MADRID (Sporting Alert) — Gareth Bale is set to start on the bench for Real Madrid in tonight’s Champions League Group B clash with Juventus at Santiago Bernabeu.
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The Wales forward returned from a thigh strain to feature off the bench for Real Madrid in last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Malaga, but manager Carlo Ancelotti is expected to stick with Angel Di María in his starting lineup for the Juventus clash.
Striker Karim Benzema (calf), Raphaël Varane (knee) and Fábio Coentrão (wisdom tooth) are all available for the contest, while the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Isco are looking forward to facing the Italian champions.
” We expect a strong Juventus team, despite having lost to Fiorentina, they are a great team and very experienced,” Ronaldo warned.
“We have to play with intensity and concentration because that is the only way to win. They are a very strong and compact team.
“It is difficult to beat them and it would be unfair to choose one single player. I feel more towards Tevez because he has played with me.”
Former Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez has had an impressive start for Juventus and the Argentine forward is expected to be a handful for the Real Madrid defense.
The clash is set to draw an huge audience and Juventus coach Antonio Conte, who watched his team give up a 2-0 lead in a 4-2 defeat to Fiorentina at the weekend believes his team is ready to bounce back.
“It’s a very exciting match for us,” Conte said. “What happened against Fiorentina has happened many times in more important games, like the UEFA Champions League finals between Milan and Liverpool or Manchester United and Bayern.
“These things happen in football. Our stats speak for themselves. We have good ball possession and we play offensively.”
Juventus is expected to be without Fabio Quagliarella, Mirko Vučinić and Stephan Lichtsteiner who are still sidelined with injuries.
Match fact- UEFA.com
• The teams have faced each other 14 times – all in the European Cup – with home advantage proving key: Madrid’s home record is W4 L2 while Juventus’s is W5 L1. They met in the 1998 final in Amsterdam when a 66th-minute Predrag Mijatović goal ended the Merengues’s 32-year wait for their seventh European title.