Desperate Juventus in need of Bernabeu boost

Italian champions Juventus travel to face Real Madrid on Wednesday desperately needing to kickstart their Champions League campaign.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (2nd R) during a team training session in Madrid on October 22, 2013, on the eve of their Champions League match against Juventus

Juve could only manage disappointing draws against FC Copenhagen and Galatasaray in their opening two games, leaving them four points adrift of Madrid at the top of Group B.

And their confidence ahead of the daunting trip to the Santiago Bernabeu wasn't helped by a first league defeat of the season on Sunday as Fiorentina came from 2-0 down to beat Antonio Conte's men 4-2.

Conte described his side's second-half meltdown at the Artemio Franchi as a "nightmare".

However, he is hoping his side's experience will help them to get over the disappointment of defeat quickly.

"The game against Real Madrid didn't condition the game. When you are on the pitch it is difficult to think about the next game," he said.

"It is inexplicable with the experience that we have.

"It annoys us to lose, but we have to forget it quickly. We are a mature team."

Juve's two points from their opening two games mean they lead Galatasaray and Copenhagen by just a solitary point and are likely to have to take points from Madrid to avoid a tense showdown with the Turkish champions for second place in the final game in Istanbul.

Chilean international Arturo Vidal is a major doubt after he suffered a muscular problem in the latter stages against Fiorentina, whilst Stephan Lichsteiner and Mirko Vucinic are also likely to be missing.

There have been no such problems for Madrid in their opening two group games as they set a new competition record for the most prolific start to a Champions League campaign by firing 10 goals past Galatasaray and Copenhagen.

However, despite Juve's struggles so far in the competition, Madrid defender Pepe insists they deserve respect.

"We have to respect all their players. They have stars like (Gianluigi) Buffon and (Andrea) Pirlo, but I think their most important quality is their collective ability," he told the club's website.

Carlo Ancelotti's men also had a morale-boosting weekend as a 2-0 win over Malaga allied to dropped points for Barcelona and Atletico Madrid saw them move to within three points of Barca at the top of La Liga.

Gareth Bale returned for the final 13 minutes of Saturday's match following a slight thigh problem and Ancelotti didn't rule out the possibility that the Welshman could start against Juve.

"I don't think he would have any problems in playing from the start and it is an option that we have."

Ancelotti is also hoping French internationals Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane will be fit despite missing the win over Malaga with calf and knee injuries respectively.

Both players trained with the rest of the squad on Monday, as did Xabi Alonso for the first time since breaking a bone in his foot in August, but the Spanish international is not expected to be involved due to his lack of match practice.

About the author

Writer: AFP
Position: News agency