Madrid to test Juve credentials

Form guide: Revitalised by Vanderlei Luxemburgo, Real Madrid CF take on an off-form Juventus FC side.

With the UEFA Champions League set to resume after its winter break, uefa.com looks at the form of the 16 clubs involved in the first-leg ties this week

Real Madrid CF v Juventus FC
December started well enough for Madrid who qualified for the first knockout stage by beating AS Roma 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico. But there was certainly not much Christmas cheer for the Madrileños, who saw out 2004 with a 1-0 home defeat by Sevilla FC. However, the arrival of Arrigo Sacchi as director of football and then Vanderlei Luxemburgo, who replaced Mariano García Remón as coach, revitalised the team. Striker Fernando Morientes left for Liverpool FC while Danish international midfield player Thomas Gravesen was signed from Everton FC, and the new year opened with a 2-1 win against Real Sociedad de Fútbol.

A string of victories against Club Atlético de Madrid, Real Zaragoza, RCD Mallorca, CD Numancia, RCD Espanyol and CA Osasuna took Madrid to within four points of leaders FC Barcelona. Just as Madrid's early-season difficulties seemed to have been put behind them, though, problems returned on Saturday when Athletic Club Bilbao came away from the Bernabéu with maximum points after a 2-0 win. Luxemburgo rested Raúl González, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo with one eye on Tuesday's duel with Juventus, and the decision backfired as Barcelona stretched their lead at the top of the Primera División to seven points.

Players registered: Thomas Gravesen, Javier Portillo, Javier Paredes Arango.
Players out: Fernando Morientes, Diego León Ayarza.

Saturday's goalless draw at FC Messina Peloro cost Juventus the lead in Serie A and was the latest in a recent series of slips by the Turin club who have won just four of their nine league games since the turn of the year. After winning Champions League Group C at a canter, Juve consolidated top spot in Serie A at the end of last year by beating Bologna FC and drawing with title rivals AC Milan. Their good form continued into 2005, but dipped sharply after Pavel Nedved injured his knee in victory over Brescia Calcio on 23 January.

Juve started February with an eight-point cushion at the top of Serie A, but defeats by UC Sampdoria and US Città di Palermo within the space of four days let Milan back into the title race. Coach Fabio Capello's cause has not been helped by a recent spate of illness and injuries. Olivier Kapo is still out with a strained muscle, but Nedved, who missed Saturday's draw in Sicily, could make his return against Madrid. French striker David Trezeguet will not travel to Spain after also sitting out Saturday's match with flu.

Players registered: Adrian Mutu, Domenico Criscito, Andrea Masiello.
Players out: Igor Tudor, Nicola Legrottaglie, Mark Iulanio.

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