Juventus enter the snake pit

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The Independent Online
Juventus, the European Cup holders, take their Champions' League campaign to the snake pit of the Fenerbahce stadium tonight - and will have more to contend with than just the Turkish league champions.

"Juventus will leave the Fenerbahce Stadium crestfallen because we have supporters like no other team in Europe," Ali Sen, the Fenerbahce president, said.

"Our fans will have more to do than the managers and the players on the pitch."

Fenerbahce have a noisy, enthusiastic and sometimes violent following of almost half of Turkey's 60 million population.

The fiery Sen is known for stirring up the fans. After he vehemently complained of discrimination against Fenerbahce last year the fans took to the streets, spoiling for a fight and chanting: "Let no one mess with us or there will be a massacre!"

Despite all Ali's big talk, Marcello Lippi, the Juventus coach, said yesterday that his team would not be intimidated by the crowd.

"This will be a difficult match, but because of Fenerbahce's technique rather than the atmosphere and spectators." he said.

The Turin side will go into tonight's game in confident mood following their impressive 1-0 win over Manchester United in their opening Champions' League Group C match two weeks ago.

Juventus received a further boost last weekend by a 2-1 away win over Perugia which gave them a share of the lead in Serie A alongside Internazionale and Parma.

Lippi plans team changes, expecting different conditions from those of Sunday's match which was played on a heavy, rain-soaked pitch. "The whole point of a large squad is to make changes and to rotate the players." he said.

Their striker Christian Vieri, dropped against Perugia, returns in place of Nicola Amoruso alongside the Croat Alen Boksic and Alessandro Del Piero - the two players Fenerbahce's Brazilian coach, Sebastiao Lazaroni, fears most.

The French pair, Didier Deschamps and Zinedine Zidane, should be partnered by Antonio Conte in midfield but the Italian's first-choice goalkeeper, Angelo Peruzzi, is almost certain to be a non-starter because of injury. Michelangelo Rampulla will deputise.

Fenerbahce's attack will be led by the Bosnian, Elvir Bolic, and Tarik Dasgun. Tarik, who has failed to impress in European matches so far, replaces the suspended Bulgarian, Emil Kostadinov.

Lazaroni was in upbeat mood on the eve of the game. "Juventus play a short-passing game so we will not leave them any space to move in." he said. "We will constantly put pressure on them."

Juventus (probable): Rampulla; Porrini, Ferrara, Montero, Pessotto, Conte, Deschamps, Zidane, Del Piero, Vieri, Boksic.

Fenerbahce (probable): Rustu; Okechukwu, Hogh, Halil Ibrahim, Ilker, Kemalettin, Tuncay, Okocha, Bulent, Bolic, Tarik.