New Galatasaray coach Roberto Mancini set for baptism of fire against Juventus

New Galatasaray coach Roberto Mancini set for baptism of fire against Juventus

TURIN, Italy
New Galatasaray coach Roberto Mancini set for baptism of fire against Juventus

Italian coach Roberto Mancini (C) trains Galatasaray players in his first session after being announced as the new manager of the Turkish champions. Galatasaray will take a crucial test at Juventus in a Champions League Group B game on Oct. 2.

Roberto Mancini will have a tough test in his first match as the new Galatasaray coach when the Turkish titleholder plays visits Juventus in the Champions League on Oct. 2.

The Italian signed a contract with the Istanbul giants late on Sept. 30, and was officially unveiled as Galatasaray's replacement for Fatih Terim, just two days before the key trip to Turin.

"It will be quite strange because I met the team yesterday for the first time," Mancini said during the pre-match press conference. "I don't have a magic wand, but we have a good team so I hope we can have a good game. It will be very difficult because we're meeting a great team, which had another great year."

"If I had wanted a comfortable game I'd have stayed at home on the couch - which is very comfortable. But this is work and that's what's good about football. The fact that the first game is a Champions League match and against Juventus is a great thing," Mancini said, while also revealing that he was a fan of the Vecchia Signora when during his youth.

Continue 'Terim's good work'

Mancini spent almost his entire playing and managerial career in Italy - at Fiorentina, Lazio and Inter Milan - before joining Manchester City in 2009. His managerial debut on the Florentines' bench also came after a period in which Terim was in charge of that club.

He won three consecutive Serie A titles with Inter and hopes his knowledge of Italian football will go some way to offsetting the unfamiliarity with his new players.

"Obviously it's a handicap that I've only been with the squad for one day," the Italian added. "But I think in this case it's a group of players that know each other, that have been playing together for a while, so I'm lucky. And in football luck counts a lot so we'll see what happens. The advantage is that I know Juve well."

Galatasaray suffered a disastrous start to its Champions' League campaign this season, losing 6-1 at home to Real Madrid, but Mancini is hoping to make the team forget about that result. "We need to forget about the match against Real Madrid. We have to think about the future, starting tomorrow," he said.

"My aims are to continue Terim's good work, to continue to win, and to continue to go forward in the Champions League. We have five games, starting from tomorrow's, which will be very difficult, but we'll try to qualify from the group and then we'll see," he added.

Mancini will reportedly receive 12.5 million euros over three seasons from Galatasaray, where he has the tough task of winning over fans still angry about Terim's controversial departure.

Last week, Galatasaray parted ways with Terim, who has won a total six titles with the club, after he refused a contract extension. Galatasaray is still unbeaten in the Turkish league, but after four draws in six matches, the team is left five points behind arch-rival Fenerbahçe.

Galatasaray reached the quarterfinals of last year's competition, where it memorably beat Real Madrid 3-2 in the second leg in Istanbul, but went out 5-3 on aggregate.

Forward problem

Juventus also reached the last eight last season, before a 4-0 aggregate humbling by eventual champions Bayern Munich reminded the Italian giants of the progress they have to make if they are to make the final stages. So far this campaign Juventus have looked a solid outfit, especially in attack where Carlos Tevez has been a crucial addition for the Bianconeri.

But after failing to hit the net on several occasions during a frustrating 1-1 draw away to FC Copenhagen a fortnight ago, a replica of their league performances, Juventus' front line has yet to really get into its stride.

Although third in Serie A only two points adrift of on-form Roma after six games, Juventus have scored 11 goals compared to Roma's 17. Juve's fifth win of the campaign came away to Torino on Sunday when Conte's men needed a controversial winner by French midfielder Paul Pogba to secure all three points.

Tevez, according to television pictures, was in an offside position when Pogba headed home from close range and controversy between the city rivals has raged since. The win stood, however, and with Juve needing a win at this early stage in the Champions League Conte's men are already focused on the visit of the Turkish giants.

"We know it's a crucial match for us," Pogba told the Tuttosport newspaper. "We have to win but we know it won't be easy. I don't know if this game will be decisive for qualification, but after our frustrating draw with FC Copenhagen we all want to win." 

The biggest concern for Conte, however, is whether Tevez will be fit for the visit of Galatasaray. Tevez suffered a nasty studs-up tackle by Ciro Immobile during the derby that was so bad the striker released a picture afterwards of his injury to the media.

Juventus immediately released a statement claiming "there is a big question mark over Tevez's availability for Wednesday's game."

If so, it would deprive Conte of a player who he has only had positive things to say about so far this season and means Spaniard Fernando Llorente, rested for the Torino game, could start alongside Fabio Quagliarella or Mirko Vucinic.

In the group's other game, Real Madrid hosts Copenhagen.

An AP report was used in this story.