even more proud."
Guidolin turned his attention back to Juve and the prospect of a daunting trip to north Turin.
He added: "It will be fierce as it always has been over the last two years. They're top of the table and the number one favourite for the title."
Defender Mehdi Benatia and midfielder Emmanuel Badu are unavailable due to African Nations Cup duty, with Andrea Coda, Maicosuel and talismanic striker Antonio Di Natale facing late fitness checks.
Leonardo Bonucci and Alexis Sanchez were both sent off when Udinese last claimed all three points in Turin back in January 2011.