Injury-hit Juve target ‘perfect’ Munich display
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri says the injury-hit Italians will need a ‘perfect’ display to knock hosts Bayern Munich out of the Champions League in Wednesday’s last 16, second-leg clash.
Having fought back from two goals down for a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Turin three weeks ago, Juventus arrived in Munich with some hope for the return at the Allianz Arena.
“We need a perfect performance to get past this team and reach the next round,” said the 48-year-old as Juve chase their first Champions League win in Munich since 2004.
“Next to Barcelona and Real Madrid, they are one of the favourites for the Champions League title.
“We’ll have to play an excellent game and defend well in the first instance.
“We need to be clever and open-minded. Bayern’s attack is one of the best in the world.”
Allegri suffered a setback on Monday as key players Claudio Marchisio and Paulo Dybala were ruled out with calf injuries.
But even with defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Martin Caceres also missing, Allegri says whoever plays will do the job.
“Of course, it’s a shame that Chiellini, Marchisio and Dybala are missing, but whoever steps out on the pitch will put in an outstanding performance,” said Allegri.
With striker Dybala out, Allegri is hoping ex-Bayern forward Mario Mandzukic shakes off a leg knock to face his former employers.
“He hasn’t been with the team for the last two days and we have to wait,” said Allegri.
“I’ll make a decision tomorrow, but he is an exceptional and important player.”
Bayern are bidding to reach the quarter-finals for the fifth season in a row against last season’s Champions League finalists.
Legendary Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon says the Bavarians have proven they are the stronger of the two, “but we’ll see tomorrow evening which is the best team”.
“In the first leg, they were better than us for an hour, then things changed,” added the 38-year-old.
“With a lot of motivation, we were able to turn an almost desperate situation around.
“From that point, we have a start (for the return leg).
“We are a strong and formidable opponent and I’m convinced we’ll pose Bayern some difficulties.”
Buffon has not conceded for 10 league games — a run that has left him just four minutes shy of overcoming Sebastian Rossi’s decades-old unbeaten record of 929 minutes in Serie A.
The experienced veteran is relishing the prospect of such a high-profile clash.
He will be up against Bayern hot-shots Robert Lewandowski (34) and Thomas Mueller (27) who have scored 61 goals between them this season in all competition.
“This could be a semi-final or a final. We want to win, but if we play well and meet them face-to-face and still lose, then we’ll have to accept that,” he said.