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Juventus face injury worries before Werder showdown

Written by: Staff

TURIN, Italy, Mar 6 (Reuters) Juventus coach Fabio Capello is sweating on the fitness of strike pair David Trezeguet and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as they prepare for tomorrow's Champions League showdown with Werder Bremen.

A place in the quarter-finals beckons for Capello's men if they have the firepower up front to turn around a dramatic 3-2 first leg loss in the first knockout stage two weeks ago.

Leading 2-1 until the 87th minute after goals from Pavel Nedved and Trezeguet, Juventus conceded an equaliser and then slumped to defeat after Johan Micoud scrambled home Bremen's winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

Despite the helping hand of Juve's away goals, which mean a 1-0 win would see them through, Capello clearly needs Ibrahimovic and Trezeguet to be ready for duty at the Stadio Delle Alpi.

But he told yesteray's La Gazzetta dello Sport: ''I honestly don't know what stage they've reached in their recoveries or whether they will be fit in time for Werder.

''We will need to see them in training before making a decision, because in a match like this the fitness of every single player becomes very important.'' If neither recovers in time, Juve's attack will be led by Alessandro Del Piero and Uruguayan Marcelo Zalayeta, who looked a little rusty as a partnership in a 1-0 win over Sampdoria at the weekend.

The victory maintained Juve's 10-point lead in Serie A, though a 29th 'scudetto' would be scant consolation for Capello should his side exit the Champions League.

Capello has repeatedly said his number one priority this season is leading Juventus to their first European title since 1996.

REPEAT FEAR This tie threatens to turn into a repeat of last season's unexpected quarter-final exit, when they started as clear favourites against Liverpool, only to lose 2-1 away in the first leg before drawing 0-0 in Turin.

For their part, the Germans warmed up with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

''This is a whole new task. This is a completely different story,'' said coach Thomas Schaaf. ''We were not altogether off the mark in Leverkusen, we didn't fail completely.'' Werder failed to take advantage of a 1-0 lead, earned by a third minute penalty, and Leverkusen equalised just before the break. It was the first time this season Werder had failed to win in the Bundesliga before playing in the Champions League.

''We know all too well what we need to deliver,'' said club managing director Klaus Alloffs, who added: ''Juventus are the clear favourites.'' Germany striker Miroslav Klose said: ''We need to play at least as well as we did in the first leg, if not better. But I'm sure we can score at least one goal there.'' Werder are counting on captain Frank Baumann and Brazilian defender Naldo, who both missed Saturday's game with injuries, to return tomorrow.

Reuters PDS DB0928

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