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Oct 21, 2008

Juventus under pressure as Real come to town

The pressure will continue to mount on Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri on Tuesday night as his struggling team host nine-times European champions Real Madrid in Turin in the standout clash of the evening's Champions League ties.

Real are top of Group H with maximum points and Juve are also well-placed with four points from two matches, but consecutive defeats in Serie A have sapped the confidence of the mid-table Turin club who are suffering a minor crisis.

The Bianconeri are already seven points adrift of Serie A leaders Internazionale following Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Napoli, while in Europe they are still trying to recover from an embarrassing draw in their last game at Bate Borisov.

But despite failing to win in the past five games Ranieri has been given another vote of confidence by Juventus executives ahead of the Madrid encounter, and Ranieri has also received the backing of his players.

''It's absurd to put the blame on the coach,'' said Juve defender Giorgio Chiellini. ''It's ridiculous. There is no sense in finding a guilty party.

''On Tuesday, we face Madrid and this is the right game to turn our season around.''

Such is Juve's history in European competitions that the seven-time European Cup finalists are nicknamed 'The Old Lady' but the absence of injured star striker David Trezeguet and keeper Gianluigi Buffon will not help their cause on Tuesday.

Madrid, meanwhile, travel to the Stadio Olimpico inspired by their perfect start to the Champions League with a 2-0 triumph against Bate Borisov and a 2-1 win at Zenit St Petersburg.

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