By DAN KARELL
Italian soccer has taken plenty of flack recently, and the situation could grow worse if Juventus fail to win on Wednesday.
The twice-consecutive Serie A champions have yet to win a match in the UEFA Champions League this season, and face what manager Antonio Conte is calling a must-win when they host FC Copenhagen at Juventus Stadium. Despite retaking first place in Serie A this past Saturday, Juventus sit in last place in Group B.
However, successive wins against Copenhagen and Galatasaray on match day six will allow Juventus to progress to the knockout stages. Luckily for the Italian side, forward Fernando Llorente is finally beginning to rediscover his form as he’s scored in three straight matches at club level.
“We have to win if we are to continue in this competition,” Conte said at his pre-match press conference, via UEFA.com. “The match will be tough and full of danger but the solution is easy: we know we have to win, otherwise we will not have a tomorrow in the Champions League.
“I don’t need to explain anything to my players.”
Copenhagen surprised Juventus last September by holding Conte’s squad to a 1-1 draw, but with everything on the line on Wednesday, the scoreline is likely to be different.
In Group A, Manchester United have the opportunity to secure first place when they travel to the Bay Arena to face Bayer Leverkusen. David Moyes’ side dispatched the German club with ease, 4-2, but with a second straight trip abroad in the Champions League, Man United will need to produce a better performance than they had on Sunday at Cardiff City, where they settled for a 2-2 draw.
Man United will again be without Robin Van Persie and Nemanja Vidic, coupled with the long-term absentee Michael Carrick while Marouane Fellaini misses out due to suspension. However, if the English club do manage to win and Shakhtar Donetsk fail to win at home against Real Sociedad, Man United will finish in first place in the group.
Elsewhere in Champions League action on Wednesday, Bayern Munich look to win their 10th straight UCL match when they visit CSKA Moscow, which would set a new record, Real Madrid host Galatasaray without the services of Cristiano Ronaldo, and American midfielder Sacha Kljestan and his Anderlecht side take on Portuguese giants Benfica.
Here is a rundown of today’s UEFA Champions League action:
12pm – CSKA Moscow vs. Bayern Munich – Fox Deportes
2:45pm – Bayer Leverkusen vs. Manchester United – Fox Sports 1
2:45pm – Real Madrid vs. Galatasaray – Fox Sports 2
2:45pm – Manchester City vs. Viktoria Plzen – Fox Soccer Plus
2:45pm – Juventus vs. FC Copenhagen – Fox Sports Net/MSG Plus
2:45pm – Paris Saint-Germain vs. Olympiakos – Fox Soccer 2Go
2:45pm – Anderlecht vs. Benfica – Fox Soccer 2Go
2:45pm – Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Real Sociedad – Fox Soccer 2Go