Juventus hope to build on their last impressive Champions League performance and keep the lead of the qualifying group E when they host Newcastle on Tuesday evening at the Delle Alpi stadium.
The Bianconeri were simply irresistible last week against Dinamo Kiev. The Ukrainian side came from an impressive home win precisely against the Magpies, but Juve overwhelmed them right after the starting whistle for a 5-0 rout which admitted no reply.
However, Lippi's men were way less effective three days ago in their home outing against Parma. The Bianconeri were dominated for most of the match, and only an incredible recovery in the last minutes, favored by the "benevolent" behaviour of young referee Cassarà, allowed them to grab a 2-2 draw.
It's a harsh but true fact that Newcastle are in a position where they need something from Tuesday nights game in Turin. Whilst their domestic form is beginning to pick up after a sluggish start, they are still struggling to find their feet – and the net – in Europe, having lost away in Kiev and, last week, somewhat unluckily at home to Feyenoord.
However, bad luck counts for nothing in the Champions League and boss Sir Bobby Robson is too experienced not to realise the full importance of this game to his side, even perhaps to the point to salvaging a UEFA Cup spot out of it, thanks to the ruling body's ridiculous `third place ruling`.
If anything, Newcastle can take heart from recent Premiership matches, indeed they've won their last two by the same 2-0 scoreline, albeit against clubs that they would be expected to beat. Juve however are a totally different proposition, and it's going to take something very special to take anything home to Tyneside, although as they say, football is a funny old game.
Juventus (all comps – oldest results first): WWDWWD. With the lone exception of last Saturday's Serie A match against Parma, the Bianconeri have been looking really great in their first outings of the season. Lippi's men are still undefeated, and their positive streak (4 wins and 2 draws, with 15 goals scored and only 4 conceded) includes the triumph in the Italian Supercup on August 25, precisely at Parma's expense.
Newcastle (all comps – oldest results first): LLLWLW. Saturday's win at Birmingham has lifted Newcastle into tenth place, although they will drop a position if there is a winner in the Monday night Prem game between West Brom & Blackburn. The previous victory over local rivals Sunderland would have given the fans more satisfaction, however it's in Europe where you have to look for a better idea of form, and successive defeats against Kiev and Feyenoord makes for depressing reading.
Only the long-term sidelined players, namely Zambrotta, Pessotto and Conte, will be unavailable for the Bianconeri. David Trezeguet has fully recovered from his injury and will likely sit on the bench. Most likely, Marcello Lippi will field the same starting eleven who hammered Dinamo Kiev one week ago, with young defender Moretti on the left and Pavel Nedved free to move behind the offensive duo, formed by Di Vaio and Del Piero.
Newcastle will miss the pace and finishing skill of Craig Bellamy, who begins his three match European ban following his head-butting incident against Dynamo Kiev. His place up front is likely to go to Lomana Lua-Lua, however Shola Ameobi came off the bench to score late on at Birmingham and could stake a claim as a partner for Alan Shearer. That aside, Sir Bobby Robson has no new concerns and is likely to start with the same eleven as began at St Andrews on Saturday.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Juventus : Alessandro Del Piero. We guess you won't be surprised. Nine goals in eight official matches: Alex is as healthy as he's never been after the terrible injury he suffered a few years ago, and this gives him a huge confidence. It will be very difficult for a troubled defence like Newcastle's to stop the red hot Juve super-star.
Newcastle : Alan Shearer. The former England captain has done most things in his career, however on the European club scene, he remains relatively inexperienced, despite previous unsuccessful campaigns with Newcastle and Blackburn. His power and leadership will be absolutely vital if Newcastle are to get anything from this game.
Equally important will be goalkeeper Shay Given. Not the tallest in the world by any means, the Irishman has excellent shot stopping ability and commands his area well. He was one of the most impressive keepers in the Premiership last season, and was one of the reasons that his side are in the Champions League this season.
POSSIBLE STARTING XI's
JUVENTUS (4-3-1-2): Buffon; Thuram, Montero, Iuliano, Moretti; Camoranesi, Tacchinardi, Davids; Nedved; Di Vaio, Del Piero.
Juve must be considered as the clear favorites here, no doubt about it. Differently from the Magpies, Lippi's men have been looking healthy and confident in all of their outings so far, excepting last week's match against Parma. I'm pretty sure that Newcastle will have their chances, like Dinamo Kiev did last week, but Juve are red-hot on the offensive side and I just can't see the guests' troubled defence resisting for a long time.
The Champions League is back !! At the Delle Alpi it will be against Newcastle. Seven days after the great vicoty over Dynamo Kiev, Marcello Lippi waits for another big performance from his team.
The coach from Viareggio knows the importance of the match against the English team and, above all, the desire of starting again the series of victories after the draw against Parma.“Psychologically we’re all right. We know that we have the chance of remaining on the top of the Group and making an important step towards the next round”.
Juventus will face Newcastle, still without points in the Group but in an improving condition, especially in the Premiership, where they won the last two matches.
An opponent taken seriously, especialy because it’s a member of an important world, the one of English football: “At the moment they’re living a different situation in comparison with last year's, when they finished fourth in the Premiership. They’ll come to Turin trying to do everything to keep their chances for qualification alive. They’ll be without Bellamy, disqualified, but there’s always Shearer, a world class striker. If the English teams are traditionally less aggressive abroad than at home? The last seasons said the opposite, expecially with Manchester and Arsenal. To be true, I don’t trust very much that tradition”
Marcello Lippi will put his trust, instead, on Del Piero. The blackandwhite captain is playing better and better, and someone is nominating him for the Best European Player award. Alex’s desire to demostrate his skill could be another weapon for Juventus in the hunt for the Champions League. “I think Del Piero is still a candidate for that award. He’ll have to go on doing great things, expecially in the European Competitions, with Juventus and with the National team”.