Del Piero fears realised for Juve

Juventus FC will tackle Manchester United FC without Alessandro Del Piero.

Fine form

Inspiration in Europe
Del Piero had been similarly impressive in Europe, registering four times in seven UEFA Champions League matches, but will now miss the forthcoming games against Manchester United FC when the competition resumes in a fortnight. He is also likely to sit out the home fixture against RC Deportivo La Coruña on 12 March.

Qualifying positions
With United and Juventus occupying the qualifying positions in Group D after two matchdays, the double header, on 19 and 25 February, is likely to go a long way towards deciding eventual group supremacy. Lippi's hopes of wresting the section leadership from the English side, who have won both their games convincingly, will be hampered by the absence of a pivot about which Juventus's most fluid moves invariably turn.

International dates
In addition to missing crucial games for his club, the Italian international will be unavailable when the Azzurri tackle Portugal in a friendly in Genoa on 12 February in preparation for their UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying tie against Finland on 28 March - a game he will hope to be fit for.