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Dybala to return as Juventus aim for top spot

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 399

Pin Juventus forward Paulo Dybala takes part in a training session. AFP
Juventus forward Paulo Dybala takes part in a training session. AFP

Dybala to return as Juventus aim for top spot

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 399

Argentine striker Paulo Dybala is set to make his long-awaited return for Juventus when the Italians host Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday looking to secure top spot in Champions League Group H.

With Gonzalo Higuain only recently returning from a muscle problem and attacking midfielder Mark Pjaca still sidelined, Dybala's absence has piled the pressure on the injury-ravaged champions during a tough month of November. 

But Juve's diminutive playmaker, injured in a 1-0 defeat to AC Milan six weeks ago, is set to make his return in the second half on Wednesday when coach Massimiliano Allegri will sacrifice either Higuain or Mario Mandzukic.

"Mandzukic is doing well and tomorrow (Wednesday) he will start alongside Higuain," Allegri told media in Turin on Tuesday.

"Dybala will play, but he won't make an appearance until the second half. It's important that he returns gradually for us."

Juventus are already qualified for the last 16 of the competition but with Sevilla only a point behind in second before meeting Lyon, Juve are looking for their fourth win of the campaign.

In theory, it would give the Turin giants, who lost the 2015 final to Barcelona in Berlin, a supposedly easier opponent in the draw for the last 16 knockout phase.

Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Manchester City - considered among the favourites for this year's trophy - are all currently in second place in their respective groups.

But Allegri said there was no cunning plan that would help him engineer a second-place finish to avoid meeting one of the trio in the last 16.

"From the start I've been saying we want to finish top of the group, and now you want us to finish second !" Allegri said when told about the group positions of Juve's potential last 16 rivals.

"To go all the way in this competition, you have to play the strongest."

After a 4-0 defeat to the Italians last time out in Zagreb, few will be betting on Dinamo creating an upset in Turin.

And Allegri, who could deploy a makeshift back four in the expected absence of Giorgio Chiellini, who is still recovering from an injury knock, left little doubt as to their intentions.

"Even though Dinamo haven't taken any points, we can't just expect to go out and win tomorrow," he added.

"We have to play well because it's on the pitch that you win games. We want a win to keep hold of top spot and, above all, finish this group campaign on a high."

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