Juve set sights on Serie A after Champions League setback

25 October 2013 09:53

Champions Juventus are expected to return to Serie A with fire back in the belly after a brace from Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo virtually extinguished their Champions League hopes.

Juve host Genoa on Sunday with the pain of Wednesday's Cristinao Ronaldo-inspired 2-1 defeat at Real Madrid still fresh in their minds.

However Antonio Conte's men won't have time to ponder too long, with Roma five points ahead of both Juve and second-placed Napoli, and the capital club looking to make it nine wins from nine on their visit to Udinese.

Juventus battled to the quarter-final stages of the competition last season before being dumped from the tournament by eventual champions Bayern Munich.

This season, the Bianconeri risk not even making it to the last 16 knockout phase, a prospect raised by Conte after the setback in Madrid.

"Now we have a difficult Champions League in front of us. It will be tough, but we still depend on ourselves," said Conte, whose side now sit third in Group B on two points from three games.

A win against Genoa is expected, especially as it comes a week after a stunning collapse away to Fiorentina who overturned a 2-0 deficit in late in the second half to run out 4-2 winners at the Artemio Franchi stadium.

Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez, arguably the first name on Conte's teamsheet each week, called for Juve to regroup.

"Real's visit to Turin will probably be decisive for us, but for now we have to start thinking again about the league," said Tevez.

Juve's first league defeat allowed Napoli to bounce back up to second place on goal difference and Rafael Benitez's men have a chance to reduce the five-point gap to Roma in Sunday's early match at home to mid-table Torino.

Unlike Juve, Napoli are in buoyant mood after a 2-1 away win away to Marseille left them third in a tight Group F in which all top three teams - Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and Napoli - resting on six points.

Benitez's men should be looking to make amends for a 2-0 loss away to Roma, who will travel north to Udinese without three key players.

Francesco Totti was forced off injured at the Olympic Stadium last week and is expected to be out action until mid-November.

Ivorian striker Gervinho could be missing for two weeks due to a minor thigh injury, while Mattia Destro is a doubt as he continues a gradual return to full training with the rest of the team following a recent injury knock.

Udinese hope to take advantage, but midfielder Giampaolo Pinzi admits the Giallorossi remain formidable opponents, especially in defence.

"Roma are having a great start to the season and know that we can be strong at home. I think we will give them a game," said Pinzi.

"They have strength in depth. And if you look at the statistics their defence is solid, they've conceded only one goal."

A shock defeat for Garcia's men would be their first in the league this season and boost both Napoli and Juve, and a few other sides desperate to stay in touch with the pacesetters.

In what will be their first home game since Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir acquired a majority 70 percent stake in the club, Inter Milan, devoid of European football this season, could leapfrog Verona into fourth place with a win over the league new boys.

Fiorentina, in fifth, are nine points behind Roma but only four behind Napoli and Juventus and hoping to build on last week's stunning victory over Juve with a trip away to third-from-bottom Chievo.

AC Milan injected some life into their mediocre start with a hard-fought win over Udinese last week and after a promising 1-1 draw at home to Barcelona will be looking for more of the same away to Parma.

Fixtures (GMT)


Sampdoria v Atalanta (1600), Inter v Verona (1845)


Napoli v Torino (1030), Bologna v Livorno, Catania v Sassuolo, Chievo v Fiorentina, Juventus v Genoa, Parma v Milan, Udinese v Roma (all 1300), Lazio v Cagliari (1845)

Source: AFP