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Real stay on the offensive
- A team in top form doesn’t lose 1-5 at home, claims Juventus coach

Madrid: A Real Madrid side stung by their worst league defeat in over three years will nevertheless stick to their customary high risk strategy when they host Juventus in their Champions League semi-final, first leg on Tuesday.

Real Madrid and Manchester United served up a dizzying quarter final, eventually clinched 6-5 on aggregate by the Spanish side after a magical second leg at Old Trafford.

Real were light years away from that form in a chastening 1-5 defeat at home to Real Mallorca on Saturday.

Even so, the nine-times European Cup winners remain convinced they can clinch a return to Manchester for the final against either Inter Milan or AC Milan on May 28.

A pragmatic Juventus side will provide a different sort of test to gung-ho Manchester United.

Real are determined to stick with their offensive game plan, though, as they prepare to face Juventus for the first time since they beat the Italians 1-0 in the Champions League final in 1998.

“Defeat to Mallorca will not see us going into the Juventus game with any fear,” said Real midfielder Zinedine Zidane, who was on the Juventus side in that 1998 final in Amsterdam.

“We’ll be going out to play the way we always do. That means playing good football.”

Huge firepower

Real will be without Raul, who is recovering from appendix surgery, but even without the Champions League top scorer the firepower at coach Vicente del Bosque’s disposal is immense.

Ronaldo, who scored a hattrick to secure an aggregate victory in the second leg against United, will lead the line again, with Fernando Morientes, Guti and Javier Portillo queuing up to partner him.

Del Bosque will have more worries about the defence.

Real have conceded 15 goals in their last five matches and Fernando Hierro was whistled from the field at the end of the Mallorca game after being caught out time and again by the speedy visiting forwards.

“It’s true, we’ve conceded far too many goals,” del Bosque said. “I can’t be happy about the way we’ve defended, although we just have to put Mallorca down to one bad afternoon.”

Saturday’s freak result left Real a point clear of Deportivo La Coruna and Real Sociedad at the top of the table with six games to play.

Juventus are on the brink of winning their second straight Italian title after a goalless draw at Lazio left them eight points clear of Inter Milan with three games remaining.

Coach Marcello Lippi will have to replace centre-back Paolo Montero and midfielders Edgar Davids and Alessio Tacchinardi, who all picked up suspensions in the side’s gutsy quarter final win over Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

Midfield gaps

Montero’s absence should be covered by Mark Iuliano but the midfield gaps will be harder to fill.

Igor Tudor and Antonio Conte could be used as direct replacements but Lippi might consider picking Alessandro Birindelli or Gianluca Pessotto to keep a close watch on Zidane.

Lippi seemed as surprised as anyone by Real’s defeat by Mallorca but he is not about to leap to any conclusions.

“It’s a funny old world and this can happen before an important game,” Lippi told Italian television TG5 before the squad left for Madrid.

“A team that is in top form doesn’t lose 1-5 at home... but we shouldn’t have any illusions.

“It will be a different game on Tuesday. Whoever thinks they can draw conclusions from recent games is mistaken and that goes for us as well,” he said.

PROBABLE TEAMS

Real Madrid: 1-Iker Casillas; 2-Michel Salgado, 4-Fernando Hierro, 6-Ivan Helguera, 3-Roberto Carlos; 10-Luis Figo, 24-Claude Makelele, 16-Flavio Conceicao, 5-Zinedine Zidane; 14-Guti, 11-Ronaldo

Juventus: 1-Gianluigi Buffon; 21-Lilian Thuram, 2-Ciro Ferrara, 13-Mark Iuliano, 19-Gianluca Zambrotta; 16-Mauro Camoranesi, 5-Igor Tudor, 8-Antonio Conte, 11-Pavel Nedved; 10-Alessandro Del Piero, 17-David Trezeguet

Referee: Terje Hauge (Norway).

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