Juventus v Newcastle United
The one bright spot on the horizon for Sir Bobby Robsob’s teamm is that their domestic form has begun to pick up after a disappointing start to the new campaign. Whether that form can be transferred to the Champions League stage remains a doubt. Newcatle have yet to adapt to the different demands of Europe’s elite competition, looking vulnerable at the back while lacking penetration up front.
Their task will not be helped by the loss tonight through suspension of livewire striker Craig Bellamy. The Welshman has the pace to unsettle defences but in his absence, the Alan Shearer-led strike force has a more physical but less sprightly look to it. Robson is expected to go for Lua Lua in suppport of Shearer but there is also the possibility that Kieron Dyer might push up from his midfield role – in which case there may be a place for Hugo Viana in central midfield.
Juventus have several long-term injury casualties, namely, Zambrotta, Pessotto and Conte, missing. Otherwise, Marcelllo Lippi has a full squad to choose from including French international striker David Trezeguet has fully recovered from injury and is expected to start on the bench as Lippi opts for the same eleven that crushed Kyiv.
Newcastle desperately need something from this match but on the evidence so far, they have qualified for this competition a season or two ahead of schedule. There are plenty of talented players at the club, especially going forward but the suspicion lingers that this isa side that will reach maturity in a year or two. Realistically, another defeat beckons and with it their prospects of progressing to the next phase.
No such worries for Juventus. Another win tonight and they can look forward with optimism to playing a sigificant part in this year’s competition. There has been talk – by Juvekeeper Buffon – of this Juve side being their best ever and while it is clearly premature to speak in such terms, this looks one of the strongest teams to have emerged from Italy in recent years.
Juventus: Buffon; Thuram, Montero, Iuliano, Moretti; Camoranesi, Tacchinardi, Davids; Nedved; Di Vaio, Del Piero.
Newcastle: Given; Griffin, Dabizas, Hughes, O’Brien; Solano, Speed, Dyer, Robert, Shearer, Lua-Lua
Feyenoord v Dynamo Kyiv
the omens for Dynamo Kyiv do not look too promising.
Feyenoord have made an impressive start to the competition, riding their luck somewhat in both of their matches to date, but with four points to show from two games, they must be favoured, along with Juventus to go through to the next stage.
Oleksiy Mykhaylychenko rested Romanian international Tiberiu Ghioane and Croatian duo Goran Sablic and Jerko Leko for last weekend’s 2-0 win over FC Polihraftechnica Olexandria but the trio are expected to return tonight.
Feyenoord, who suffered an unexpected reverse at the weekend, going down 4-2 to RBC Roosendaal which left coach Bert van Marwijk, have several injury concerns. Central defender Kees van Wonderen is major doubt because of a back problem as are Chong-gug Song and Ramon van Haaren.
Given their poor away form in this competition in recent seasons, it is difficult to envisage the Ukrainian side getting anything out of this match. Feyenoord, demonstrated in their UEFA Cup triumph of last season and also in their opening match draw with Juventus that they are a difficult side to beat at home and one suspects that the task will prove beyond Dynamo tonight.
Probable teams: To be announced