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Stuart Dalgleish 10th Mar 2010 - 21:43

Fulham won’t just fold in Turin

Roy Hodgson won't have been overly happy to see his team drawn out to play the UEFA Cup holders followed by European giants Juventus, but they've seen off the Ukrainians so should be confident for their Italian job.

If truth be told the Cottagers were somewhat fortunate to qualify for this last 16 game after getting largely outplayed in Donetsk, but credit to the Londoners they were organised and hard to break down so should hope to set up in a similar fashion in Turin.

They will take heart from Juventus' recent indifferent form too, especially at the Stadio Olimpico where they have won just two of their last nine games in all competitions. They are on a decent enough run if we're looking at their last six matches, where they've won four, but in the bigger picture it's been a poor season for the Old Lady, one which is well below the standards they normally set.

It all seemed rosy in the summer when Ciro Ferrara was appointed manager, but the Juve legend wasn't up to it tactically and after a nightmare run of form in December and January the former centre-back was sacked with Alberto Zaccheroni taking over.

It didn't help that their playmaker Diego (6/1 first goal) was injured and also struggling for form for periods in the season, add to this other key members of the squad missing games and Ferrara was always going to struggle.

Juve have got some of their players back for this last 16 first leg match but will be without the services of Giorgio Chiellini, Felipe Melo and World Cup winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, former Arsenal stopper Alex Manninger has played in Buffon's absence.

Mauro Camoranesi (11/1 first goal) has recovered from his muscle problem and is in the squad, Claudio Marchisio (10/1) and Mohamed Sissoko (20/1) might both start despite neither player being at 100%.

Fulham too have some concerns, with captain Danny Murphy banned after getting sent-off in the previous round while Nicky Shorey and Stefano Okaka are both cup-tied, Paul Konchesky (33/1 first goal) could play at left-back but he must shake off his ankle injury first.

Andy Johnson, John Pantsil and Clint Dempsey are all still absent.

The Cottagers are still on a good run of form though, despite some of their absentees and have now gone nine matches without defeat, however they have drawn the last three.

They would've won last time out if it weren't for Heurelho Gomes having a great game for Tottenham in the teams' FA Cup quarter-final match, the Brazilian made many fine stops as Fulham chased their first Wembley appearance for over 30 years.

That draw means they face a replay at White Hart Lane, the last match of an incredibly tough run of fixtures; after their trip to Italy on Thursday, Fulham then head to Old Trafford in hope of achieving a league double over Manchester United, play the second leg of this Europa League match the next Thursday, host Manchester City in the league, then it's that replay against Spurs.

If Hodgson's side can keep it respectable in Turin it will give them great heart for this tough sequence of games.

It's the first ever time that Juventus have played Fulham but the hosts are clear favourites in the betting at 1/2, the Londoners would be delighted with a draw and that's a 3/1 chance, while a famous Fulham win is quoted at 11/2.

Fulham have scored seven times in previous matches against Italian opposition, but none of them by British players; the visitors have quite a few Brits in their squad though and the likes of Bobby Zamora (9/1 first goal), Damien Duff (14/1), Simon Davies (20/1) and Jonathan Greening (25/1) will hope to put their name down in the history books with a goal on Thursday night.

It promises to be a great occasion for the travelling fans, and it could be a great occasion for you if you win from taking advantage of one of our many In-Play betting opportunities.



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