Juventus need to avoid defeat to the German club Bayern Munich if they are to advance in the Champions League.
Heavyweights are set to slug it out in Turin
Juventus have illusions of grandeur. At least that is how their head coach Ciro Ferrara interprets the strange, emphatic way his team put an end to a poor run of form on Saturday night with victory in the Derby d'Italia against Inter Milan.
"Against the big clubs, there is no extra motivation needed for my players," said Ferrara. "Unfortunately, in a season you also have to face some of the smaller ones." Ferrara and his players had a long discussion in the dressing-room at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin after the end of their 2-1 win over the Italian champions at the weekend, and Ferrara's observations about Juve's ability to rise to the heavyweight occasions and their tendency to baulk at the middleweight ones were a theme.
But his emphasis was on the grandeur he detects in a squad "where there are many champions." A fixture which by any reckoning belongs in the heavyweight class greets Juve tonight. They need to be vigilant, too, against Bayern Munich because to qualify for the next round they must avoid defeat. The contest has the flavour of a knockout tie, not just because of the status of the participants, both former European champions, but because both could still go through at the expense of the other.
Bayern, in third position in a pool that is led by an impressive Bordeaux, stand a point behind Juve and with their Bundesliga season already off course, need the fillip of Champions League survival rather desperately. At another club - an Italian one, for instance - head coach Louis Van Gaal's position would hang on the outcome. But Bayern are fearful of becoming known as trigger-happy with their coaches, after Jurgen Klinsmann lasted less than a season earlier this year, so may stick with Van Gaal, who was appointed in July, even if they fall into the Europa League tonight.
Ferrara's chief concern is that the win over Inter will have fatigued his team. Juve fought hard and the emotional pitch at which the meeting with the Serie A champions took place was also draining. "I have champions in my side and they have the right degree of tension," said Ferrara, "even if we were coming off some defeats in the lead up. Yes, it got a little heated at times and there were some words exchanged between the two benches."
Jose Mourinho was sent off in the first half, but not, Ferrara said, for any argument with his opposite number. "We responded in the right way and, naturally, we especially wanted to beat the champions of Italy. It was a deserved win and now we have to focus on Bayern. "This type of game fires players up without extra talk. The problem is we also need to play smaller sides and the points are worth the same. It's something we have to learn."
Ferrara praised both the attitude and the coolness of Claudio Marchisio, who scored the winning goal against Inter. The midfielder had been at fault for a lack of alertness leading up to Samuel Eto'o's equaliser but responded with a deftly engineered goal for 2-1. "Marchisio is a very professional guy who doesn't let success go to his head. He was coming off a tough time with the injury. He was angry with himself for losing Eto'o for Inter's goal and wanted to make up for that. It was a fantastic strike."
Other reputations had been redeemed, added Ferrara. The defender Martin Caceres, surplus to requirements at Barcelona last season, was beginning to establish himself with Juve, said the head coach. "I like him as a player. He is tough and determined and is now showing his qualities after taking a bit of time to adapt to his changed environment." Mauro Camoranesi, rested against Inter, should return tonight to give more width to Juventus.
"He understood we wanted a different midfield against Inter," said Ferrara. "Mauro had also been playing a lot, so he can come back a bit fresher now." firstname.lastname@example.org Juventus v Bayern Munich, KO 11.45pm, Aljazeera +4