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Milan (AFP) – Juventus are eyeing an early exit from the Champions League as they prepare to travel to Benfica knowing their fate is no longer in their hands.
A disastrous three-month opening to the season has left Juve far from the pace of Serie A and almost certain of an embarrassing exit from Europe’s premier club competition.
With three points after four games in Group H, Massimiliano Allegri’s team are five behind Tuesday’s opponents and Group H leaders Paris Saint-Germain and must win the last two games to have any chance of making it. to the round of 16.
But even if they managed to win first in Lisbon and then beat PSG in Turin next week, it would still be unlikely that they would qualify as they would be eliminated if the two win the other match with Maccabi Haifa.
Assuming they beat them both – some task given their performances so far and the humiliating defeat to Maccabi in the last match – Juve would need the Israelis to win or draw against PSG or Benfica.
A draw for Maccabi in one of their remaining matches would leave Juve level on nine points with one of the current leading duos and take qualification to the head-to-head record.
However, if Maccabi drew both games and Juve won both, three teams would finish with nine points and the Turin giants would stumble over the lead in head-to-head history.
Juve with problems
Such hypotheses will be far from Allegri’s mind before his team takes the field at Estádio da Luz on Tuesday.
The Italian has been under fire for weeks and a simple 4-0 win over Empoli on Friday did nothing to calm critics weary of what they see as boring football that is no longer getting the results that fans of Juve demand.
Allegri said we “finally look like a team” after putting the Tuscans to the sword, and in fact he’s not the only target of fans’ anger, as president Andrea Agnelli is seen as the architect of the quagmire his team finds itself in. . .
Last month, Juve posted record losses of €254.3m – the fifth year in a row that their accounts are in the red – and hardcore fans put up a banner outside the club’s Allianz Stadium demanding Agnelli’s departure.
Making Juve’s situation even more difficult to deal with is the fact that a club that not so long ago looked on the cusp of becoming a European power travels to Portugal with their hosts as favorites to knock them out.
Benfica are undefeated in all competitions this season and have won their first 13 games in the Portuguese Primeira Liga and in Europe.
And while they drew three of the last five, two of those draws were against PSG and came after credible performances.
Roger Schmidt’s team are six points clear at home after beating Porto on Friday and realistically only need one point on Tuesday to secure passage to the last 16 of the Champions League as they PSG should certainly beat Maccabi at Parc de Princes.
The Europa League looks like the most likely destination and the question for Juve now is what can they salvage from a season that has already turned sideways.
© 2022 AFP