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Lippi hopeful of Nedved boost

Published: Tuesday 8 April 2003, 21.02CET
Juventus FC coach Marcello Lippi is "confident" Pavel Nedved will be fit to face FC Barcelona.

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Published: Tuesday 8 April 2003, 21.02CET

Lippi hopeful of Nedved boost

Juventus FC coach Marcello Lippi is "confident" Pavel Nedved will be fit to face FC Barcelona.

By Marcus Christenson

Juventus FC coach Marcello Lippi is "confident" influential midfield player Pavel Nedved will be fit to face FC Barcelona in Wednesday's UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Stadio Delle Alpi.

Knee injury
Nedved, who suffered a knee injury in Saturday's 2-0 derby victory over Torino Calcio, is facing a race against time to take his place in Juve's starting lineup. The Czech international trained on Monday and Tuesday but remains a doubt for the mouth-watering encounter. Nedved has been the catalyst for much of his side's success this season, scoring three goals in eleven appearances en route to the competition's last eight.

'No point taking a risk'
Lippi, who has given Juventus a timely boost by signing a two-year contract extension, said: "Nedved trained today but took it easy. There is no point taking a risk and going for it fully if you can aggravate an injury one day ahead of such an important game. We will wait until tomorrow [Wednesday] to make a decision but I am feeling quite confident because Pavel is a strong player who normally recovers quickly. And I know that he is desperate to play this game at all costs".

Trezeguet missing
Nedved's presence against Barcelona has taken on an even greater significance with the news that striker David Trezeguet is likely to be out for a month with a shoulder injury, also suffered at the weekend. Uruguayan international Marcelo Zalayeta is likely to deputise, with Alessandro Del Piero playing just behind. If Nedved fails to recover, Lippi could move Gianluca Zambrotta into the left-midfield berth with Gianluca Pessotto taking his place at full-back.

'Beautiful run'
Despite the worries over Nedved, Lippi has faith in his squad's strength and depth and is relishing the prospect of facing the Spanish side. "We have a strong squad with players ready to step in if there are injuries," he said. "I have never played against Barcelona and I am looking forward to doing so. They are on a great run in the Champions League at the moment and have a strong team."

Impressive record
Barcelona arrived in Turin following their first defeat since coach Radomir Antic took over from Louis van Gaal at the beginning of February. Barça, currently ninth in the Primera División, lost 2-0 at Villarreal CF at the weekend but have won 13 of their 14 Champions League games so far this season. Only Internazionale FC, who take on Valencia CF in the night's other quarter-final first leg, have stopped Barça taking maximum points after a goalless draw at the San Siro.

Thinking positive
Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert, scorer of four of his side's 25 goals in the Champions League this term, said it was "important that we score a goal" in Turin and preached a positive approach. "We must take on Juve believing that we can win. Our attitude will be a key factor in deciding the outcome and we have to be extremely focused from the start." His coach, Antic, echoed that view, saying: "[Juventus] obviously have a very good team but we will be going forward. We will play the game we know and it might even be easier for us to score against Juventus at the Delle Alpi than it will be at home because Italian teams know how to defend away from home."

Defence boosted
Frank de Boer should shake off a knock to start for Barça and defensive colleague Carlos Puyol will play wearing a protective face mask having just recovered from a fractured cheekbone. Club captain Luis Enrique is likely to be on the bench after returning to the squad following injury.

Last updated: 09/04/03 20.47CET