Vanderlei Luxemburgo has been studying Juventus FC in detail ahead of their visit to Real Madrid CF.
By Andy Hall in Madrid
The mouthwatering meeting of Real Madrid CF and Juventus FC not only promises a new instalment in the story of two of the aristocrats of European football but will also be a tactical confrontation between the two coaches: Vanderlei Luxemburgo and Fabio Capello.
This first knockout round encounter is Luxemburgo's first UEFA Champions League game, the Brazilian having replaced Mariano García Remón as coach during the winter break. He was reluctant to give too much away about his plans on the eve of the match, but did reveal that he has been watching Juve for some time.
"I have lots of videos of them and have been to see them in Turin," said Luxemburgo, whose own team suffered a 2-0 home defeat by Athletic Club Bilbao on Saturday. "We know they are a great side, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic in particular is one of their star players. We know it will be a game like no other."
Although the trainer gave no hints as to his possible lineup, with Ronaldo set to overcome an injured toe and Míchel Salgado recovered from a knock, he seems likely to field his first-choice XI with Michael Owen on the bench. "You will find out about the lineup [on Tuesday], but if Ronaldo can play then he will," he said. "He is one of the best players in the world but still, he is part of a team and how we fare will not depend on him alone."
It is clear that for Madrid, the most important game of the season is looming. Breaking away from routine, Luxemburgo switched Monday's training session from the Ciudad de Fútbol to the Santiago Bernabéu itself, reasoning: "Here we can sort out our tactics - behind closed doors."
For his part, Ronaldo admitted: "My toe still hurts but I am hoping the twinges will have subsided. This is a make-or-break match against a team who have come here to win. But we should not worry about Juve, we must focus on our own game and winning the match."
Capello, who coached Madrid in 1996/97, sounded positive at his press conference, but regarding Pavel Nedved, who is nursing a knee injury, he remained non-committal. "Pavel will train as normal and we will assess his situation after that," Capello said. Striker David Trezeguet is not so fortunate, having stayed at home with flu.
"Madrid lost on Saturday because four of their star players were absent; on Tuesday they will be playing so that result will have no bearing on this game," continued Capello, who saw Juve draw 0-0 at FC Messina Peloro at the weekend. "The same applies to us, and whatever our recent league form, this is the Champions League, a different competition and one that is very important to us. We must forget about our domestic form and think only of Tuesday's game."
Alessandro Del Piero, who scored in Juventus's 3-1 second-leg win when these teams met in the 2002/03 semi-finals, said: "It is an honour for me to be involved in a game like this, I am sure the protagonists this time will be different from the last time. A lot has changed since then, it is a different match. I would like to think that maybe I can repeat my performance from 2003, but we will have to wait and see what happens on the night."