Allegri to assess Pogba as Juventus gear up for Freiburg clash

By Sports Desk March 08, 2023

Paul Pogba's fitness will be assessed ahead of Juventus' Europa League meeting with Freiburg on Thursday, with the midfielder still eyeing his first start since his Bianconeri return.

Pogba made his long-awaited second Juve debut in a 4-2 win over cross-city rivals Torino last month after enduring several injury setbacks since re-joining from Manchester United last July.

Having appeared from the bench in that fixture, the France international did likewise in Sunday's demoralising 1-0 defeat at Roma in Serie A.

Asked if Pogba could make his first start of the season when Juventus host Freiburg in the first leg of their last-16 tie, boss Massimiliano Allegri was hopeful but uncertain.

Allegri said: "Yesterday [Tuesday] he did a good workout, today [Wednesday] he was separate from the group. Tomorrow [Thursday] morning we'll understand if he can be available.

"He didn't work with the team [on Wednesday]. I think he will be available, but we'll see."

An Angel Di Maria hat-trick fired Juve past Nantes in the last round of the competition, delivering a 3-0 away win after the Bianconeri toiled to a 1-1 draw at home to the French side.  

With Freiburg one of just three teams to go unbeaten in the Europa League's group stage this term (also Real Betis and Fenerbahce), Allegri is aware of the need for an improved home display.

"We want to lay the foundations for the second leg," he said. "They are physically strong, they are fifth in Germany, they are unbeaten in Europe. 

"We have to go back to winning at home – in the Champions League and in the Europa League we only got one win [at the Allianz Stadium this season].

"So we'll need attention, otherwise we'll have to do the same as against Nantes. We have to win on Thursday, whether it's by one or two goals – it won't be easy, it will be balanced."

Juventus will be able to draw on the experience of Filip Kostic, a Europa League winner with Eintracht Frankfurt last season, and the Serbian says lifting Europe's secondary club trophy is now the team's foremost aim.

"I know the competition, I won it with Eintracht – it was our dream to win the Europa League. With Juventus it's different, the goals were different, but now we want to win it," Kostic said.

"They are a tough, compact, solid opponent. To win this Europa League – which is our main objective – we will have to overcome them. We want to get as far as possible and we go game by game."

Related items

  • Euro 2024 absence caps cruel period for Netherlands midfielder De Roon Euro 2024 absence caps cruel period for Netherlands midfielder De Roon

    Netherlands will be without Marten de Roon at Euro 2024 after an injury blow capped a cruel period for the Atalanta midfielder.

    De Roon suffered a muscle injury two weeks ago in Atalanta's 2-0 Coppa Italia final loss to Juventus, subsequently missing Gian Piero Gasperini's side lifting the Europa League with victory over Bayer Leverkusen.

    The Netherlands international was in the stands in Dublin for the 3-0 win over Xabi Alonso's Bundesliga champions that secured Atalanta's first European trophy in history.

    Having already been named in Ronald Koeman's 30-man provisional squad for the Euros in Germany, starting in June, De Roon suffered another gut-wrenching punch after his absence was confirmed.

    "I can't imagine I've had a week in my career, or in my life, that has had so many ups and downs," the Atalanta man wrote on social media on Monday.

    "Lost the Coppa Italia, couldn't play the final, win the Europa League.

    "In that last euphoric state, I spent a lot of time with the medical staff: it turns out I can't play the Euros.

    "I will get over it, I will watch the squad and my friends as a fan, but for now it's a very tough day."

    De Roon has won 42 caps for his country and featured at the last European Championships and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

    His absence means Koeman has to cut just six players down from his provisional squad for the final 23-man selection, which will be announced on Wednesday.

    Netherlands open their Euro 2024 campaign against Poland on June 16 before facing France and Austria in the group stages.

    Koeman's squad assembled on Monday for their pre-tournament training camp, ahead of warm-up matches with Canada and Iceland.

  • Bochum avoid Bundesliga relegation after play-off penalty drama downs Dusseldorf Bochum avoid Bundesliga relegation after play-off penalty drama downs Dusseldorf

    Bochum will be playing in the Bundesliga once again next campaign after staving off relegation with a penalty shoot-out victory over Fortuna Dusseldorf in the play-offs.

    Heiko Butscher's side finished 16th in the German top-flight table in the 2023-24 season, though got the better of their 2.Bundesliga opponents to secure another season in the competition.

    Needing to overturn a three-goal deficit from the first-leg play-off defeat, Philipp Hofmann stole the show with a goal in either half before Kevin Stoger's 70th-minute penalty sent the tie to extra time.

    The pair could not be separated across an additional 30 minutes at Dusseldorf Arena, ensuring spot-kicks were required to decide the fate of the two Bundesliga hopefuls.

    Andre Hoffmann missed Dusseldorf's first but Erhan Masovic also faltered, leaving a winner-takes-all scenario in a sudden-death shoot-out with the score at 4-4.

    Maximilian Wittek then converted before Takashi Uchino fired wide, sealing a 6-5 penalty shoot-out victory for Bochum after a 3-0 win on Monday snatched a 3-3 aggregate draw.

    Dusseldorf finished third in Germany's second division this season and will be forced for, at least, another campaign in 2. Bundesliga after this play-off heartbreak.

    This was the first time a play-off has gone to penalties since the Bundesliga reintroduced the fixture, with Bochum ultimately prevailing to keep their top-flight status intact.

  • Mitrovic clinches last-gasp success for Saudi Pro League champions Al-Hilal Mitrovic clinches last-gasp success for Saudi Pro League champions Al-Hilal

    Aleksandar Mitrovic produced a last-gasp winner for Al-Hilal as the Saudi Pro League champions signed off with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Al-Wedha on Monday.

    Jorge Jesus' side finished the league campaign unbeaten across the 34-game season, though needed late heroics from top scorer Mitrovic to snatch all three points.

    Mohamed Kanno opened the scoring for the visiting champions in the first half but Yahya Naji's second-half leveller pegged Al-Hilal back at King Abdulaziz Sports City Stadium.

    Yet Mitrovic provided the decisive moment in the 92nd minute, converting a Mohammed Al Burayk assist for his 28th league goal of the season.

    The Serbia international ranks only behind Cristiano Ronaldo in this campaign's scoring charts, after the Al-Nassr forward claimed a piece of Saudi League history in a 4-2 victory over Al-Ittihad.

    Ronaldo moved past Abderrazak Hamdallah's 34-goal tally – in the 2018-19 season – after his deadly double took him to 35 strikes and broke the single-season scoring record in the competition.

    Victory for Al-Nassr means they finish second behind the impressive Al-Hilal, while Al-Ahli had already secured third in the standings before their 1-0 victory over Al-Fayha.

    Roberto Firmino scored the only goal of the game in that narrow triumph, finding the net after 85 minutes at Prince Abdullah al-Faisal Stadium.

    At the other end of the table, Abha Club – who had Marcel Tisserand sent off late on – suffered heartbreak on the final day after losing 2-1 to bottom-placed Al-Hazem to seal their relegation.

    Ahmed Abdu opened the scoring to boost Abha's survival hopes but second-half goals from Muhammed Badamosi and Mohammed Al Thani proved their undoing.

    Al-Akhoud beat the drop after overcoming Al-Tai, who went down with Abha and Al-Hazem, 2-0 thanks to goals from Saviour Godwin and Leandre Tawamba at Prince Abdul Aziz bin Musa'ed Stadium.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.