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Group A action in the 2009 Peace Cup kicks off with two European sides who are looking to make a huge impact in the upcoming season…

Kick-off: Friday, July 24 2009, 22:30 CET - Estadio Olimpico de la Cartuja, Seville

Back Amongst The Elite

The 2009-10 campaign will be a big season for Sevilla. Despite losing key figures such as Dani Alves, Seydou Keita and Christian Poulsen last summer, the Nervionense outfit still managed to secure an admirable third-place finish in the Primera Division last term.

They have made it back to the Champions League and are now once again hungry to challenge the Barcelona-Real Madrid duopoly in La Liga after being left to battle it out with the ‘best of the rest’ over the last two campaigns.

Ambitious and charismatic president, Jose Marie del Nido has, as usual, targeted silverware as the club’s main objective and he would love to have this prestigious pre-season trophy in the bag to give the side an immense confidence boost when the real football gets underway.

This tournament will also give Manolo Jimenez a chance to gauge his team and ascertain what major changes need to be made in order for the club to be competitive on all fronts, especially in Europe’s blue ribbon club competition.

So far in their pre-season programme, Los Nervionenses managed to thump regional side, UD Rotena 7-0, before a less impressive 1-0 victory over Conil. Serie A giants, Juventus, however, should be a different kettle of fish altogether.

Desperate To Be The Elite

If the new term is big for Sevilla, it will be massive for Juventus. With new coach, Ciro Ferrara at the helm after taking over from Claudio Ranieri at the end of last season, the club are looking forward to a new, fashionable era.

Finishing second in Serie A last season was no small feat, but their anti-climactic end to the campaign was largely a disappointment due to their inability to push ferocious foes, Inter all the way in the Scudetto race.

The Old Lady have been frantically strengthening their squad over the summer as they look to re-establish their dominance in Italian as well as European football. Fabio Cannavaro’s return to Turin after a three-year sojourn in Madrid, although not entirely popular with the tifosi, does suggest that the Bianconeri have put the Calciopoli aftermath well and truly behind them and they are now ready to construct a powerhouse squad.

Ferrara has openly admitted that that the new Juve team will need time to adapt and adjust. And he’s not wrong. After coasting easily to a 4-1 win in their opening pre-season warm-up match against fourth-tier side, Cisco Roma, they were held to unconvincing 1-1 draws by AS Nancy and Vicenza.   

PRE-SEASON FORM GUIDE

Sevilla

Jul 19 Conil 0-1 Sevilla (Friendly)

Jul 18 UD Rotena 0-7 Sevilla (Friendly)

Juventus

Jul 21 Juventus 1-1 Vicenza (Friendly)

Jul 19 AS Nancy 1-1 Juventus (Friendly)

Jul 15 Juventus 4-1 Cisco Roma (Friendly)

TEAM NEWS

Sevilla

Adriano, Federico Fazio and Tom De Mul are all nursing various injuries, although they are expected to be fit come Friday’s kick-off. Two players almost certain to miss out are strikers, Frederic Kanoute and Luis Fabiano, both of whom have yet to reach an acceptable level of match fitness and they are in fact expected to skip the early phases of this tournament altogether.

Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Palop – Adriano, Squillaci, Escude, Fernando Navarro – Jesus Navas, Duscher, Zokora, Capel/Perotti – Kone, Chevanton

Juventus

Paolo De Ceglie is still recovering from his left ankle injury. Diego is still trying to shrug off a few niggles and regain match fitness while compatriot, Felipe Melo has only just joined up with the squad following his extended holidays. Neither are expected to start. Sebastian Giovinco and Nicola Legottaglie have both also just recently begun pre-season workout but they will travel with the squad to Andalucia.

Probable Starting XI (4-3-1-2): Buffon – Zebina, Cannavaro, Chiellini, Molinaro – Camoranesi, Marchisio, Tiago – Del Piero – Amauri, Trezeguet

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Sevilla

Manolo Jimenez has stressed the importance of bolstering their midfield line for the upcoming season and new signing, Didier Zokora will be anxious to make a good impression and show this coach that he is the ideal man for the job. The Ivory Coast international will also be out to repay Sevilla’s faith in him after the club spent all that time and effort negotiating his transfer from Tottenham Hotspur.

Juventus

David Trezeguet and Amauri have each scored in two of the Old Lady's three friendlies so far. The Frenchman will be eager to prove his worth with at Juve after missing most of last season through injury and being constantly linked with an exit this summer. The Brazilian, meanwhile, will be out to atone for his unnecessary sending off in the last warm-up game against Vicenza.

PREDICTION

As pre-season matches go, performance, not results, will be the focal point for the coaches. Fine-tuning team tactics and getting every player back into their normal rhythm will be the prime objective. And with neither side yet to hit their stride, expect this to be a scrappy, cagey match.  

Sevilla 1-1 Juventus

KS Leong, Goal.com

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