Juventus coach Marcello Lippi is sweating on the fitness of influential midfield player Pavel Nedved ahead of tonight;; Champions League showdown with Barcelona at the Stadio Delle Alpi.
Nedved suffered a knee injury in Saturday’s 2-0 derby victory over Torino, and although the Czech international trained on Monday and Tuesday he remains a doubt for the mouth-watering encounter.
Nedved has been the catalyst for much of his side’s success this season, scoring three goals in eleven appearances en route to the competition’s last eight. I am feeling quite confident because
Lippi, who has given Juventus a timely boost by signing a two-year contract extension, said:
“Nedved trained today but took it easy,’ said Lippi.
‘There is no point taking a risk and going for it fully if you can aggravate an injury one day ahead of such an important game. We will wait until tomorrow (Wednesday) to make a decision but I am feeling quite confident because Pavel is a strong player who normally recovers quickly. And I know that he is desperate to play this game at all costs”.
Lippi already has to conten with the absence of striker David Trezeguet, who is expected to be out of action for a month with a shoulder injury. Uruguayan international Marcelo Zalayeta is likely to deputise, with Alessandro Del Piero playing just behind.
If Nedved does not recover in time, Lippi could move Gianluca Zambrotta into the left-midfield berth with Gianluca Pessotto taking his place at full-back.
“We have a strong squad with players ready to step in if there are injuries,” Lippi added.
“I have never played against Barcelona and I am looking forward to doing so. They are on a great run in the ChampionsLeague at the moment and have a strong team.”
Barcelona arrived in Turin following their first defeat since coach Radomir Antic took over from Louis van Gaal at the beginning of February.
Barcelona, whose Champions League record of 13 wins from 14 matches, is in start contrast with their dismal domestic form, travel to Italy in a positive frame of mind.
“We must take on Juve believing that we can win,’ said Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert.
‘Our attitude will be a key factor in deciding the outcome and we have to be extremely focused from the start.”
Kluivert”s words were echoed by coach Radomir Antic, who has steadied the Barca ship since replacing Luois Van Gaal midway through the campaign.
: “Juventus obviously have a very good team but we will be going forward,’ said Antic.
‘We will play the game we know and it might even be easier for us to score against Juventus at the Delle Alpi than it will be at home because Italian teams know how to defend away from home.”
Frank De Boer will play, despite picking up an ankle injury during the defeat against Villarreal last weekend. Gabri will move to the right-back role with Michael Reiziger operating on the left.
Juventus: Buffon; Thuram, Montero, Ferrara, Zambrotta; Tacchinardi, Davids; Camoranesi, Del Piero, Nedved; Zalayeta
Barcelona: Bonano,Gabri, Puyol, Frank de Boer, Reiziger, Mendieta, Xavi, Riquelme, Overmars, Saviola, Kluivert