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Juve look to bounce back from weekend loss

With a crushing league loss over the weekend to second placed Inter Milan, Juve lost for the first time in 50 matches. It would have hurt the Turin club’s ego that they lost in the manner they did, having taken the lead within 18 seconds of the start, and they will no doubt look to bounce back with a trouncing of Group E minnows, Nordsjaelland. Juve also need the win quite desperately, considering that they have drawn all three of their group games thus far, and sit third, behind Shakhtar Donetsk, and Chelsea.

Nordsjaelland, who currently sit second in the Danish Superliga, only have one point from their three games in this year’s Champions League. However, they will take heart from the fact that it came in a 1 -1 draw against their current opponents, although the home ground advantage probably played its part. The reigning Danish champions have only a mathematical chance of progress, and will be playing for pride.

Form

Juventus: W D W W L

The loss to Inter Milan aside, Juve have been in prime form in the Serie A, with their defence being top notch in virtually every game they have played. Their form in the Champions League, however, has been lukewarm at best. After draws against Chelsea, and Donetsk, Juve were expected to beat Nordsjaelland comfortably, but fell woefully short. Tonight, with Mirko Vucinic a doubtful starter, Juve will again look to their defence to come to their rescue, as they attempt to finish the plethora of chances they have been creating up front. Sebastian Giovinco was impressive in the loss to Inter, and will be hoping to bag a goal or two for himself in Vucinic’s absence.

Nordsjaelland: W D W L W

Within touching distance of FC Copenhagen in the league, Nordsjaelland are the only Danish club in the Champions League, and will be looking to put up a fight to match those by Copenhagen in the seasons past. They have won both their league matches since the last time these two teams met, and have lost one in extra time, in the Danish cup. There will be plenty of Danish fans wishing for a better showing from their nation’s club than the lone point, and goal that they’ve mustered thus far. With Juve’s pride broken by Inter, there couldn’t be a better time for Nordsjaelland to face them, and try to go one better than the draw they earned last time out.

Injuries

Juventus: Mirko Vucinic.

Nordsjaelland: Lasse Petry, Joe Sise, Nicolai Stokholm.

Key Clashes

Andrea Pirlo vs Jesper Hansen

Nordsjaelland have proven themselves to be clumsy tacklers, and have the worst disciplinary record in the group, with 8 yellow cards thus far. If many of these tackles happen anywhere around 25-35 yards from goal, Nordsjaelland may as well bid adieu to their hopes of salvaging anything from this game. As he showed in Euro 2012, Andrea Pirlo is one of the best set-piece takers today, and will be sure to punish the defensive mistakes. Whether picking out a teammate with a pinpoint pass, or finding the top corner of the net, Pirlo is equally capable of doing both. Attempting to stop him will be Danish keeper, Hansen, who pulled off an astonishing 8 saves in a man-of-the-match performance when these two teams last met.

Joshua John vs Andrea Barzagli

Barzagli, whose performance thus far in the season had been impressive, was run ragged by the Diego Milito, and Nagatomo over the weekend. Whether the Italian defender has recovered from the shock or not will be tested by Joshua John, who is Nordsjaelland’s top scorer this season, with 8 goals to his credit. Playing as part of a 3-man defence, it will be crucial for Juve that Barzagli performs well, especially if Lichsteiner fails to provide adequate cover, while Joshua will be looking to score in the Champions League as a personal accolade.

What to expect

A drab affair, with Juve looking to break down Nordsjaelland, who in all likelihood, will park the bus and attempt to hit Juve on the break. With their attack not looking its sharpest in recent times, having scored just 4 times from 63 attempts in the Champions League, set-pieces, taken by the master, Pirlo, will be key for Juve. Then again, Juve will be keen to allay all concerns of a slump, and in front of their home fans, might just give the minnows a whipping.

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