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Juventus, Parma promise to bring stars to Shanghai
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Top Italian Serie A club, Juventus and its international stars such as David Trezeguet, Alessandro Del Piero and Pavel Nedved, will play Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua in a friendly in Shanghai, the organizers said.

This will be the first chance for Italian Serie A fans on the Chinese mainland to get a live look at Juventus, the 27-time Serie A champion.

The long-awaited match, part of Juventus' Asia-Pacific tour in which it will also play South China FC in Hong Kong on May 22 and Melbourne Victory on May 30, will be held at the 80,000-capacity Shanghai Stadium.

In addition to Shanghai Shenhua, the East Asian Champions Cup winner, Juventus will play two-time UEFA Cup winner Parma FC in the FIAT Cup tournament 2008, with the three teams each playing two matches on May 24.

Each match will last only 45 minutes with two 12-minute breaks at the end of each game.

Kicking off at 8:15 pm, Shanghai Shenhua first plays Parma FC, followed by Shenhua-Juventus and then Parma-Juventus.

Both Juventus and Parma FC have committed to bringing their first-team squad.

Juventus manager Claudio Ranieri said the team is already looking forward to its visit to China, as well as the rare opportunity to meet its legions of Chinese fans. The Turin-based club has an estimated 80 million fans in China.

"I know the Chinese soccer players are very fast and there is always some good players in China, it will be an experience tour for us, " he said in a pre-recorded video clip shown to the media on Saturday.

Parma head coach Hector Cuper said he hopes the tournament will help raise Parma's profile in Shanghai for its newly launched representative office and football school here, which is led by former world champion Beppe Dossena.

Shenhua's coach Wu Jinggui said the tournament is like a dream come true.

"We will be playing with two of the top European teams. My players are really excited at the prospect of playing against Juventus and Parma," he said.

"Juventus has international pedigree, winning more trophies than any other club team, and is undoubtedly one of the best and most exciting football teams in the world."

To better promote a soccer exchange between China and Italy, one promising young player from Shenhua will also be invited by Claudio Ranieri to attend a month-long training with Juventus' second team.

Founded in 1897, Juventus is one of the oldest and most renowned clubs in Italy, together with AC Milan and Inter Milan.

(China Daily May 13, 2008)

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