Juve depleted but looking for second City scalp

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MILAN: Depleted Juventus host Manchester City on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) looking for the win that would secure their passage to the last 16 of the Champions League.

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City’s 3-1 win away to Sevilla last time out left Manuel Pellegrini’s men top of Group D on nine points and, with Juventus one point behind in second, they will clinch top spot with a win in Turin.

But looking at City’s recent form, Juventus have reason to believe they can claim their second successive win over the Citizens, having stunned Pellegrini’s men 2-1 in September when Alvaro Morata hit an 81st minute winner at the Etihad, and claim top spot ahead of their final game away to Sevilla.

City are already qualified but travel to Italy reeling from a humiliating 4-1 home defeat to Liverpool at the weekend that left them two points behind surprise Premier League leaders Leicester City.

The reverse came in the absence of City centre-back and captain Vincent Kompany, as well as forwards Wilfried Bony, David Silva and Samir Nasri—all of whom are still sidelined through injury.

Pellegrini said his side’s performance was “not normal”, adding: “It’s very important to turn the page as soon as we can. We have an important game on Wednesday.”

With Paulo Dybala hitting a second-half winner to clinch a 1-0 home win over AC Milan on Saturday, Juventus claimed a third consecutive win in Serie A for the first time this season.

But coach Massimiliano Allegri’s tactical options are limited, with Sami Khedira joining several other midfielders on the treatment table while France left-back Patrice Evra is set for a fitness test on Tuesday after suffering a left ankle problem.

Center-back Giorgio Chiellini believes Juve’s task won’t be made any easier by the fact City will be looking for revenge.

“I would have preferred to come up against a more relaxed and secure Manchester,” Chiellini told Sky Sport Italia on Monday.

“Against teams with top players it’s sometimes easier to make the most of your chances if their players are a little more relaxed.

“But I expect them to be cautious, and super-motivated for revenge. We need to go out and produce a great performance if we are to stamp our ticket for the last 16.”

Sagna deflated
An inquest by City’s players in the wake of their defeat to Liverpool left City’s French right-back Bacary Sagna admitting the events of last week’s terror attacks in Paris had physically drained him.

“It was not easy to be part of that event [in Paris]. Mentally I was ready to play. Physically I believed I was. But I wasn’t. I tired quite quickly,” said Sagna.

Evra, who alongside Juve team¬mate Paul Pogba was playing for France against Germany when three explosions were heard outside the Stade de France 10 days ago, lasted less than half an hour at the weekend before hobbling off.

Yet arguably Juve’s biggest loss among a depleted midfield is Khedira, who has been sidelined after a scar from a recent thigh injury flared up while he was on international duty with Germany.

Brazilian playmaker Hernanes was suspended for the game before suffering a thigh injury on Saturday that has sidelined him for three weeks.

Also missing through injury is Roberto Pereyra, Kwadwo Asa¬moah and Simone Padoin, while Uruguayan midfielder Martin Caceres will have a late fitness test on a right thigh problem.

On-loan Chelsea forward Juan Cuadrado is expected to start for the Bianconeri, while Allegri has yet to decide whether Dybala—one of Juve’s few bright lights in an otherwise muted performance at the weekend—or Mario Mandzukic will partner Morata up front.

AFP

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