Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti can push his former club Juventus and disciple Antonio Conte closer to the Champions League exit door if they win in Turin on Tuesday. The two teams,who have won the competition 11 times between them,were both expected to comfortably progress from Group B and Tuesdays match was seen initially seen as little more than some early sparring for the knockout rounds.
But,after drawing with Galatasaray and Copenhagen and then losing in 2-1 Madrid two weeks ago,Juventus suddenly find themselves fighting for survival. Ancelotti is unlikely to admit it but he may gain some grim satisfaction if he can help eliminate his former club.
He had two difficult years at Juventus early in his coaching career,where despite twice leading them to second place in Serie A he was sacked on the last day of the 2000-01 season. Conte,who has led Juventus to two successive Serie A titles,was his swashbuckling captain at the time and has since gone on to become of Europes top coaches although he has sometimes shown exasperation at his clubs lack of financial clout.
A win for Real,whose only previous away win against Juventus was 51 years ago,would send them into the last sixteen with two matches to spare and leave third-placed Juve with only two points from four games. Should Galatasaray win away to FC Copenhagen in Tuesdays other Group B game,Juventus would find themselves five points behind the Turkish champions with a trip to Istanbul still to come.
Juventus have failed to win their last five Champions League ties,a run which started when they lost both legs of their quarter-final to Bayern Munich last season. Worryingly,three of those matches have been at home at the Juventus stadium,which the club had hoped to turn into an impenetrable fortress when it was opened two years ago.
On the other hand,they have won their last three Serie A matches without conceding a goal and will be hoping that Reals defence will be caught off guard,having leaked five goals in its last two La Liga outings. Real have plenty of strong players up front who sometimes help out less in defensive areas,which puts their backline under pressure, Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio said on Sunday. We managed to defend well in Spain,enjoy possession and cause them problems.
Juventus will be without defender Giorgio Chiellini,who was sent off at the Bernabeu a fortnight ago,leaving Marchisio as the only survivor from the team which beat Real on their last visit to Turin five years ago.
Meanwhile,holders Bayern Munich will be seeking to record a fourth successive Champions League victory this week to secure a place in the last 16. Paris St Germain and Atletico Madrid have also won all three games to date while Manchester City,who have won two and lost one match,can also secure their place in the knockout round with another win over CSKA Moscow.
Manchester United will take a big step towards the last 16 if they win at Real Sociedad. Bayern visit Czech club Viktoria Plzen,who they beat 5-0 at home two weeks ago,Paris St Germain are at home to Anderlecht after winning 5-0 in Brussels. Manchester United will be looking for another win over the Spanish side after beating them 1-0 at Old Trafford,while Bayern should have no trouble in their match in Plzen following their demolition of the Czech champions at home.
Bayern were far from their dominant selves but still did enough to equal SV Hamburgs record from 1982-83. Paris St Germain also won in Ligue 1,thrashing lowly Lorient 4-0 with in-form striker Edinson Cavani scoring twice as PSG moved three points clear at the top. Brazilian Lucas and Jeremy Menez were also on target and it seems inconceivable that PSG will allow the Belgians to pick up their first points of the campaign.