14 September 2014 16:06
Juventus’ quest to transfer exceptional Serie A form to the UEFA Champions League will restart when they take on Malmo in Group A.
Despite winning the Italian title in each of the last three seasons, the Turin giants have failed to make an impact in Europe’s premier competition recently.
Although they made it to the quarter-finals in 2012-2013, Juventus were frustratingly eliminated in the group phase last time out – meaning it is now 11 years since they reached the last four.
They will be hoping to flip the script this year under new head coach Massimiliano Allegri, who has enjoyed a perfect start having taken the reins following the much-loved Antonio Conte’s shock resignation.
A 1-0 season-opening away win at Chievo was followed up by a 2-0 triumph over Udinese.
That Juventus have begun so well is even more impressive in light of their mounting injury problems.
Arturo Vidal (thigh), Andrea Pirlo (hip) and Giorgio Chiellini (calf) all missed the weekend’s game – while Andrea Barzagli (Achilles) was an unused sub – and it remains to be seen if any of them return on Tuesday.
Juventus, who are two-time winners of the competition, will also be without Roberto Pereyra as he serves a one-match suspension.
The Italians will still be favourites to kick-off the campaign with a win as they bid to get their hands back on a trophy which they last lifted in 1996.
Juventus have lost three finals since then, beaten by Borussia Dortmund in 1997, Real Madrid in 1998 and Milan in 2003.
The game represents a historic occasion for not just Malmo, but Swedish football overall.
Indeed, Malmo – who were beaten by Nottingham Forest in the 1978-79 European Cup final – are the first Swedish representatives in the competition proper since 2000-01.
Malmo’s last appearance was in 1990-91, when they reached the second round before losing on penalties to Dynamo Dresden.
They have not had an easy passage to the group phase this year, having been forced to come through a rigorous qualifying campaign.
The Swedes won three ties, beating FK Ventspils 1-0 on aggregate, taking down Sparta Prague on away goals following a 4-4 draw and overcoming FC Salzburg 4-2.
Malmo are already a long way into their domestic campaign, with 23 games having been played.
Age Hareide’s side currently top the pile in the Allsvenskan, sitting five points clear of an AIK side who have a game in hand. However, they have managed just one win in their last four league games.