MADRID, (Reuters) – Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba could start today’s Champions League semi-final, second leg at Real Madrid after returning from injury at the weekend, Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri said yesterday.
The 22-year-old France international, who scored for the Italian champions in Saturday’s Serie A 1-1 draw at home to Cagliari after almost two months out with a thigh injury, could be key to Juve’s chances of exerting control in the central areas at the Bernabeu.
Juve hold a 2-1 advantage from last week’s first leg in Turin but face a formidable task to hold out against a Real attack featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and possibly a fit-again Karim Benzema.
“Pogba is in good shape,” Allegri, who is seeking to lead Juve to their first final in Europe’s elite club competition in a decade, told a news conference.
“I think there is a strong chance he will be on the pitch from the start,” added the 47-year-old, in his first season in charge at the two-time European champions.
Juve’s hopes of progressing to the showpiece in Berlin on June 6, which would be their first final since 2003, could also hinge on the performance of Carlos Tevez.
The Argentina forward has netted seven Champions League goals this season, one more than his five previous campaigns combined, and converted the penalty that clinched victory in the first leg after he was upended by Dani Carvajal.
The 31-year-old has also struck 20 Serie A goals in 2014-15, three short of his career-best domestic league haul set in 2009-10 at Manchester City.
“Tevez is playing an extraordinary season,” Allegri told reporters. “He has also become a decisive figure in the Champions League after quite a long barren patch.”
The successful side are likely to play Barcelona in the final after the La Liga leaders thumped 2013 winners Bayern Munich 3-0 in last week’s semi-final, first leg in the Catalan capital. The return is in Munich.