Hasan Salihamidzic is set to renew old rivalries with Rafael van der Vaart tonight when Juventus host Real in their Champions League Group H match. Until signing for Juventus in Jan 2007 Salihamidzic played his football in the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich where he would come up against Van der Vaart, who plied his trade with Hamburg. The Dutchman joined Real Madrid a few months ago and while Juve have made a disappointing start in Serie A, losing their last two games, Real sit comfortably in second position in the Primera Liga.
However, Salihamidzic believes the Italians can shine against Europe's elite. He also is relieved the "Old Lady" are back in the competition again so quickly after their exile following the match-fixing scandal two years ago. Despite relegation to Serie B, Juve completed a stunning turnaround last season to clinch a place in the Champions League. The winger, 31, who fled war-torn Bosnia for Germany in 1992 after working as a waiter in a local restaurant for six months to earn enough money for a ticket, said: "I feel good about our chances of going very far in this competition. We have a good team of young players and experienced older ones.
"I don't want to say we will win it because you need a bit of luck in this and it is not always the best team who wins the trophy or the one with the biggest stars. You have to be a good group, like Liverpool showed when they won three years ago. "Of course Real have a good chance, but we feel we can compete against any of the teams like Real, Chelsea or Manchester United." Of his move to Italy, he said: "I had great times at Bayern, but I wanted to try something new.
"I am very happy to be at Juventus because it is different and one of the best leagues in the world." And of Van der Vaart, he said: "I understood what the situation was like for Rafael in the summer because he did not want to let Hamburg down. "But with respect to them and the Bundesliga, as a player you want to test yourself for the best teams, in the best leagues, and show what you can do." email@example.com