RC Deportivo La Coruña have revenge as well as progress in mind as they prepare to face Juventus FC.
By Graham Hunter in La Coruna
RC Deportivo La Coruña have revenge as well as a place in the last eight on their minds as they face last season's beaten finalists Juventus FC. Marcello Lippi's team eliminated the Spanish side with a 92nd-minute winner in the penultimate game in the second group stage last season, but Deportivo now have this quick opportunity to pay back a side they have faced in each of the last four seasons.
Lack of goals
However Deportivo's Primera División form has stuttered recently and the goalless draw against Club Atlético de Madrid last weekend highlighted Diego Tristán's lack of sharpness in front of goal. His main striking partner Alberto Luque is confused as to why the duo are not clicking.
Luque said: "I think that, at the moment, we are generally playing better than we were. However Diego and I do sit down after games and try to analyse how things are going between us on the pitch. Although we have always benefited from a terrific understanding we cannot understand why we are misfiring a little at the moment.
Confidence in Tristán
He added: "
We need to take a good lead to Turin and I think Diego Tristán is as good a striker as there is so hopefully this game will see the end of our difficulties. This is a good time to play Juventus because not only is this the route to the quarter-final but I believe the draw we suffered against them at our stadium last season was an unjust result."
However, the pressure which Deportivo coach Javier Irureta is placing on his strikers before the visit of the Italian champions took its toll yesterday. Irureta is infamous for previous heated exchanges with Tristán, Djalminha, Enrique Romero and Walter Pandiani, and during Monday's training session Luque became the latest name on that list.
The coach was urging Luque to be more vocal in his demands to receive the ball when the Spanish international threw down his bib, walked out of the session and went home. Irureta later played down the incident saying that he was not offended by Luque's actions - and it would be no surprise to see the Catalan buzzing with energy and aggression if he plays against Juventus.
"I want to see my team using the ball quickly in the counterattack against Juventus," explained Irureta who may replace midfield man Sergio González with experienced playmaker Fran to increase the quality of Deportivo's creativity.
For the visitors, David Trezeguet should be fit to play after bruising a thigh muscle in the Coppa Italia victory against FC Internazionale and the only notable absences will be Igor Tudor and Enzo Maresca, who has suffered a back injury and is likely to be replaced by Stephen Appiah.
Juve coach Marcello Lippi, who has made winning the Champions League his team's priority this season after the disappointment of losing last year's final to AC Milan, said: "For us going to play in La Coruna is not a new experience.
It helps us that we know their team well but I also need to point out that they have a good squad so this will be a tough match."
Lippi added: "The main danger is that we have given away too many goals this year but the responsibility is not solely [with] the defence. I do not believe that I have ever had all my best players in top condition at the same time."