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By Svend Frandsen
UEFA Cup holders Feyenoord will be thirsting for revenge when they do battle with Italian champions Juventus FC in Rotterdam in the opening encounter of their 2002/2003 UEFA Champions League campaign.
Five years ago the two sides met in Turin on the equivalent matchday and Leo Beenhakker's men received a 5-1 hammering, thanks mainly to a superb performance by Alessandro Del Piero. Feyenoord did manage to restore a bit of pride when they recorded a 2-0 win in the return match but it was not enough to rescue their hopes of progress in the competition.
Feyenoord 'more experienced'
This is the fourth Champions League season for Feyenoord, European champions in 1970, and they have yet to win an opening match. However, the present coach, Bert van Marwijk, is confident his side can make a winning start this time. "Juventus are the favourites in this group," said Van Marwijk. "All the other teams have possibilities to get to the second group stage - my team are certainly more experienced than last season."
Feyenoord looked sharp at the weekend when they handed a 5-1 humiliation to FC Twente in their own stadium, Shinji Ono and Thomas Buffell proving the men to watch with two goals each. For their part the Italian visitors arrive in Rotterdam having played very little competitive football after the delayed start to the Serie A season. However, Marcello Lippi's side are determined to improve on last season's showing, when they were eliminated in the second group stage.
Del Piero on form
Juventus began their Serie A campaign on Sunday with a 3-0 win against Atalanta BC. Del Piero struck twice to take his tally to four this season following his two goals in the Italian Super Cup final defeat of Parma AC. Del Piero is expected to link up in attack with new signing Marco Di Vaio.
Di Vaio 'confident'
Di Vaio, who joined in a €26m deal from Parma last month, said: "The Champions League is the best competition in Europe, which involves the best teams in the continent. Regarding our first match, it's always tough to win away from home but I'm confident that Italian clubs will do really well in the competition this year."
Injury will prevent David Trezeguet from returning to De Kuip, the stadium where he netted the 'golden goal' that won EURO 2000™ for France, while Gianluca Zambrotta and Gianluca Pessotto are also sidelined. The Argentinian Mauro Camoranesi and Italian Under-21 international Emiliano Moretti will replace that pair with Czech international Pavel Nedved acting in a free role behind the two forwards. Dutch international Edgar Davids will be back on home soil in his customary midfield role.
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