Europa League Preview: Juventus – Ajax

Posted on 24/02/2010

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The Italians are aiming to finish off the job they started in Holland last week…

Kick-Off: Thursday February 25, 21:05CET, 
Stadio Olimpico Turin.


Juventus One Foot In The Last 16

Juventus will know the emphasis will be on Ajax to play their game in Turin following the 2-1 win at the Amsterdam Arena last Thursday. Miralem Sulejmani gave Gianluigi Buffon a nightmare start in goal following with left-foot strike in the first half. But Juventus pulled themselves together and a double strike from Amauri, his fourth and fifth goals of the season, saw the tie swing in favour of the Italians.

Under  Alberto Zaccheroni, Juve have enjoyed a positive run and they are unbeaten since he took over from Ciro Ferrara. Zaccheroni faced Ajax in Europe when he was at Udinese during the 1997-98 season. His side crashed out on away goals by losing 1-0 in Holland after winning the first leg in Italy 2-1.http://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/gna.en/level2;tile=4;sz=160×600;ord=927262?area=2l&pos=2&

While many suggested Juventus would be snubbing the  Europa League in favour of Champions League qualification next season, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has made it clear his side will do everything to send Ajax packing.

“We will try to close the discourse against Ajax on Thursday after we earned a nice win in the previous leg,” he told his official website.

“We are really interested in doing well in the  Europa League. Winning always gives you motivation and this is good for us as we have a series of tough games in Serie A following that.”


Ajax Have It All To Do

Ajax have been impressive domestically, with a 10-game unbeaten run across the Eredivisie and Dutch Cup, but they have lost their last two games in the Europa League. Apart from last week’s defeat to  Juventus, Martin Jol’s team also lost against Belgian side Anderlecht on December 17. It’s a trend they need to reverse if they are to cause the Italians an upset.

They will head to Turin full of confidence having beaten Vitesse 4-0 at the weekend to maintain the pressure at the top of the league. Danger man Sulejmani was rested for the game so he could be in optimum condition against the Old Lady. Siem De Jong, who was outstanding against Juve last week, came off just before the hour mark of the Vitesse win, suggesting Jol will field his strongest side.

The Lancers will be all pumped up as they have never beaten Juventus in Italy and they will want to make history, as well as seal their passage to the next round. Whoever goes through here will face either Fulham or Shakhtar Donetsk in March.


Form Guide

Juventus

February 21 v Bologna (A) – WON 2-1 (Serie A)

February 18 v Ajax (A) – WON 2-1 (Europa League)

February 14 v Genoa (H) – WON 3-2 (Serie A)

February 6 v Livorno (A) – DREW 1-1 (Serie A)

January 31 v Lazio (H) – DREW 1-1 (Serie A)


Ajax

February 21 v Vitesse (H) – WON 4-0 (Dutch Eredivisie)

February 18 v Juventus (H) – LOST 2-1 (Europa League)

February 13 v Heerenveen (A) – WON 2-0 (Dutch Eredivisie)

February 7 v  Twente (H) – WON 3-0 (Dutch Eredivisie)

February 3 v Roda JC (H) – WON 4-0 (Dutch Eredivisie)


Team News

Juventus:  Hasan Salihamdizic is suspended following his late red card in the first leg. Vincenzo Iaquinta, Christian Poulsen, Sebastian Giovinco and Martin Caceres are all out. 


Probable Starting XI: Buffon; Grygera, Legrottaglie, Chiellini; De Ceglie, Sissoko, Melo, Marchisio; Diego; Del Piero, Amauri


Ajax: Thimothee Atouba and Rasmus Lindgren are both unavailable due to injury, while Luis Suarez is suspended after his yellow card in the first leg. Gabri is match fit again and could return to the squad.

Probable Staring XI: Stekelenburg; Van der Wiel, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Anita; De Zeeuw, Enoh, De Jong; Sulejmani, Pantelic, Emanuelson.


Players To Watch

Amauri ( Juventus)

The Brazilian was a nightmare for the Ajax defence last week, and he will be another hassle for them following his return to form. Amauri has often struggled in front of goal this season. Prior to his goal against Genoa two weeks ago, he hadn’t scored since October 2009. Before his strikes against Ajax, he last bagged in Europe against Real Madrid in the Champions League in October 2008.


Marko Pantelic (Ajax) 

The Serbian hitman is Ajax’s second top scorer this season with eight goals. Suarez will be missed as he has scored 24 this term, but it’s now down to Pantelic to get the job done in Turin.


Prediction

The Bianconeri are starting to rediscover their strength and they will offer no contest to Ajax. Expect the Italians to close the tie in Turin comfortably and without too much trouble. But they need to be aware of the Dutch threat on the break. Juve struggled against quick counter-attacks in Amsterdam, and thus they need to ensure they do not give the ball away needlessly.


Juventus 2-0 Ajax


Source: Goal.com
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