| 10.6°C Dublin

Pogba in line for start as Juve head to Munich with 'spring in step'

Paul Pogba's progress at Juventus since his controversial arrival from Manchester United last summer is set to be rewarded with a place in Antonio Conte's starting line-up for tonight's Champions League quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich.

The 20-year-old, who angered Alex Ferguson by rejecting a new contract at Old Trafford to secure a lucrative move to the Italian champions, has overcome a turbulent start in Turin to emerge as an increasingly influential performer for Juventus, with five goals in 30 appearances to date.

Having been dropped by Conte for the trip to Pescara in November after twice reporting late for training, Pogba has established himself in the team since the turn of the year and the Juventus coach is now understood to be planning to name the French youngster alongside Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal in midfield against Bayern.

Despite reports in Italy that Pogba, sent off while playing for France against Spain last month, was subjected to monkey chants after being introduced as a substitute during last Saturday's victory against Inter Milan at the San Siro, the player has insisted he is happy and determined to stay at Juventus, despite recent links to Manchester City.


With Juventus facing Bayern following the German club's 9-2 victory against Hamburg last Saturday, Conte sees Pogba's energy and defensive capabilities as key alongside Vidal and Pirlo.

"We'll head to Munich with a spring in our step knowing we've done our job on the domestic front," Conte said. "We'll head there to keep our dream alive and we'll do it with a smile and no fear. We just want to see how far behind Europe's best we are."

Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes claims that Italy midfielder Pirlo poses the key threat in a Juventus team that he admits have become an obsession for him since the quarter-final draw.

"I went to bed with the 'Old Lady' (Juventus' nickname) and got up with the 'Old Lady'," Heynckes said. "Juve is a typical Italian team, but they have great attacking qualities and top players.

"Pirlo is a brilliant footballer. I see Vidal as also being very strong, but the whole team is strong.

"Pirlo is the architect, the brain of the team, but Juventus is not only Pirlo. He is a very important player, though. This game will be insanely intense and I expect a frenzied pace."

English referee Mark Clattenburg will take charge of the match.

Bayern Munich v Juventus

Live, Setanta Irl & Sky Sports 2, 7.45

Irish Independent