Juventus have point to prove
Juventus boss Luigi Del Neri feels it would be wrong to make generalisations about the state of Italian football on the strength of Serie A teams' poor performances in the UEFA Europa League this season.
The Bianconeri head into tomorrow's match against Group A leaders Manchester City with no chance of advancing, as they are three points adrift of second-placed Lech Poznan with an inferior head-to-head record. It is a situation mirrored elsewhere in the tournament with Palermo and Sampdoria also eliminated and only Napoli still alive going into the final round of group games.
Asked about the implications for Italian football, Del Neri said: "Our football is growing up. I look at Juventus and we are out of it, but not put back in our rightful place.
"We have lost, but we made a good impression in Manchester, or in Poland, where we tried to win despite hazardous weather conditions.
"I think my team played a more than respectable Europa League, besides facing many matches in a time of rebuilding."
With nothing to play for and an eye on Sunday's Serie A game at Chievo, Del Neri is expected to field an under-strength line-up. "It's not true we'll play only young players," the Juventus coach insisted on the club's official website
"Obviously, at this moment, the match in Chievo is more important to us, but we'll try to play our part anyway, because we have the strength and the quality to achieve a good result and we'd like to win a match in this round."
Juventus have drawn all five of their matches in the European competition to date. Visiting manager Roberto Mancini, meanwhile, is determined to finish the group stages in style and top the table.
"It is important to win this game because we want to top the group. We prefer not to meet the teams who come from the Champions League," he said.
"It is also important for the players because we have a lot of matches coming up and we will need everyone."
Mancini has named a 19-man squad, a mix of senior and young players, with an important match against Everton in mind on Monday. As well as wantaway striker Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli is among those absent but the City manager said there were only football reasons for his decision.
Asked why Balotelli had not travelled, Mancini said: "We have a game against Everton on Monday and games every three days so he is rested."
For Juve, full-back Zdenek Grygera could return from a knee injury, while Nicola Legrottaglie will definitely feature. Filippo Boniperti, grandson of Juve legend Giampiero Boniperti, is among a group of youngsters who may play - along with Niccolo Giannetti, Vincenzo Camilleri, Marcel Buchel and Manuel Giandonato.