Conte confident Juve can qualify

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The Independent Football

The Juventus captain, Antonio Conte, believes the Turin side can still reach the second phase of the Champions' League, despite losing Zinedine Zidane and Edgar Davids for their crucial match in Athens against Panathinaikos.

The Juventus captain, Antonio Conte, believes the Turin side can still reach the second phase of the Champions' League, despite losing Zinedine Zidane and Edgar Davids for their crucial match in Athens against Panathinaikos.

Two red cards in four minutes during Tuesday's 3-1 defeat to Hamburg have left the Italians needing a win in Greece to qualify for the next part of the tournament. Zidane was dismissed for head-butting the Hamburg defender Jochen Kientz in the 29th minute and Davids got his second booking for a late, lunging challenge on the midfielder Stig Tofting.

However, Conte believes his side have the experience and ability to pass the test. "I don't see why it should be a problem," he said. "We have to go to Athens and win, without worrying about what is going on elsewhere. It is not an easy task but it is within our reach."

An early exit from the Champions' League would be a huge dent to the Serie A club's pride as well as being costly in revenue terms. But, even if Juve did progress to the second phase, Zidane is unlikely to play much of a role. The former World Player of the Year can expect a lengthy suspension from European football's governing body, Uefa.

Zidane was only allowed to play against Hamburg after an appeal halved his suspension for the red card he received in the match against Deportivo la Coruña last month from two games to one. Uefa is now likely to take a dim view of one of the game's major role models behaving in such a violent manner.

Ancelotti described the behaviour of his two midfielders as "strange", but disciplinary problems are becoming worryingly frequent for the Turin team. Last season's European campaign ended with a 4-0 Uefa Cup fourth-round defeat to Spain's Celta Vigo after Conte and the Uruguayan defender Paolo Montero were sent off in the first half. This season, Davids and the veteran Ciro Ferrara were sent off in an Italian Cup tie against Brescia.

Zidane's dismissal on Tuesday was reminiscent of his sending off playing for France in the World Cup finals in 1998 after he stamped on the Saudi Arabia defender Fuad Amin during the hosts' 4-0 win. Zidane was suspended for two games for the offence, but did make up for the error with two goals in the 3-0 win over Brazil in the final. Juventus will be hoping the playmaker makes a similar comeback this time.

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