Preview: Juventus Turin in the last sixteen

Finally, the Champions League is back! After weeks, which were filled with annoying topics, now the really big games against Juventus are coming up. As a preview we publish an interview, some statistics and five “bold predictions” for the game. Author: Justin • Translator:

Our guest is Chris (@ Juventini_1897), a passionate Juventus fan who not only informs us about his team, but also about the Italian football in general.

Chris, please introduce yourself. Where are you from and why you are a fan of Juventus? What’s so special about your club?

Hi, my name is Chris and I’m from Malta – a small island south of Italy. I became a fan of Juventus in 2003 and it was mainly because of Nedved and Del Piero. Those two were magic on the field and I really fell in love with the team in what us Juve fans call the perfect game in the Champions league 2nd leg against the Galacticos of Real Madrid. That year I also suffered my first ‘heartbreak’ as I saw the team go on to lose the Champions league final against bitter rivals Milan!

In Germany, the perception and analysis of tactical aspects has received increasing attention in recent years. Italy is (at least in Germany) seen as a football nation that has always been very focused on tactics and is to this day. What is your view on this topic?

Italy is always labelled as the country where great defenders are born and in this current Juve side we have the entire backline of the Italian National team. Being disciplined defensively and well organized is the basis of any great Italian team, be it a club or international level, and it has won Italian teams various titles throughout the years. Remember the 2006 world cup, German fans?

Being strong defensively doesn’t mean Juve play a defensive game, however against strong teams, we like to let the opposition have possession and hit on the attack whenever a mistake is made. Perfect example of this is the two wins we got against Man City in this season’s group games.

Bayern are easily the 2nd best team in the world for me, and for Juve to have a chance, we will need to make sure that we play the game of our lives, reminding ourselves of those great Italian teams.

There was a world cup in 2006? The times of Italian teams dominating Europe has become a thing of the past, with the exception of Juve last season. How do you think about the (financial) level of the Serie A compared to the other big leagues?

Financially, the Italian league is struggling. However, the quality is improving slightly, and thankfully other teams are seeing the importance of having good stadiums to attract fans. In Italy, Juve are easily the wealthiest team, given that we have our own stadium and the good money that is generated from the good champions league runs. Having said that however, we are still miles behind any team in the Premier League and the other top sides in Europe, but we are getting there! Being able to spend 32mill euros + bonuses for Dybala last summer was proof that Juve is on the right track

It was a tough start for your team at the begining of the season. What were the reasons for that special situation and how did you manage to improve?

Last summer Juve lost a lot of players. Tevez, Pirlo, Vidal, Llorente, Coman, Storari etc. These players would not be easy to replace for any team. Nevertheless, Juve opted to replace them with a mix of young and experienced players, Juve signed about 10 players this summer and as we all know new signings need time to adapt. New players like Dybala and Zaza have started learning about what it is like playing for the first time in their careers.

Patience was key in integrating these players to the team, and now that they are fully integrated, they have just broken a club all time record of 15 consecutive wins in the league.

Tell us about Juve’s playing style . What’s Allegri’s philosophy?

We don’t have one particular playing style. Juve can play possesion football when they want, but can also be the defensive team that continuously soaks up pressure and tries to hit on the counter attack with our pacy fullbacks and attackers, which is one of Allegri’s strong points. He can change the team depending on the opposition, with him there is always a plan A and plan B.

How much do you miss Vidal or Coman? Why have they left Juve?

The Vidal we saw at Juve is one of the best midfielders I have seen at Juve in my life. In my opinion, at Juve, he was comfortably the best box to box midfielder in the world. Seeing that he is underperforming by his standards at Bayern, kind of helps me sleep at night knowing we got a decent price for him for a player that in the last year with us had started showing signs of regression. His fight and never give up attitude was sorely missed in the beginning of the season though. Now I’d say we can survive without him thanks to Khedira, Marchisio, Pogba and the ever improving Sturaro.

Coman is a strange one. With Juve he always showed signs of potential, but it was always just that. He only had one goal and a couple of assists to show for in his time at Juve, but nobody can deny that the quality with him was always there for such a young player. To be honest, when the Bayern deal went through for him for close to 30mill euros, I was quite happy. We had signed this guy for free a year before and made a huge profit for someone that had very few minutes. Seeing how good he’s doing at Bayern gives me a sense of ‘what if he stayed with us?’ however his dribbling and fast pace is more suited for Bayerns style of play rather than Juve.

How do you expect your team against us? Which players are your key to success and which players Bayern should fear?

Key players will be Marchisio, Bonucci and you should fear Dybala.

When Marchisio plays good, Juve play good. It’s that simple. He’s the man that makes our midfield tick and organises play, he’s solid defensively and can open up defences with his unbelievable passing range.

When Juve play a 3-5-2, which is the expected line up for the game on Tuesday, Bonucci plays in the central of defence and will face the challenge of doing what most defenders in the world haven’t managed to do, and that is keeping Lewandowski quiet. His passing to start attacks from the back are also a key part of our tactics. As for Dybala, this will be the biggest game of his career to date and he needs to show the form he has shown in the league and start displaying it in the Champions League. This should be a game where he steps up and puts in the performance of his life against a weakened Bayern back line.

Expected line up (depending on fitness): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Khedira, Marchisio, Pogba, Evra; Dybala, Mandzukic

Where are your weaknesses? Where do you expect weaknesses in Bayern’s team?

I can answer this quite easily for both teams. Juve’s and Bayern’s weaknesses are all the injuries we’ve been getting recently. Have to take this moment to wish Badstuber a healthy recovery! Bayern have been hit with a lot of injuries on their defence, however a world class team like Bayern will surely field a stunning XI no matter who plays.

If you could pick one player of our team: Who would you go for and why? Is there something that you like about Bayern?

Philip Lahm. Need I say more? Dream player, especially as someone that loves tactics. Put him anywhere on the pitch and he’ll do a job. Maybe Guardiola should start him in goal instead of Neuer against us? Bayern’s playing style is beautiful. They can outplay anyone except for maybe Barca and I am expecting a very tough game. The pace with which you attack down the wings is always nice to watch as a neutral, but I’m not sure I’ll love it that much when I see it happening as an opponent!

What are your expectations for both games and who will reach the next round?

It’s a tough game between two of the strongest teams in the world. Bayern are still the favourites and on paper they are the favourites to go through, however games are not always won on paper. Just ask Real Madrid fans last year!

On the second page contains an analysis of the interview and a preview to the game: How can Bayern crack Juventus?



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