Del Neri: Juve have been 'respectable'

Del Neri: Juve have been 'respectable'

Published Dec. 16, 2010 9:19 a.m. ET

Juventus boss Luigi Del Neri feels it would be wrong to judge Italian football on the back of Serie A teams' poor Europa League performances.

The Bianconeri head into Thursday's match against Group A leaders Manchester City already with no chance of qualifying, 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 soccer 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 will field an under-strength line-up.

However, he insisted on the club's website: "It's not true we'll play only young players.

"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."

Juve have drawn all five of their matches to date.

City boss Roberto Mancini is determined to finish the group stages in style and top the table.

He said: "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.

"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-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.

The former Inter Milan striker was racially abused by some Juventus fans last year.

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.