Intriguing clash of styles

MADRID — Sevilla’s wild-eyed, excitable Jorge Sampaoli (pic) faces Juventus’ phlegmatic Massimiliano Allegri in the Champions League at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan tomorrow.

Both sides are unbeaten in Group H and are set to qualify though Sevilla, on 10 points from four games, need a draw and visitors Juventus, on eight, a win to guarantee a last-16 place.

Should Sevilla go through to the knockout stage, it will mean they won’t be able to defend the Europa League title they have won for the last three seasons.

Sampaoli has already brought a breath of fresh air to La Liga, where his side have climbed into third place and beat Atletico Madrid along the way.

Saturday’s 3-2 win at Deportivo La Coruna, where they scored twice in the last five minutes, was fairly typical of their style which is not for the faint-hearted.

The shaven-headed Argentine, noted for his exuberant celebrations, turned Chile into one of the most entertaining teams at the World Cup two years ago and made history last year when he led them to their first Copa America title.

Sampaoli likes his team to play with fast and furious, sweeping forward in relentless waves with seven or eight players joining the attack.

Defending has sometimes been an afterthought, although he has given Sevilla some added steel at the back and they have yet to concede a goal in the group.

Juventus’ Allegri also likes his team to dominate possession but he is averse to risk-taking and often talks of the importance of “administering the match”.

He admonished his side after this month’s 1-1 draw at home to Lyon for chasing the game in the last few minutes and leaving themselves dangerously exposed.

“We could have thrown our qualification down the drain,“ he said.

Unlike Sampaoli, Allegri is established in European football having won a Serie A title with AC Milan and two at Juventus, who he led to the Champions League final two seasons ago.

Sampaoli could claim to be the moral victor after a 0-0 draw in Turin in the teams’ opening group meeting in September. This time, the onus will be on Spaniards.

Juventus meet Dinamo Zagreb, who are without a point, in their final group game and can bank on getting the win they will still need if they lose tomorrow.

Sevilla face a much tougher final game at Lyon.

“I believe the match is more important for Sevilla than for ourselves,“ said Allegri. “If we don’t beat Dinamo at home in our final group game, then we don’t deserve to be in the Champions League.“ — Reuters

Spurs turn to Kane for survival

LONDON — Tottenham hope striker Harry Kane’s return to fitness and immediate scoring form will help keep their Champions League Group E hopes alive when they face Monaco away tomorrow.

Spurs have lost both of their home games — to leaders Monaco and second-placed Bayer Leverkusen.

Leverkusen sit two points above them after winning 1-0 at Wembley and Spurs badly need to make up ground.

They got a boost in the Premier League at home to local rivals West Ham on Saturday, turning a 2-1 deficit into an unlikely 3-2 victory when Kane, only recently returned from injury, scored twice in the last few minutes.

“It’s a must-win game (in Monaco) and this gives us a big high to go out there and win,” Kane told BT Sport after his dramatic double at White Hart Lane.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said: “The last month has been tough and it’s fantastic to discover that (winning) feeling again.

“It’s for that reason we need to have the mentality and feeling that we can go to Monaco and win.“

Spurs remain the only unbeaten side in the Premier League, although six draws in their 12 games means they are only fifth in the table, four points behind Chelsea.

Monaco are second in Ligue 1, three points off the pace, after a comfortable 3-0 victory at Lorient over the weekend.

Colombia striker Radamel Falcao continued his fine run with another goal for the principality side and, after hapless spells with Manchester United and Chelsea, would love to remind doubting English fans of his quality.

He scored twice in the last Champions League fixture, an easy 3-0 win against CSKA Moscow, which followed two draws and a 2-1 win in their opening game at Spurs.

Bernardo Silva and Lemar scored in the first half-an-hour against Spurs while Pochettino’s men were still adjusting to Wembley, where they are playing Champions League games as they start construction of a new stadium at White Hart Lane.

Monaco need only a repeat of last season’s draw at home to Spurs in the Europa League to qualify for the knockout stage with a game to spare. — Reuters

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