European football: Business at home for busy Juventus

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The Independent Online
JUVENTUS, held to a 1-1 home draw in their midweek Champions' League tie with Dynamo Kiev, continue their busy March programme with a difficult away game against Udinese today.

Juventus are still serious contenders in three contests, interspersing their Serie A title challenge with Champions' League and Italian Cup ties. On Wednesday, they face Lazio in Rome in the second leg of the Italian Cup semi-final in which they trail the Roman side 1-0 following the first leg.

Faced with possible elimination in both the Italian Cup and the Champions' League, Juventus will be all the keener to maintain their Serie A challenge on a day when their closest rivals, second-placed Internazionale and third- placed Lazio, also face difficult games against Parma and Roma respectively.

Juventus come into Sunday's game on 51 points, four clear of Inter with Lazio two points further back in third and with Udinese fourth on 42 points. The Juventus striker Filippo Inzaghi, scorer of his side's equaliser against Dynamo Kiev, takes courage from his side's performance.

"We played very, very well and the result penalises us; we got too little out of it. Against Udinese, it'll be difficult. They play attractive, effective football and it's not for nothing that they are up in the top end of the league table. But at least they won't close down with an eight- man defence like Dynamo Kiev did," he said.

Inzaghi again partners Alessandro Del Piero in attack in a full-strength Juventus side little changed from the midweek team.

Udinese, at present enjoying one of their best ever seasons in Serie A, have come unstuck recently, losing 1-0 last week to Empoli at the end of a week when the club had been rocked by charges of tax evasion against the Pozzo family, owners of Udinese.

In front of their own fans, Udinese will clearly be keen to leave recent disappointments behind them and the side will be further motivated by memories of their 4-1 defeat by Juventus in Turin last November. Despite the scoreline, Udinese believe they were unlucky on that occasion with the referee overruling an Udinese goal when the score was 1-1. Television replays of the disallowed goal, scored by the German striker Oliver Bierhoff, showed that the ball had in fact crossed the line.