Ranieri to unleash attacking riches

Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri has a dream problem to ponder ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League Group H clash against Zenit St Petersburg in Turin: which potent strike pair to field.

Veterans Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet finished as Serie A's top two goalscorers last season, but Ranieri preferred a combination of Brazilian-born Amauri, a summer signing from Palermo, and Italy forward Vincenzo Iaquinta for Sunday's 1-0 home success over Udinese.

Iaquinta lost his place in the starting line-up and the national team squad to Del Piero last season, but has come back with a bang in this campaign and seems to be in the forethoughts of both club and international coaches, Ranieri and Marcelo Lippi.

With four top-class strikers to choose from, Ranieri is a contented man, but his preference seems to be leaning towards Amauri and Iaquinta. "I was very pleased with the pair in attack, they worked very hard," he said before singling out Amauri for praise. "I was telling them (the players) that we brought Amauri in because he can play with all our strikers. (On Sunday) he proved himself, as did the whole team."

Amauri was the match-winner against the northerners from Udine, but Ranieri had words of encouragement for those who were confined to the bench last time out. "Those who started on the bench know that I took that decision because we have many objectives. I have two great pairs of attackers, and it gives me a great opportunity to switch things around."

Lost time
Juventus are back in the Champions League following a two year absence due to their involvement in a match-fixing scandal that saw them demoted to Serie B. They are keen to make up for lost time, but have been drawn in one of the hardest groups with Real Madrid and UEFA Cup holders Zenit St. Petersburg, alongside minnows BATE Borisov, the first Champions League representatives from Belarus.

Zenit's Dutch coach Dick Advocaat admits that the Spanish and Italians are the favourites in Group H, but Zenit have already proved they can compete at the highest level. They beat Champions League holders Manchester United 2-1 in the European Super Cup, and have been in good form on their travels recently, winning their last two away league matches by three goals.

"I think what we showed last season, coming so far and even winning the UEFA Cup, was an incredible achievement, but I think we still must be considered an outsider for the tournament," Advocaat told UEFA.com. "Even in our group, Real Madrid and Juventus will be seen as the teams to beat while we and BATE will be viewed by everyone as fighting for third or fourth place.

"Our group is tough but, in principle, this is the Champions League and if you want to do well you have to expect to face and beat teams like Manchester United and Juventus. So for me it's not a problem, it's a challenge. Regarding Juventus, we've needed to update our information because they've not been in Europe for a couple of seasons.

If they have their day, which we mustn't allow, then Juventus can beat anyone
Zenit St. Petersburg coach Dick Advocaat on his Group H rivals Juventus

"The newer players are the ones our scouts have been analysing because Pavel Nedved, Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet are well known to us. . But I have faith that Zenit can damage some teams."

Just how competitive Zenit can be on the this stage will be clearer following 90 minutes at the Olympic Stadium in Turin on Wednesday night.