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Ferrara under fire

Storm clouds gather over Juventus

The do-or-die Champions League Group A ‘final’ between Bayern and Juventus takes place a week from now. Germany’s leading club must win to claim a place in the last sixteen. Any other result means FCB will continue this term’s European campaign in the Europa League. In the build-up to the crucial showdown, has cast an eye over the situation at the Turin club.

There was certainly one overjoyed character at Juve on Tuesday, where Hasan Salihamidzic resumed the squad programme after months on the sidelines. Niggling knee and ankle problems have restricted the former FCB favourite to just one outing so far, on the very first matchday in Serie A. The Bosnian now aims to work his way back into contention, but the Bayern clash almost certainly comes too soon for him.

Consecutive defeats

Salihamidzic aside, it is hard to find smiling faces among the Bianconeri at the present time, as two defeats on the bounce have created an air of despondency in the Juventus camp. A 2-0 reverse in Bordeaux meant Juve missed out on guaranteeing their spot in the Champions League knockout stages and could now be knocked out of the competition altogether. Saturday’s away defeat by the same score to Cagliari saw the north Italians slip to third in the Serie A standings, fully eight points off leaders Inter.

A storm of criticism has been directed at coach Ciro Ferrara and former Bremen man Diego. “Juve have no soul. The coach has to act fast,” urged Gazzetta dello Sport. Rival sports paper Tuttosport slammed Diego’s playmaking as “confused and devoid of purpose”. A knot of angry Tifosi gathered at Turin airport to jeer the players and officials on their return from Cagliari.

Weekend clash with Inter

In response, Juventus president Jean-Claude Blanc felt it necessary to issue a vote of confidence in the coach and players on Monday. “We have complete faith in him. Results in our next two games won’t change that,” said Blanc, “I’m convinced by our signings and the quality in the team.”

However, the situation is threatening to deteriorate at the weekend, as imperious leaders Inter are due at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday. An away win would effectively nix Juve’s title chances this term. “Juventus will have to give it 100 percent,” noted Ivica Olic, reckoning that was a slight plus for Bayern, who also have one day more to prepare for the European showdown: “Our game is on Friday,” the striker observed.