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Fallen Euro giants Juve look to Tevez


Striker Carlos Tevez. Picture credit: AP Photo/Alessandro Falzone

Striker Carlos Tevez. Picture credit: AP Photo/Alessandro Falzone

Striker Carlos Tevez. Picture credit: AP Photo/Alessandro Falzone

WHEN Juventus visit Benfica in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final tonight, it will mark the first appearance for the once dominant Turin club in the final four of a European competition since finishing runner-up in the 2003 Champions League.

After the 2006 Italian match-fixing scandal and the subsequent relegation to Serie B, it's been a long road back to continental prominence for Juventus, who are also striding toward their third successive Serie A title.

While Juve hold an eight-point lead in Serie A with four matches to play, they face a Benfica squad that clinched the Portuguese title last weekend.

If Juventus are to progress, they will look to forward Carlos Tevez, whose goalscoring drought in Europe has passed the five-year mark.

The Argentine's last European goal was way back on April 7, 2009 for Manchester United, when he came off the bench and scored against Porto in a Champions League quarter-final.

Tevez is among the Serie A leading scorers, with 18 goals this season, but has been bothered by an inflamed thigh muscle lately and has not played a full 90 minutes this month.

Still, he is expected to team up with Fernando Llorente in attack tonight.

Benfica claimed the Portuguese title with two rounds left to play, helping to banish some of last season's demons. The Lisbon club fell at the final hurdles in three competitions last term, including the domestic title race, and ended up with no silverware.

They conceded late goals in the Europa League final, when losing 2-1 to Chelsea, and in the Portuguese Cup against Guimaraes.

Now, apart from reaching the Europa League semi-finals, Benfica are also in the final of the Portuguese Cup and the semi-finals of the Portuguese League Cup.

In the other Europa League semi-final, Sevilla coach Unai Emery will face his former side Valencia in an all-Spanish match-up.