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Juve out to finish the job

Published: Tuesday 22 October 2002, 21.00CET
Juventus FC visit Newcastle United FC knowing that a win will all but seal their progress.

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Published: Tuesday 22 October 2002, 21.00CET

Juve out to finish the job

Juventus FC visit Newcastle United FC knowing that a win will all but seal their progress.

By Luke Williams

Two-times European champions Juventus FC visit Newcastle United FC on Wednesday night knowing that a win will almost guarantee their place in the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League, and move them a step closer to regaining the crown they last won in 1996.

Juventus in form
The Turin side, currently fifth in Serie A, have not tasted defeat at home or abroad so far this season and currently top Group E with seven points, two clear of second-placed Feyenoord. "It's been a great start to the season," admitted coach Marcello Lippi, whose side beat Newcastle 2-0 on Matchday Three courtesy of an Alessandro Del Piero double which took him to second place in the all-time Champions League goalscoring charts.

Di Vaio set for return
Del Piero could be reunited up front with Marco Di Vaio, who was carried off on a stretcher when the sides last met. A non-playing substitute for Juventus's game against Internazionale FC at the weekend, Lippi admitted that Di Vaio "has a good chance of playing, maybe from the start". Nevertheless, injury means David Trezeguet, Igor Tudor, Marcelo Salas, Gianluca Pessotto and Paolo Montero will all be missing.

'All or nothing'
This provides a boost for Newcastle who, with three straight Champions League defeats behind them and no goals scored, desperately need a win to reignite their hopes of progress. "It's all or nothing," manager Sir Bobby Robson said. "If we don't win the game then we're out. It's as simple as that, so it's crucial for us. The players realise that and so do I."

Solace for Newcastle
The history books provide some solace for Newcastle, who have not lost at home to Italian opposition in their two previous encounters, while Juventus have won only twice in 13 visits to England and once in their last 13 away games in the Champions League. However the Tynesiders are weakened by the absence of suspended duo Craig Bellamy and Nikos Dabizas, with Lomana LuaLua and Titus Bramble expected to deputise. There are also doubts surrounding the fitness of Kieron Dyer, who returned from England duty with a back problem.

'Flat back four'
In the event that Dyer is not passed fit, Jermaine Jenas and Hugo Viana are standing by. However, whatever the personnel at his disposal, Robson - who may well drop goalkeeper Shay Given for Steve Harper - has made no secret of the approach his side will take. "You have to have an emphasis on attack to win any game," he said. "So we've got to get down the flanks, we've got to get through the middle. We've got to be intelligent on the counter. We're going to play a flat back four, no sweeper, and press on. We can't afford an extra player at the back."

No complacency
Despite a healthy lead at the top of the group, Juventus are certainly avoiding any complacency. "Even if we win, we are not mathematically through," Lippi said. "So we will not change our approach. We always try to win games."

Last updated: 24/10/02 9.38CET