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Juventus aiming for football encore at Artmedia

SoccerNews in Serie A, UEFA Champions League 25 Aug 2008

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Juventus are aiming for a repeat performance in the return leg of their Champions League final qualifying round tie against Artmedia Bratislava here on Tuesday after thrashing the Slovak title-holders 4-0 at home two weeks ago.

That result leaves the 1985 and 1996 European champions on the verge of ending a two-year absence from the group stage of the competition following their relegation to the Italian second division in 2006 for match fixing and they will want to complete the job in style.

The Turin side, who finished third in Serie A last season after winning promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt, will also be slightly wary against a team who beat Glasgow Celtic 5-0 at home in 2005 on the way to knocking the Scots out in the preliminaries.

“We'll go there to wrap up qualification (to the group stage), aware that we'll have to put in the same determination we put in during the first leg in Turin,” Juve coach Claudio Ranieri told the club website.

“We'll be faced with opposition who dearly want to put on a good show in front of their fans.”

Ranieri has lost Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, who was among the scorers in the first leg, to a knee problem that will sideline him until October, while fellow defender Jonathan Zebina and midfielders Marco Marchionni and Cristiano Zanetti are also injured.

But Croatia defender Dario Knezevic is fit again after a knee problem, winger Mauro Camoranesi is over the leg muscle strain that stopped him playing in Italy's friendly against Austria last week and Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved should be available after serving a suspension during the first leg and shaking off a knock to his calf.

French striker David Trezeguet is in the squad for Tuesday's game too following a scare over pains he felt in his knee last week.

Juventus have also been reinforced by the return of forward Sebastian Giovinco and midfielders Paolo De Ceglie and Claudio Marchisio from the Italian Olympic squad's unsuccessful expedition to Beijing.

So, given the advantage the Italian side take to Bratislava and the options available, Ranieri may be tempted to save some of his first-choice players for next Sunday's Serie A opener at Fiorentina.

Artmedia, who knocked out Malta's Valletta and Finland's Tampere United in the first two preliminary rounds, go into the game on a run of bad form after losing 3-2 at home to leaders Kosice on Friday, their third defeat in five domestic league games this term.

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