Juventus are aiming for a home-town UEFA Europa League final as they meet Trabzonspor AŞ, with the presence of AFC Ajax, FC Porto and FC Shakhtar Donetsk further upping the ante in the round of 32.
Antonio Conte's side missed out on a UEFA Champions League round of 16 place with a 1-0 loss to Galatasaray AŞ in wintry Istanbul on matchday six, but can make amends as they face another Turkish team in Turin – with Juventus Stadium to stage the final on Wednesday 14 May. The Bianconeri could ultimately become the third club since the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League was first decided by a one-off match in 1997/98 to compete in the showpiece at their home ground: Feyenoord won the 2002/03 edition in Rotterdam, Sporting Clube de Portugal lost the 2004/05 decider in Lisbon.
However, there is no shortage of big names who have their hearts set on a triumph in Turin: three-time winners Juve are one of nine former UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League holders in the round of 32, along with Sevilla FC (2006, 2007), Eintracht Frankfurt (1980), Valencia CF (2004), SSC Napoli (1989), Shakhtar (2009), Ajax (1992), Porto (2003, 2011) and Tottenham Hotspur FC (1972, 1984). Tottenham have an emotional reunion with a former manager in store, as Juande Ramos – twice a UEFA Cup champion with Sevilla – plays host to his old club with FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, one of four Ukrainian sides in the last 32.
Emotions could run high in Israel too where Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC entertain FC Basel 1893 – the team that eliminated them from this season's UEFA Champions League in the third qualifying round. FC Salzburg fans with long memories may also hold a grudge against their opponents Ajax, who have yet to lose in four encounters with the Austrian outfit – with current Ajax boss Frank de Boer having figured in all of those fixtures as a player.
Moreover, this round represents a new start for FC Viktoria Plzeň and FC Rubin Kazan, who each parted company with long-serving coaches over the winter break. Rinat Bilyaletidnov – father of Russian international Diniyar – has replaced Kurban Berdyev at Rubin, who visit a Betis side that have changed coach twice since the beginning of December. Dušan Uhrin Jr, meanwhile, has taken over at Plzeň following Pavel Vrba's appointment as Czech Republic trainer, and their diamond-hard opening tie at home to Shakhtar will be his first competitive game.
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