Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sevilla v Juventus: Allegri aiming to build momentum and seal top spot

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 6 Dec 2015

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Ahead of their Champions League clash with Sevilla, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has urged his side to keep building momentum following a testing start to the season.

Last season’s finalists, already assured of a place in the Champions League last 16, recorded their fifth successive victory in all competitions as they beat Lazio 2-0 on Friday to move up to fifth place in Serie A.

Sevilla, meanwhile, are already out of the competition, and sit bottom of Group D having lost their last four Champions League games – the worst European sequence in their history.

However, Unai Emery’s side have started to find some form domestically, winning five of their last six home games in all competitions, including victories against Real Madrid and Barcelona.

And Allegri is under no illusions that Tuesday’s trip to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan will be an easy one – insisting that Juventus are determined to get the point needed to seal top spot in the group, with Manchester City sitting just two points behind them in second going into the final round of fixtures.

“We’re coming off a positive period of form, but we have to keep the enthusiasm and momentum going,” he said, while also commending the breadth of attacking options he currently has at his disposal.

“Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala did well [against Lazio], but Juan Cuadrado and Alvaro Morata also made an immediate impact coming off the bench.

“Dybala scored a great goal and is improving in that role, proving all his quality. Mandzukic did a lot of the dirty work and contributed to both goals.

“We’ll need everyone this season and it pains me to make certain decisions, but I am only allowed to start 11 players. Every player must stay focused on being at their best for the next game.”

Sevilla are playing for more than just their pride, though, with a place in the Europa League – which they have won in the last two seasons – still up for grabs if they can snatch a victory and Borussia Monchengladbach fail to beat City in the group’s other fixture.

One player in particular looking to make an impact will be Fernando Llorente, who moved from Juventus to Sevilla in the last transfer window.

The former Athletic Bilbao striker has netted three goals for Sevilla in La Liga, but is yet to open his Champions League account.

Another key player for the hosts could be midfielder Ever Banega, who is set to make his return to the first team following a calf injury.

Sevilla will definitely be shorn of Marco Andreolli (ankle) and Beto (knee), along with Daniel Carrico and Gael Kakuta (both hamstring).

Hernanes will miss out for the visitors as he serves the second game of a two-match suspension, with Roberto Pereyra and Sami Khedira (both thigh) also absent.

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