Juventus - Manchester City Preview

Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The Old Lady had been sweating over the long-term fitness of midfielder Claudio Marchisio, who sustained a calf injury in Sunday’s game against Lazio, although he is out for the City game, it is not as serious as first thought.

Veteran Italy keeper Gianlugi Buffon is still injured having not played a game for Juve all season. Although Marco Storari played against Lazio, Alex Manninger is the likelier starter.

Right-back Zdenek Grygera may return after five weeks out in this dead rubber.

Possible starting XI: Manninger; Grygera, Chiellini, Bonucci, Grosso; Krasic, Melo, Sissoko, Martinez; Del Piero, Iaquinta.

Manchester City
City's progression was assured in their match against Salzburg, although they could go through as top of group with a win against Juventus. With current in-club difficulties, however, their minds may be elsewhere.

After suspension against West Ham, captain Carlos Tevez trained with the side before their trip to Italy, whether he plays is another matter.

Mario Balotelli has been left behind to remove chance of racist abuse. Aleksandar Kolarov may return after missing the West Ham match through suspension.

Possible starting XI: Given; Boateng, Richards, K Toure, Kolarov; A Johnson, Kompany, De Jong, Silva; Y Toure; Jo.This match will not affect either side's fate as Juventus are out and City are through. The Italians will not want to end their Europa campaign, however, with a home defeat. They are unbeaten in the group, but have suffered from too many draws. Now they have a chance to salvage some pride against super-rich City and Roberto Mancini, who through his associations with Inter will not be too popular with Juve fans.

In Serie A they are second, only six points off AC Milan, after a gritty 2-1 victory over title rivals Lazio at the weekend, so Luigi Del Neri’s men have a spring their step. With the buoyancy of results, first team players are bullish about their chances against Mancini's men.

"The Europa League game against Manchester City doesn't mean anything for the standings, but it does mean alot for our pride," Leonard Bonucci said recently. "We want to do well and honour this competition until the end because we are Juventus, and we always go on the pitch to win."

Juventus veteran Alessandro Del Piero added: "Although our thoughts are on the game against Chievo on Sunday, one game we are preparing to honour the Europa League is the one against Manchester City."

Most clubs go through a player catastrophe at some point in their existence, and for Manchester City, this was their week. Their talismanic captain Carlos Tevez revealed his desire to leave on Sunday and reiterated it on Monday. With City rejecting his request, fans will not know whether their hero will play or quit. The Europa League, where City have shown decent form, will therefore be see as light relief for City after the travails of the Premier League.

Vincent Kompany has emphasised the squad unity, insisting the team has the fortitude to not let off-pitch problems affect their play.

He said: "It's a really, really good squad, a great group of guys and we're very, very close to each other.

"It's a group of guys who want to achieve together. We're all in the same squad but, in training, if you divide us into two teams, ultimately you want to win the game."

Kompany might not want to look to history for inspiration against Juventus, because the last time they played in Turin, in the first round of the 1976-77 Uefa Cup – the Europa League's predecessor - they lost 2-0.


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