Champions League: 'We are not sacrificial lambs', Juventus say

Juventus meet Barcelona today as the underdog, but defender Leonardo Bonucci says they will not be “sacrifical lambs” and will put up a fight.

In the first leg in Turin in particular, Massimiliano Allegri’s team unsettled Real with their direct and energetic counter-attacking play.

Carlos Tevez, who won and scored a penalty, appeared young again while Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio provided a midfield platform that will be fundamental if Juventus are to see enough of the ball in key areas.

“We will expect to have the ball and control possession and they will counter-attack,” added Pique. “They have a lot of power up front and some good midfielders who are strong and go box to box.

“They are an Italian team but they always want to play with the ball. They showed that against Madrid and will try and do the same to us.”

Sitting alongside Pique at last night’s Barcelona press conference was the Brazilian, Neymar. His may not have been as skillful with words as he is with a ball, but he did cast the trophy a covetous glance as he walked into the room.

“This is the most important match of my life,” he said. “It has been a dream since I was a child to win this cup. Leo (Messi) and Luis (Suarez) are two extraordinary players and I am just lucky to play with them and learn from them.”

Sacrificial lambs

Juventus know they are the underdog, but they are not happy to play the victim.

“We know we are one step below Barcelona but this is only one game so the difference is reduced,” said defender Leonardo Bonucci.

“We are not here to be sacrificial lambs or victims. Juventus have always had a reputation for great players, great champions, many trophies, and that makes us aware of what we have to live up to. This is a club that wins things.”

The first time Juventus won the European Cup, of course, was in 1985. Recently the club, along with Liverpool, marked the 30-year anniversary of a match – and a disaster – at Heysel Stadium that claimed 39 lives.

On Friday coach Allegri and his players struck the appropriate tone. “It is very important,” said Allegri.

“Thirty years ago we saw a tragedy which is going to stay with us and has gone down in the history of football. So I think for Juventus, for Italian fans and for world football, this year is a year to be remembered. Most importantly, we have to think about the families of the victims.”

On the field, Allegri will miss his defensive rock Giorgio Chiellini, absent with a calf injury. That at least saves us from the sideshow of a reunion with his World Cup assailant, Suarez. There is, of course, still the prospect of Suarez’s reunion with Juventus’s former Manchester United left back Patrice Evra to think about.

It is to be hoped that storyline does not break the surface of what could be an absorbing game. The Olympiastadion is a venue worthy of a classic and we could get one.

Credit: Daily Mail

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