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High stakes in Turin

Published: Tuesday 11 March 2003, 20.24CET
Marcello Lippi considers Juventus FC's showdown with RC Deportivo La Coruña a "true cup tie".
Published: Tuesday 11 March 2003, 20.24CET

High stakes in Turin

Marcello Lippi considers Juventus FC's showdown with RC Deportivo La Coruña a "true cup tie".

By Marcus Christenson

Juventus FC coach Marcello Lippi says he is "excited" at the prospect of taking on RC Deportivo La Coruña in what he sees as a "true cup tie".

All or nothing
The two sides are tied in second place in UEFA Champions League Group D on four points, eight behind leaders Manchester United FC. The losers of Wednesday's game will certainly be out while the winners will have to wait on the result from the other group game, between United and FC Basel, to see whether a win is enough to see them through with one game to spare.

'I like this scenario'
Lippi told Tuesday's press conference that these games are what cup competitions are all about. "I like this scenario," he said. "This is a true cup game - if you lose you are out and if you win, in this case, you have taken a big, big step towards qualification. In a game like this you can judge which is the stronger team and I like that."

Del Piero missing
The Juventus coach is full of confidence ahead of the crucial encounter after his team secured a vital Serie A win against Udinese Calcio at the weekend, despite being without Alessandro Del Piero and Pavel Nedved, and with David Trezeguet on the bench. Del Piero is still sidelined with 'flu but both Nedved and Trezeguet are likely to start against the Spanish side.

'Not a bogey team'
The two teams are far from strangers, this being the third successive season they have met in the Champions League. The Italian giants have yet to beat Depor at home - both matches ended goalless - but this does not seem to worry Lippi, who said: "It is true that they have managed to get away from here [in Turin] with two draws but I don't see them as a bogey team. A lot of things happened in those games with posts being hit and penalties being missed. The game on Wednesday will be a new and completely different matter."

Molina returns
Deportivo arrived in Turin in high spirits after a 2-1 Primera División victory over Villarreal CF on Saturday that lifted them to third in the standings. However, the biggest boost is the news that goalkeeper José Molina has won his battle against testicular cancer and is in the squad again for the first time since October, although he is unlikely to figure.

In-form Makaay
Coach Javier Irureta is without Brazilian midfield player Donato Gama and defender Pablo Amo due to injuries but will be able to field a strong team with Diego Tristán likely to support the in-form Roy Makaay in attack. Wingers Fran González and Sergio González will offer service to Makaay, the Spanish league's top scorer, in what looks likely to be an attacking lineup.

'We are here to win'
Irureta said his team would approach the match in a positive fashion. "There is no doubt that this will be a difficult game but we are here to win," he said. "Manchester United showed that it is possible to win at the Delle Alpi and we will have to try and do the same thing. We need everyone to be on top of their game and everyone to give 100 per cent. Only then will we have a chance of winning this game."

Last updated: 12/03/03 21.45CET

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