Top spot the goal for Juventus at Sevilla

Italian champions are aiming to avoid Europe's elite in the last 16 by sealing a top spot in Group D on Tuesday


Afp December 07, 2015
PHOTO: AFP

MADRID: Italian champions Juventus are aiming to avoid Europe's elite in the Champions League last 16 by sealing top spot in Group D at Sevilla on Tuesday.

Last season's finalists lead Manchester City by two points and need just a draw at the Sanchez Pizjuan to avoid the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the knockout phase thanks to their better head-to-head record against the English side.

"Finishing top of the standings could give us a favourable draw in the first knockout round and for that reason we have to come back with a positive result on Tuesday night," defender Leonardo Bonucci told the club's website.

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"In Europe, we're perhaps not quite at the level of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid but, with a touch of luck, our usual discipline and a few moments of magic from our younger players, we can make our mark on the Champions League again this season."

Juventus have also surged back into form in Serie A with five consecutive wins to move back to within six points of leaders Inter Milan.

Injuries to the likes of Sami Khedira forced coach Massimiliano Allegri into a 3-5-2 formation with some success in recent weeks.

Pogba, Evra and Khedira mentally fit to play - Allegri

And the visitors will be boosted by the return of Paul Pogba from suspension in the 2-0 win over Lazio on Friday.

Allegri's toughest decision will be whether to start Spanish international Alvaro Morata up front on his return to his homeland or stick with Argentine wonderkid Paulo Dybala after his sensational strike against Lazio.

Four consecutive European defeats mean Sevilla are already out of the Champions League, but they can salvage the chance to win the Europa League for the third consecutive season with a victory allied to City beating Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Dybala hits stunner as Juve sink sorry Lazio

Unai Emery's men have been dogged by inconsistency this season as they sit 10th in La Liga with just five wins in their first 14 games.

However, two of those victories came against Real Madrid and Barcelona at home.

And Emery believes his side are capable of pulling off another upset on Tuesday.

"We are still lacking in many aspects even against strong teams at home," he said.

"That is our job and we need to improve, but I continue to be optimistic. In what we have left (of the Champions League) there is still room for improvement."

Sevilla have injury problems of their own, particularly in defence with Benoit Tremoulinas, Marco Andreolli, Nico Pareja and Daniel Carrico set to miss out.

Fernando Llorente and Vicente Iborra could be in line for a return to the starting line-up, though, as they came off the bench to combine for Sevilla's equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Deportivo la Coruna on Saturday.

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