Tuesday 23 October 2018

Match preview: Man Utd v Juventus

United face the Old Lady of Italian football for the first time in 15 years as the seven time defending Serie A champions arrive at Old Trafford with ten wins from 11 ties in all competitions in 2018-19.
Hot on the heels of the trip to Stamford Bridge, in which United plundered a heroic point, the Reds face another litmus test against a side who have reached two Champions League finals in the last four seasons. Star studded Juve - also know as La Biaconeri (the Black and Whites) - are undisputed kings of Italy, they're favourites to land yet another domestic title and have also been widely tipped to go all the way again in Europe.

Already a heavyweight encounter, the homecoming of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo - the former United man now plying his trade for Massimiliano Allegri's men - is an intriguing subplot to a tie already full of a stellar cast list. CR7 enjoyed six memorable seasons in the Red of United before he left for Real Madrid in 2009, and he signed for Juve for £99 million in the summer in a deal no-one saw coming. Sent off in the Group H opener against Young Boys, Ronaldo started for Juventus at the weekend and scored 18 minutes into the game at home to Genoa. The Serie A giants were unable to hold onto their lead and conceded an equaliser through Daniel Bessa in the second-half for the only blot on their otherwise perfect domestic and European copybook so far this season.

Allegri's Juventus lead Group H by two points after winning both their opening game away to Valencia (2-0) and Young Boys (3-0). United are two points behind after beating Young Boys by the same scoreline and 0-0 with the Spanish club last time out.

United, who face Juve in a competitive fixture for the first time since 2003, are two points behind.
Alexis Sanchez has been ruled out of the tie through an unspecified injury, but Antonio Valencia is available again after an operation on his mouth. Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Scott McTominay were not spotted by the cameras at Monday's training and could also be absent when the Serie A champions provide the opposition in front of a capacity crowd. Under-23 players Tom Sang, Zak Dearnley and Tahith Chong did train with the main group but are unlikely to be involved. Emre Can, Sami Khedira and Mario Mandzukic are all absent for the visitors. Paul Pogba is also set for a reunion with his former employers.

Jose Mourinho said: "Juventus have a lot to offer and an extra year with the same coach and structure
"They have won seven titles on the trot and a really special player who makes a real difference.
"They are more than a contender for the Champions League.
"We have shown our form in the last two matches, the way we want to play and the way we can play in the past two matches, it will be very difficult but let's try to do it again."

A daunting fixture against one of the best in the business, then, but no one gave us a prayer at Chelsea and look what happened there. Let's do this!

Form guide: United D D L D W D Juventus W W W W W D
Match odds: United 12/5 Draw 12/5 Juventus 8/7
Referee: Serbian official Milorad Mazic is the man in the middle

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