Juventus v Manchester City – Europa League
European ties against the likes of Juventus were nothing more than a pipe-dream for Manchester City fans a few years ago. Is it complacency, therefore, that they are now viewed as a distraction rather than a bonus?
City fans have, of course, more to concern them than some relatively meaningless Europa League match at the moment. Roberto Mancini’s team have already qualified for the knockout stages and will top their section if they win in the Stadio Olimpico against a Juve side that has drawn all five of their games so far and now have no prospect of further progress. But City will have to achieve that result without captain Carlos Tevez, who stunned Eastlands by handing in a written transfer request last week. Whether it’s the Argentinian or his agent that’s decided his future lies away from the north west is a matter of conjecture, but Tevez is known to be unhappy that he’s separated from his family for long periods and actively seeking a move back to South America. What many have taken issue with, however, is the way he and his entourage are attempting to force City’s hand and it’s no surprise the relationship between player and club has broken down.
Tevez won’t be in Turin this week, and neither will manager Mancini who is having corrective back surgery. But they probably won’t be the only big-name absentees as the Sky Blues could also rest the likes of Yaya Toure, David Silva and Gareth Barry, while Juve fans won’t get the opportunity to racially abuse Mario Balotelli as they did when he played in Turin for Inter last season.
Juventus are flying high in Serie A and beat fellow title challengers Lazio at the weekend. But they, too, could make changes for City’s visit with an important game against Chievo only four days away. That could mean a start for veteran Alessandro Del Piero, his team’s top scorer this season along with Fabio Quagliarella, with Mohamed Sissoko, Armand Traore and striker Simone Pepe also expected to win a recall after being benched against Lazio.
Despite Saturday’s win at West Ham, one can’t imagine that the Manchester City dressing room is a particularly happy place at the moment and they could be excused to taking their eye off the ball in this one. Juve were their equal at Eastlands and got a deserved draw – with home advantage, they could easily better that result.
A Juventus win is 7/5, while it’s Evens for exactly 2 or 3 goals in the Total Goals Market.