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Juve aim to finish with a flourish

Published: Wednesday 7 December 2005, 19.01CET
Already guaranteed a place in the last 16, Juventus will be seeking a handsome victory against point-less SK Rapid Wien as they look to finish top of Group A.
by Matthew Watson-Broughton
from Turin

Tournament statistics

Rapid WienJuventus

Goals scored3
Attempts on target25
Attempts off target33
Fouls committed81
Yellow cards9
Red cards0

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Published: Wednesday 7 December 2005, 19.01CET

Juve aim to finish with a flourish

Already guaranteed a place in the last 16, Juventus will be seeking a handsome victory against point-less SK Rapid Wien as they look to finish top of Group A.

Already qualified for the knockout rounds, Juventus will be seeking a handsome win against point-less SK Rapid Wien in Austria as they aim to leapfrog FC Bayern München at the Group A summit and secure a kinder Round of 16 draw.

Fringe players
Fabio Capello's team lie level with Bayern on 12 points, but behind by virtue of an extra goal conceded, and should Juventus better by two goals the German side's result at Club Brugge KV, they will qualify first. However, the Bianconeri must do without several regulars at the Ernst Happel stadium as Capello provides his fringe players with a run-out. "The team will be switched to make sure all our players get an opportunity to impress, but I'm not sure exactly who this will involve," he said.

Group ambitions
It is unlikely to involve Gianluigi Buffon, who is doubtful with a slight knock, while Emerson is definitely out after sustaining a thigh strain in Sunday's 2-1 win at high-flying ACF Fiorentina. That result extended Juventus's Serie A lead to eight points, and Capello believes it is important to maintain that form against Rapid. "Every game we play is equally important and we want to win the group," he said. "We'll think about Serie A only after this match."

Del Piero warning
Juventus eased to a 3-0 success in the reverse fixture at the end of September, but Alessandro Del Piero insists the encounter in Austria could prove much tougher. "It is their last home game and that will make them determined," said the forward, who scored the only goal of the Matchday 5 tie against Club Brugge KV. "They will also be motivated by a feeling of being hard done by after some bad luck. They could have achieved more and that makes them dangerous."

Hickersberger hurrah
For Rapid, only pride is at stake after they failed to collect a point from their first five outings. The Austrians will be keen to avoid becoming the fifth team in UEFA Champions League history to be eliminated with an empty account, while providing outgoing coach Josef Hickersberger with a rousing send-off. This will be the 57-year-old's penultimate game before taking charge of Austria's national squad, and he wants to go out in style.

Domestic hopes
"We are fully focused on the Juventus match because we want to bounce back from the 4-0 defeat in Munich [on Matchday 5]," he said. "Our fans deserve maximum effort before we travel to second-placed [SV Austria] Salzburg next Saturday for our final fixture before the winter break." Rapid are third in their Bundesliga after a 3-1 victory over SV Pasching, and Hickersberger, without Marcin Adamski due to a thigh problem, is hoping some level of success against Juventus will boost his team's domestic ambitions.

'Bright note'
"Of course I can imagine an easier side to play than Juventus because they are world class, even on the substitutes' bench, so it makes little difference if they rest their stars," he continued. "However, if we win our battles we will have a chance to end the group on a bright note. One point would be a dream come true because there is a big difference between the teams." The visitors, however, will hope the gulf in class remains unbridgeable.

Last updated: 07/12/05 22.25CET