Italian champions Juventus will be looking to make it back-to-back wins over Lokomotiv Moscow when they travel to Russia in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
Maurizio Sarri’s side recorded a 2-1 victory in the reverse match to move onto seven points in Group D, leaving Lokomotiv with just three points to show from their three games in the section.
Lokomotiv are certainly not out of it when it comes to challenging for a top-two spot, but it would probably be fair to say that the Russian outfit will need to beat Juve on Wednesday night to stand a chance of qualifying.
The Moscow giants are third in Group D with three points, four points off second-placed Atletico Madrid and leaders Juve, who both have seven points to show from their two matches in the section.
Lokomotiv started their campaign with an impressive 2-1 win away to Bayer Leverkusen but have lost their last two at home to Atletico and away to Juve. It was always going to be tough to book their spot in the Round of 16, although securing third – and a spot in the Europa League – would be considered a success.
Yuri Semin’s side will enter the match off the back of a 1-1 draw with FC Ufa in the league on Saturday, which has left them third in the Russian Premier League, just three points off leaders Zenit St Petersburg.
Lokomotiv have actually only won five of their last 14 European fixtures in Moscow, while they have lost three of their four games with Italian opposition on home soil, which is not a record that will fill the supporters with too much confidence heading into Wednesday’s key clash.
As mentioned, Juve top Group D heading into the next set of fixtures with seven points to show from their three matches. The Old Lady opened with a 2-2 draw away to Atletico before recording wins over Leverkusen and Lokomotiv in their next two to lead the section at the halfway point.
It was far from plain sailing at home to Lokomotiv last time out as they actually trailed for a long period. Paulo Dybala came up with a leveler in the 77th minute, however, before the Argentine struck a winner two minutes later to secure three important points.
This is the 20th year that Juve have been present in the group stages of the Champions League, and the Serie A giants have reached the round of 16 or better in 16 of the previous 19. Last season, Juve made it to the quarter-finals, where they were surprisingly knocked out by Dutch giants Ajax.
Incredibly, Juve have actually lost each of their last five European Cup finals, while they have not lifted the trophy since 1996. While holding off the threat of Inter Milan to land another Serie A title would be considered a success, this is the competition that the club really want to win this season.
Sarri’s side will enter this match off the back of a 1-0 win over Torino in Serie A at the weekend, which saw them return to the summit ahead of Inter, who have been excellent under Antonio Conte this season.