The Bianconeri continue their competitive campaign with a potential banana skin…
Having battled their way past Dinamo Tbilisi 3-1 over two legs, Sturm Graz’s reward for their efforts is an encounter against Serie A giants Juventus. Sturm are by no means strangers to European competition, having featured in the Champions League on several occasions, even managing to progress to the second group stage in 2000, but such heady days are a thing of the past. It’s been close to a decade since they were even in the top two of the Austrian Bundesliga, and their cup glory last season has simply offered them a window from which to look back into their golden age.
Juventus are another side struggling to come to grips with present day demands. Since the Calciopoli scandal they have gone without winning any silverware, aside from the 2007 Serie B crown, and the high hopes the club had before last season have wholly been obliterated by a turgid campaign that saw them ultimately finish seventh in Serie A yet still sneak in the European back door. Once again this season is about the Old Lady getting her pomp back, and after a dramatic defeat to Fulham last term in this very competition, the Bianconeri will be wary to treat every opponent with the utmost respect. Doing exactly that against Shamrock Rovers in the last round, they earned a 3-0 aggregate win.
Midfielder Mario Kienzl continues to be sidelined on a long-term basis, but Sturm otherwise hope to have a complete squad ready to face Juve.
Probable Starting XI: Gratzei; Strandfest, Schildenfeld, Feldhofer, Purcher; Weber; Holzl, Bukva, Muratovic; Kienast, Szabics
Juve continue to be without injured goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, but they should otherwise have a complete panel for this encounter. With the start of the Serie A season still over a week away, a strong squad should be deployed by Luigi Del Neri.
Despite reports linking him with a move back to Germany, Diego has been named in Juve’s Europa League squad.
Probable Starting XI: Storari; Motta, Bonucci, Chiellini, De Ceglie; Lanzafame, Sissoko, Marchisio, Pepe; Diego; Amauri