Monday, March 27, 2017

Juventus v Real Madrid: Serie A kings set for Real test

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 3 May 2015

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Juventus have no time to celebrate their fourth consecutive Serie A title as they host Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League semi-final.

Massimiliano Allegri’s men sealed the Scudetto on Saturday with a 1-0 win at Sampdoria, Arturo Vidal’s goal enough to claim all three points.

But the Turin club will have to quickly refocus on Tuesday’s visit of the defending European champions, who scraped into the last four courtesy of a 1-0 aggregate win over rivals Atletico Madrid.

And Allegri is under no illusions as to who the favourites are heading into the encounter.

He said: “It’s not every day you get to play Real Madrid, so we have to keep our heads to reach the final. If we don’t get there, it’ll be expected.”

The hosts are still without midfielder Paul Pogba for the clash due to a hamstring injury that has kept him on the sidelines since March.

Kwadwo Asamoah, Martin Caceres and Luca Marrone are also unavailable for Juventus as the club bids to reach the final for the first time since 2003, when they came from behind to beat Real 4-3 on aggregate in the semi-finals.

Real, meanwhile, head into the game with the fitness of France international striker Karim Benzema still in doubt.

Benzema has missed the last five games because of a knee injury, but may be able to return to training, potentially handing a further boost to a Real team who saw Gareth Bale make his comeback at Sevilla following a calf complaint.

“Benzema we will see in the next two days,” coach Carlo Ancelotti said after Saturday’s 3-2 La Liga win over the Andalusians.

“Tomorrow [Sunday] we will see if he can train with the team. The good thing is that Bale played 30 minutes without any problems. We have recovered a very important player [in Bale] and it would be even better if we could get Karim back too.”

Real and Juve have appeared in the final of Europe’s premier club competition 20 times between them and have recent history in the Champions League, having met in the group stages last term.

The Spanish side won 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu before claiming a 2-2 draw in Turin, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring three goals over the two games.

And, with Ronaldo heading into a repeat of the 1998 final won by Real on the back of hat-trick versus Sevilla, a typically solid Italian defensive display will be required if Juve are to overcome the odds.

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