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Europa League Preview: Juventus - Fulham

Kick-Off: March 11, 2010, Thursday, 21:05 CET.
Stadio Olimpico, Turin, Italy.

Rejuvenated And Resurrected

Alberto Zaccheroni will probably not stay on as the Juventus coach beyond the end of the current season but his impact on the Bianconeri has been massive so far. The Old Lady were struggling for a place in the top six in Serie A when the 56-year-old arrived and although Juve are currently fifth in the league standings with 44 points from 27 league matches, things have improved since his arrival.

Juventus were given a tricky tie in the Round of 32 in the Europa League as they were pitted against Dutch powerhouse and former European champions Ajax, but they came through quite comfortably in the end. After defeating the Godenzonen 2-1 in the first leg at the Amsterdam ArenA, the Bianconeri played out a 0-0 draw in Turin to progress 2-1 on aggregate.

However, Juventus will be wary of playing Fulham. Even though the Cottagers have an inferior pedrigree in Europe to Juve, they have been in great form so far this campign in the Premier League and, playing against more illustrious opponents, they will have nothing to lose.


Flying High


Fulham have been going pretty strong this season in most competitions. Although a European spot in the table looks almost impossible now, at the moment they are actually 10th in the table with 38 points from 28 matches.

This weekend Roy Hodgson's side featured in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, but failed to beat Tottenham Hotspur at home, limping to a 0-0 draw and being forced into a replay. However, that shouldn't demotivate a club that have flirted with relegation on several occasions since arriving back in English football's top flight in 2001.

Fulham narrowly defeated Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 32. They won 2-1 at home and held the 2009 UEFA Cup winners to a 1-1 draw in the away leg. For a club of their budget and size, featuring in the last 16 stage and locking horns with one of the giants of European football is an achievement in itself. Moreover, playing away from home in the first leg in the pre-quarterfinals is actually an advantage for the Lilywhites.


FORM GUIDE


Juventus

March 6 v Fiorentina (A) - WON 2-1 (Serie A)

February 28 v Palermo (H) - LOST 2-0 (Serie A)

February 25 v Ajax (H) - DREW 0-0 (Europa League)

February 21 v Bologna (A) - WON 2-1 (Serie A)

February 18 v Ajax (A) - WON 2-1 (Europa League)

Fulham

March 6 v Tottenham Hotspur (H) - DREW 0-0 (FA Cup)

February 28 v Sunderland (A) - DREW 0-0 (Premier League)

February 25 v Shakhtar Donetsk (A) - DREW 1-1 (Europa League)

February 21 v Birmingham City (H) - WON 2-1 (Premier League)

February 18 v Shakhtar Donetsk (H) - WON 2-1 (Europa League)


TEAM NEWS

Juventus

Buffon, Chimenti, Amauri, Giovinco and Chiellini are struggling with injuries while there are concerns over the fitness of Legrottaglie, Camoranesi and Diego. Marchisio is suffering from fever and it is not confirmed at the moment whether he will feature on Thursday evening or not.

Probable Line-up (4-3-1-2): Manninger, Grygera, Legrottaglie, Cannavaro, Grosso; Sissoko, Candreva, Marchisio; Diego; Trezeguet, Del Piero

Fulham

The English side will line up in a 4-4-1-1 formation. USA international Clint Dempsey, Ghana defender John Pantsil and Andrew Johnson remain unavailable.

Probable Line-up (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Kelly; Duff, Etuhu, Greening, Davies; Gera; Zamora.


PLAYER TO WATCH

Diego (Juventus)

The Brazilian trequartista was impressive against Ajax in the return leg and he will again be the creator-in-chief for the Bianconeri on Thursday. Diego scored against Fiorentina at the weekend and looked to be in great shape and form. The 25-year-old led Werder Bremen to the final of the UEFA Cup in 2009 and he will be the main player that the Fulham defenders will have to keep an eye on.

Bobby Zamora (Fulham)

The 29-year-old is Fulham's leading scorer and will be a headache for the Juventus defenders. Zamora has scored eight times in the Premier League with four assists and has netted the ball thrice and given one assist in the Europa League. He failed to score against Spurs at the weekend and will be raring to give his side an away goal to take home after Thursday's match.


PREDICTION

Playing at home in the first leg in a Cup tie in Europe is never an easy task and indeed Fulham will be happy with a scoring draw. However, on paper, Juventus do have a better attacking unit and they should be able to score, although their problems at the back could enable the Cottagers to return home with a precious away goal.

Juventus 2-1 Fulham

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