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By Ivan Carvalho in Turin
Juventus FC will look to continue their successful start to the season when they take on UEFA Champions League debutants Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC at the Stadio delle Alpi.
The Serie A leaders are favourites to win the Group C tie, but coach Fabio Capello said he would not underestimate any team in the competition, whatever their experience. "It would be a grave mistake to think we can score a couple of early goals and wrap up the game by half-time," he said, before his club's first meeting with Israeli opposition.
While Capello expects Maccabi to play defensively, he admitted he had been impressed by the pace of their strikers, Ishmael Addo in particular, who he believes will pose a threat on the counterattack. Maccabi matched FC Bayern München for most of their Matchday 1 fixture a fortnight ago, but the German side left Tel-Aviv with three points thanks to Roy Maakay's 64th-minute penalty.
Despite Capello's caution, Juventus have already found their groove this season, opening their Champions League campaign with a gutsy 1-0 win at AFC Ajax. The Turin team might have dropped points in Serie A for the first time on Saturday, when promoted US Città di Palermo forced a 1-1 draw, but they remain top thanks largely to a strong defence that has conceded just one goal in four games. "I think we are showing a lot of confidence right now and the draw will not affect our performance at all," Capello said.
As for his attack, Capello said he was fortunate to have Alessandro Del Piero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Trezeguet at his disposal. "
I would always like to have the option of three strikers of this quality," he said. Capello is expected to start with Ibrahimovic and Trezeguet against Maccabi. The pair have complemented each other well so far, producing five goals in 159 minutes played together.
Juventus also have an impressive overall record in the Champions League, yet Maccabi coach Nir Klinger was upbeat about his club's chances despite a youthful lineup and the fact this is their first away game in the Champions League.
There is no doubt that Juve are favourites but we believe we can play positive football at this level," he said. Klinger conceded that the group was "no honeymoon" but added that he believed his side performed well against Bayern and that "surprises can happen".
Maccabi will certainly be well rested, having not played a league match since a 1-1 draw with Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC on 18 September. They also have left-back Salem Abo Siam available again after suspension cost him a place against Bayern.
Also in the visiting team's favour is the fact Juventus could be without Czech playmaker Pavel Nedved and Italian international Fabio Cannavaro, along with the already injured Paolo Montero and Ciro Ferrara. Nedved's absence, in particular, could allow a chance for Uruguayan midfielder Ruben Olivera after his 24 minutes against Ajax while Jonathan Zebina returns from a ban.
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