By Igor Linnyk
FC Dynamo Kyiv are on a double mission on Wednesday - to exact revenge on Juventus FC for their 5-0 thrashing in October, and qualify with the Italian side from UEFA Champions League Group E.
All to play for
The section is one of the most keenly fought of the eight first-stage groups, with two points separating second-placed Dynamo, Newcastle United FC in third and Feyenoord, the bottom team in the pool. Victory against Juve would see Dynamo progress, though they could afford a defeat should Newcastle draw in Rotterdam.
'Our task is to win'
Not surprisingly, the Dynamo coach Olexiy Mykhaylichenko was taking nothing for granted. "We are not relying on the outcome in Rotterdam - that is not part of the Dynamo philosophy," he said. "It all depends on us and, with all due respect to Juventus, our task is to win."
A 1-0 weekend success against second-placed FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk restored confidence, though maximum points could not disguise the fact that Dynamo are fourth going into the winter break, a record low. Croatian Goran Sablic and Serhiy Fedorov have both been ruled out through injury, while Brazilian striker Leandro was released by mutual consent on Tuesday after falling some way short of his pre-season billing.
Goran Gavrancic, the man on target against Dnipro, feels the scoreline in Turin flattered Juventus. "We do not have any complex after the 5-0 loss - it was an accident," he said. "We had our chances but could not convert them. We will remember that lesson." Juve are also a different proposition away from the Stadio Delle Alpi, a ground where they have scored nine times without reply in winning each of their three home Group E matches.
Marcelo Lippi's side have not won any of their last 18 away Champions League matches, their last success ironically coming against Dynamo in March 1998. A repeat of that 4-1 triumph is unlikely as Gianluigi Buffon, Lilian Thuram, Alessandro Del Piero, Ciro Ferrara, Manuel Camoranesi and Pavel Nedved have been rested and Alessio Tacchinardi is suspended.
David Trezeguet (knee), Paolo Montero (knee) and Igor Tudor (thigh) all missed Sunday's 2-1 victory against AC Milan through injury and are not expected to feature at the Dynamo stadium. Salvatore Fresi, Davide Baiocco, Gianluca Zambrotta and Marcelo Salas should all start, while the sight of Gianluca Pessotto in black and white will cheer Juventus followers as he returns from a lengthy lay-off which forced him out of the FIFA World Cup in the summer.
Juve received a "great injection of self-confidence" from their victory against Milan and Lippi feels there is more to come from his side. "Great champions always give something special in these kind of matches," said the silver-haired coach. "We are trying to start a winning cycle. Last year we won the Scudetto and the Italian Super Cup. This season we want more trophies." Their fellow challengers have been warned.
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