It’s safe to say the season hasn’t exactly gone swimmingly for Juventus and Massimiliano Allegri so far, with a combination of stop-start form and a 15-point deduction in Serie A — owing to financial violations — contributing towards a stuffy and somewhat tense atmosphere in Turin.
The result of that inauspicious start to the campaign ultimately saw them exit the Champions League with a whimper, while they remain on the fringes of the European places in Italy’s top flight. The season can yet be salvaged, though, with the Europa League offering a perfect backdoor entrance to the Champions League, which they will desperately need if they fail to pull off the unthinkable and sneak a top-four Serie A finish.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume then that Allegri is pinning all of his hopes on this competition. However, any potential triumph won’t be a cakewalk, as last week’s meeting bore testament to. Antoine Kombouare’s men secured a 1-1 draw in Turin for the first leg of their play-off tie, which will give them plenty of confidence heading into this showdown in their own backyard.
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Nantes vs Juventus match stats
Ludovic Blas has played like a man possessed in the Europa League this term. The 25-year-old netted the equaliser last week against Juve, and currently leads Nantes for goals (three), assists (three), shots (22) and chances created (15) in this season’s Europa League. He is their difference-maker in every regard.
Despite their prestige and pedigree in Europe, Juve have struggled on the continental circuit recently. In fact, they have won just one of their last nine matches in Europe, conceding two goals-per-game on average during that run. What’s more, they have lost each of their last three away games in European competitions.
17 Apr 1996 – Nantes 3-2 Juventus – Champions League
03 Apr 1996 – Juventus 2-0 Nantes – Champions League
Prior to last week’s meeting, these two clubs had only met twice before. Their only other tango came in the 1995/96 Champions League semi-final. Marcello Lippi’s side beat 10-man Nantes 2-0 in the first leg, with Gianluca Vialli and Vladimir Jugovic getting the goals to capitalise on Bruno Carotti’s sending off. With numerical parity a fortnight later, Jean-Claude Suaudeau’s side won 3-2 in the return leg, but Juve ultimately progressed on aggregate.
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