In the draw done at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon earlier today, Juventus have been drawn against French side Nantes in the Europa League playoffs. Nantes, who are currently sitting in 16th in Ligue 1, finished second behind Freiburg in Group G but ahead of Qarabag and Olympiacos. Juve were knocked out of the Champions League after sustaining five losses in six games, including defeats against Group H winners Benfica and another French team PSG.
The eight teams that finished third in their Champions League groups went into a playoff as unseeded teams, and were drawn against the eight teams that finished second in their Europa League groups who were seeded and will play at home in the second leg of the playoff tie.
The first leg of the fixtures will be played next year on February 16th, with the return leg for Juventus in the west of France a week later.
Juve have only played against Nantes twice before, in a two-legged semi-final during the 1995-96 Champions League campaign, which ended very well for the Bianconeri as they went on to lift the trophy after that. They had beaten Nantes 2-0 at home at the Stadio Delle Alpi with goals from Gianluca Vialli and Vladimiri Jugovic after the visitors had gone a man down in the first half. Juve would then lose away 3-2 with further goals from Vialli and Paulo Sousa, but won 4-3 on aggregate to go on to face Ajax Amsterdam in the final that they would win on penalties.
There will be another tasty clash in the playoff as well with Barcelona being drawn against Manchester United, here is the full draw.
- Barcelona - Manchester United
- Juventus - Nantes
- Sporting CP - Midtjylland
- Shakhtar Donetsk - Rennes
- Ajax - Union Berlin
- Bayer Leverkusen - Monaco
- Sevilla - PSV
- Salzburg - Roma
Speaking after the draw, Juve vice-president Pavel Nedved had this to say -
“We have time to prepare well for these two matches. Nantes’ poor position in the table in France does not count for much because the play-off will be played in February - and it won’t be easy. Thinking about us, we have performed well in the last few league games, not conceding any goals and showing great unity. Clearly we are not at full strength yet because there are still many players out due to injuries, but those who have played have done well. The stop for the World Cup will allow us to recover several injured players, who’ll be ready at the beginning of January.
“Looking on the positive side, the injuries have allowed us to see many young players play continuously. It was very important for us to include them in the First Team, demonstrating the fact that Juventus has always invested a lot in the youth sector and the lads who are showing their worth are the result of a great deal of hard work. The road has been set out and we must continue on our path. We will be ready for these playoffs.”