Juventus round off a doomed Champions League campaign when they tackle Group H leaders Paris Saint-Germain at the Allianz Stadium tonight.
The final whistle cannot come quickly enough in Europe for Massimiliano Allegri’s eliminated side, while the visitors are still vying for top spot with Benfica.
The improbable almost occurred when Juventus tackled Benfica needing to claim all three points to keep their Champions League knockout dreams alive, and their bags were being packed when the Portuguese giants roared into a 4-1 lead at the Estadio da Luz.
Two quickfire strikes from Weston McKennie and Arkadiusz Milik just before the 80-minute mark would set up a nail-biting finale, but the Old Lady could not muster up the strength to bag the two further goals they so desperately craved, as their run in Europe’s top tier came to an end.
Not since the 2013-14 season had Juventus failed to make it out of the group stage in the Champions League, but the under-fire Allegri still retains the faith of the powers-that-be as his third-placed side seek to hold off the threat of Maccabi Haifa to qualify for the Europa League.
A three-game winning run with three cleans sheets in Serie A has at least helped to quell some of the murmurs of discontent, with NicoloFagioli coming up with the winning goal in a 1-0 triumph at Leece at the weekend, and the Turin headquarters have been kind to Juventus in recent weeks.
Indeed, Allegri’s side welcome PSG to their base having won each of their last three home matches – scoring at least twice in five of their last six games on familiar turf to boot – but they could also become just the second Italian team to lose five group games in a single Champions League campaign, following in the footsteps of 2004-05 Roma.
PSG’s defensive coaches have had their work cut out for them in recent weeks, but thankfully for Christophe Galtier, his celebrated attacking triumvirate have ignored the outside noise surrounding all of their off-field endeavours to continue their remarkable run in front of goal.
Lionel Messi’s contract, KylianMbappe’s future and Neymar’s recent legal troubles have all been new episodes in the ongoing PSG soap opera, but the trio were on song in last week’s 7-2 thumping of Maccabi Haifa, which confirmed Les Parisiens’ place in the knockout rounds.
All three also had to bail PSG out of trouble at the weekend, as they were given quite the scare by Troyes but eventually nicked a 4-3 success at the Parc des Princes – their fourth win on the bounce in all competitions and one which keeps them out of sight at the top of Ligue 1.
PSG and Benfica have been level pegging throughout the group stage, but Galtier’s men simply need to match or better their adversaries’ result on matchday six to qualify as group winners, and their unbeaten run in all competitions now stands at 28 matches.
The French champions have also won each of their last four final group-stage games in the Champions League games – scoring at least four goals each time – and ran out 2-1 winners over Juve earlier this term, but they have never triumphed against the Old Lady away in Europe. – SportsMole