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Juventus present united front

Published: Tuesday 25 February 2003, 19.03CET
After his squad overcame 'flu, coach Marcello Lippi is relishing facing Manchester United FC.

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Published: Tuesday 25 February 2003, 19.03CET

Juventus present united front

After his squad overcame 'flu, coach Marcello Lippi is relishing facing Manchester United FC.

By Marcus Christenson

After his options were severely reduced by a 'flu epidemic last week, the Juventus FC coach Marcello Lippi is hopeful that his side, virtually back to full strength, will exact revenge on Manchester United FC for last week's 2-1 UEFA Champions League defeat when they meet at the Stadio Delle Alpi.

All recovered
The Italian champions' chances of recording a Group D success at Old Trafford were hindered by an outbreak of 'flu which deprived them of seven players. More personnel subsequently fell ill, but Lilian Thuram and Edgar Davids have returned to training, meaning all affected players have shaken off the virus.

Tacchinardi suspended
Lippi said of the situation: "Psychologically, this is a completely different game to last week. We have all our players back apart from [Alessandro] Del Piero, who is injured, and Alessio Tacchinardi, who is suspended. We are looking forward to this game much more than we were able to do last week."

Lone striker
Juventus acquitted themselves superbly in Manchester, losing by the narrowest of margins after Pavel Nedved struck late on following goals by Wes Brown and Ruud van Nistelrooij. Deployed as a lone striker, David Trezeguet received excellent support from Nedved and Mauro Camoranesi and a similar system is likely to be employed tonight, with Marco Di Vaio coming in.

'Good period'
The quartet all impressed in Saturday's 3-1 victory against Como Calcio - Camoranesi and Di Vaio scoring - to further swell the air of confidence at the Delle Alpi. "We are going through a good period now and have several players in good form," Lippi said. "United are one of the strongest teams in Europe. It will be a great match and the stadium is likely to be full, which is good."

'Great players'
United failed to build on their third successive Group D triumph domestically on Saturday, Ole Gunnar Solskjær rescuing a 1-1 draw at Bolton Wanderers FC in the final minute. With Arsenal FC trouncing Manchester City FC 5-1, Sir Alex Ferguson's team are now five points adrift in the Premiership race. Lippi, though, has refused to look too deeply into that, saying: "Don't think that United aren't at their best, because they have so many great players. They are capable of being anyone - even if they're not at their best."

Record looms
Consistently winning is something United are extremely adept at in the Champions League. They need just a point from their remaining three matches to reach the quarter-finals for the seventh year in succession, a record. With United facing Liverpool FC in the English League Cup final on Sunday, the temptation is there for Sir Alex to rest key men in Turin. The Scot said today that he has to use his players "in the best possible way".

'Fantastic game'
Wes Brown and Paul Scholes are injured, meaning John O'Shea and Solskjær may start. Sir Alex is expecting another absorbing contest, saying: "Juventus are back at their strongest now and that is better for everyone. Sometimes it can be difficult to play against a team you know are under strength, like they were last week, so it should be a fantastic game."

Last updated: 25/02/03 21.02CET