Both pointless and adrift at the bottom of Group H, Juventus and Maccabi Haifa resume their Champions League campaigns with a must-win fixture on Wednesday.
Having given Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica a six-point head start, the teams convene in Turin for the first game of a double-header which could effectively decide their fate in Europe.
For the first time, Juventus have lost both of their opening group games, following successive defeats to PSG and – just before the international break – their expected rivals for second spot in Group E, Benfica.
Soon after being held to a domestic draw by lowly Salernitana, the Bianconeri then threw away a lead against Benfica to remain without a point and slip six behind their Portuguese counterparts in the standings. Things then got worse before getting any better back in Serie A, when Max Allegri’s men were humbled by rock-bottom Monza in their final fixture before the break. On a run of one win from eight matches.
Juventus hosted Bologna upon their return to action, and a fortnight away seemed to have done the Old Lady a certain amount of good, as Serbian duo Filip Kostic and Dusan Vlahovic struck either side of the interval before Arkadiusz Milik provided a finishing flourish by slamming home the third just after the hour mark. With early signs of a productive partnership between the latter pair raising hopes among Juve’s disgruntled fanbase, Allegri must surely steer his side to successive victories if they are to remain in the race for a spot in the Champions League’s knockout phase.Across a crucial 10-day period, Juve will now tackle Maccabi Haifa twice, either side of a visit to Scudetto holders Milan – and then they contest the Turin derby.
In their only previous encounter with Italy’s most decorated club, Maccabi Haifa lost 1-0 both home and away to Juventus in the 2009-10 group stage, with the Bianconeri’s now-departed defender Giorgio Chiellini getting the goal in Turin.
Predicted Starting XI: Szczesny; Danilo, Bremer, Bonucci, De Sciglio; Cuadrado, Locatelli, Paredes, Kostic; Di Maria, Vlahovic.