Juventus vs Olympiakos: Bianconeri aim to get back on track

Juventus
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Juventus will be aiming to get back on track in their European campaign as they welcome Olympiakos to the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Despite maintaining a 100 per cent winning start in Serie A – along with Napoli – Juventus have not started off well in the Champions League. They were outplayed and outclassed in their group stage opener as Barcelona got revenge for their quarter-finals defeat from last season, albeit injuries and some key departures certainly did not help Massimiliano Allegri’s men one bit.

Lionel Messi finally ended his hoodoo against Gianluigi Buffon as the five-time Ballon d’Or winner netted a brace during the 3-0 rout of the Bianconeri. However, Juventus were missing key players like Mario Mandzukic, Sami Khedira, and Giorgio Chiellini all due to injury, whilst both Dani Alves and Leonardo Bonucci opted to ply their trades with PSG and AC Milan.

That result sees La Vecchia Signora at the bottom of their quartet, but they have a perfect opportunity to make amends. Olympiakos are a club in disarray at the moment. For starters, the Greek side are coming into this game having lost their derby clash against AEK Athens, leading to the sacking of Besnik Hasi and Takis Lemonis has been hired in his stead. In addition, Olympiakos don’t have a good record against Serie A teams. They’ve lost seven out of their last 11 fixtures against Italian teams, and rather infamously lost 7-0 to Juventus back in 2003 – which is the Bianconeri’s joint-best European result.

By contrast, Juventus cruised to a comfortable 4-0 win in their own derby clash against Torino and will be hungry to pick up all three points having crumbled against Barcelona, who will certainly defeat Sporting CP to continue to pull ahead on top of this quartet. As such, it’s imperative that Allegri’s side take care of business on Wednesday in order to make amends from their disappointing showing at Camp Nou on matchday one.

New signing Benedikt Howedes is still out, as he suffered a setback in his recovery from a muscular problem, and Khedira has been included in the matchday squad, having returned back to training. However, Croatian international Marko Pjaca is still out, as is defender Mattia De Sciglio. Gonzalo Higuain was dropped for the Derby della Mole but should return to the starting XI for this fixture, and whilst his poor form in front of goal is a major source of concern, fans will be hoping that Paulo Dybala’s red hot form in Serie A can translate into some goals in the Champions League, whilst veteran attacker Mandzukic certainly is no stranger to chipping with a goal as fans have seen time and time again.

Juventus haven’t lost three straight European fixtures in well over 20 years and certainly are not expected to do so on Wednesday, and given that they are 23 games unbeaten on home turf are the clear favorites to pick up all three points in this match. That being said, the Bianconeri will go some ways to assuage their support by getting back on track with a resounding win to finally get their European campaign up and running on matchday two.

Michelle Bonsu

Freelance football journalist based in New York. Primarily support AC Milan as well as the Ghanaian and Italian NT’s, but you’ll find me watching the Bundesliga and Premier League as well–enjoy a good game, regardless of where it’s being played. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of my favourite players.