After a two year absence from the competition, Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri said he was “curious” to see how far his side had come in the last 12 months.
“In our first season back in Serie A, I was curious to see how we would fare,” said Ranieri. “Now I am just as interested to see how we cope in the Champions League. It’s been a long wait for some of these players but our determination and motivation are right.
“We have plenty of new players but we also have players with a wealth of experience at this level, players who have been an important part of the history of this club. They are more than ready.”
Two of those experienced performers, Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet, missed Sunday’s 1-0 win against Udinese as Ranieri partnered Amauri and Vincenzo Iaquinta in attack. Ranieri revealed he would recall the duo who have scored 65 Champions League goals in 130 games.
“The fact they are vastly experienced came into it but the main reason I have selected Del Piero and Trezeguet is what they sacrificed for the club,” added Ranieri. “They had Serie A and European football snatched away from them but decided to stay here and work for two hard years to get their side back where it belongs. I have so much respect for them. This is the main reason I decided to give them the chance to play.”
Juve, who welcome back Giorgio Chiellini and Nicola Legrottaglie from injury, are unbeaten at home in the initial group stage in eight years, but acknowledge the threat posed by Zenit.
Dick Advocaat’s men won the Russian title and the UEFA Cup last season and last month lifted the UEFA Super Cup.
“We respect Juventus,” said Zenit coach Dick Advocaat. “But it’s never good to fear anyone. We know their danger men but, hopefully for them, they know ours too.”
After spending €30m on Danny and going to great lengths to keep Arshavin, money is no object to the Russian side.
“I could have bought four players for €10m each, but I chose to buy Danny for €30 and you’ll see why,” added Advocaat.