Under-strength Juventus offer Sevilla route to last 16
Sevilla have a golden opportunity to seal their return to the Champions League last 16 for the first time in seven years when a Juventus side lacking firepower visits the Sanchez Pizjuan on Tuesday.
Despite winning three consecutive Europa League titles, Sevilla have struggled to take the step up to Europe’s premier club competition in recent years, missing out on the last 16 to Juventus and Manchester City last season.
However, a repeat of their win over the Italian champions at the fortress Sanchez Pizjuan 11 months ago would seal Sevilla’s place in the last 16 as group winners.
Three wins following a 0-0 draw in Turin on matchday one means even a point would be enough to seal qualification, but Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli insists Sevilla will start with far more attacking intent than in their last meeting against Juventus.
“We neutralised them but we didn’t attack. The idea is to change that because if we restrict ourselves to neutralising them then at some point I am sure Juve will score against us,” said Sampaoli on Monday.
“The idea will be different and we will see if what we propose is enough to give us the victory.”
Sampaoli will have the luxury of welcoming back a host of first-team regulars he rested for Saturday’s last gasp 3-2 win at Deportivo la Coruna.
Spanish international Vitolo, Adil Rami and Franco Vazquez are set to return with the only doubt concerning Samir Nasri’s fitness.
The French playmaker trained on Monday despite carrying a hamstring injury.
“He will have a fitness test at six (on Tuesday) and if he is fit he will play,” added Sampaoli.
Nasri, meanwhile, believes Sevilla’s sights should be set further than just the last 16.
“We want to get to the quarter-finals. It would be very prestigious for the club to be among the eight best in Europe,” he told UEFA.com.
Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri has far more injury concerns as 90-million euro striker Gonzalo Higuain was left back in Italy due to a left thigh injury suffered in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Pescara.
With Higuain’s fellow Argentine international teammate Paulo Dybala also sidelined, 16-year-old Moise Kean is one of only two strikers included in Allegri’s 20-man squad.
Medhi Benatia and Andrea Barzagli also miss out so Daniele Rugani is set to deputise alongside Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini in defence.
Juventus were expected to launch a significant challenge to win the Champions League this season after five consecutive Serie A titles and a summer splurge in the transfer market.
However, home draws to Sevilla and Lyon mean the two-time European champions need to win in Spain to guarantee their place in the last 16.
Allegri’s men do though have the insurance policy of a home game against the pointless Dinamo Zagreb in two weeks’ time should they fail to join Barcelona as they only visiting side to win at the Sanchez Pizjuan so far this season.