Juventus V Real Madrid
Champions League – Semi-Finals [Tuesday, 5th May – 19:45 GMT] – Juventus Stadium
Juventus have no time to celebrate clinching their fourth successive Scudetto as they welcome Real Madrid to Turin for the Champions League semi-final.
The Bianconeri clinched their 33rd league title at the weekend with a 1-0 victory at Sampdoria but attention has already turned to the Champions League, and the visit of the current title holders.
Speaking ahead of tomorrows game, Juve coach Max Allegri called for a big performance from his team whilst declaring there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ game.
“If we’re talking about a Champions League semi-final, we’re talking about top-notch teams,” Allegri told reporters.
“When you play these games you have to play… I don’t want to say a perfect game, because there’s no such thing, but you have to do great things in attack and defence.
“I don’t think that Juventus-Real Madrid and Real Madrid-Juventus are two games which will end 0-0, so we have to be good, especially in attack.
“They’re European champions, they’re the holders, so it’s true that they might be slight favourites ahead of us.
“That said, it’s not a semi-final where we have nothing to lose. If we lose we won’t make the final.
“We have to remember what we’ve done so far, and make the most of our chances, in the knowledge that we’re facing a great team, with great players.”
Turning his attention to the possible lineup, Allegri dropped a hint that he’ll stick with his 4-3-1-2 formation rather than the tried and tested 3-5-2.
“You’re all calm and good with numbers. Ancelotti has given you four, and I’ll give you another four…
“He’s a Coach whom I respect as a person, but especially for the things he’s achieved, as he’s won in Italy, England, France and Spain.
“As I said, it’s hard to imagine the two games will end 0-0, so we’ll have to be good in attack and defence.”
Allegri will have an almost fully-fit squad to choose from with Paul Pogba and Martin Caceres the only absentees, both through injury.
Gigi Buffon is fit and will start in goal with Stephan Lichtsteiner and Patrice Evra in the full-back roles while Leonardo Bonucci will probably start ahead of Andrea Barzagli to partner Giorgio Chiellini.
Andrea Pirlo should begin in midfield with Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio alongside him and Roberto Pereyra sitting behind a strike-duo of Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata.
4-3-1-2: Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio; Pereyra; Tevez, Morata
Caceres (ankle), Pogba (hamstring)
- Unbeaten in 12 home matches in UEFA competition, Massimiliano Allegri’s men have won four out of five games in Turin in this campaign, including victories over Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco in the knockout rounds.
- Overall, the Bianconeri have lost just one of 17 European home fixtures at the redeveloped Juventus Stadium (W10 D6 L1).
- The Italian champions have appeared in seven European Cup finals, winning twice.
- Chiellini, Lichtsteiner, Morata, Pogba, Roberto Pereyra, Tévez and Vidal are all a booking away from a ban.
- Carlos Tevez has scored as many goals in the Champions League this season (6) as he had in his five previous CL campaigns combined.
Carlo Ancelotti was philosophical ahead of tomorrows semi-final, insisting that anything can happen between Juventus and Real Madrid.
“If Juve are in the semi-finals it’s because they deserve it,” Ancelotti told the media in his pre-match presser.
“It was a surprise, but that doesn’t mean that we’re the favourites. When you get to the semi-finals anything can happen.
“We don’t know who is better, I can honestly say that we are two different teams, with different characteristics and different players.
“Both sides will try to impose their qualities tomorrow, and we want to be the ones to do that.
“If Juve impose their style on us, then I think they have the better chance of winning, the more we impose ourselves then the better our chances will be.
“This is the Champions League, and these are the semi-finals. If you’re brave you win. If you’re afraid you lose.”
Ancelotti confirmed that he has a provisional starting XI while discussing how his side could potentially lineup.
“I have a team in mind, but I’m not telling you!”
“Cristiano [Ronaldo] is fine, I think. He was fine up until Saturday evening, and after that I don’t know. We had a light training session yesterday, he’s fine.
“We’ll replace [injured striker Karim] Benzema with Chicharito [Javier Hernandez] as we’ve always done.
“Bale? I think he’s very good, perfect in fact. He had a slight knock, but we gave him time to recover from this injury, and he’s physically ready.
“He only played 30 minutes against Sevilla, he’s fresh, he’s at 100 per cent.
“Three at the back? We’ve been preparing for this game with four defenders. I’ve used Sergio Ramos as a midfielder, and I may do that again tomorrow.
“The team has confidence at the moment, we’ve got some players out injured, but we’ve replaced them very well.
“We have confidence, we want to reach another final and we’ll do our best.”
I’ll confess to not having watched much of Real Madrid this season, but Carletto seems to be implying he’ll stick with a back 4 against Juve meaning Iker Casillas will start in goal with Raphaël Varane, Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and Marcelo in front of him.
The midfield picks itself with Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez being partnered by one of either Sami Khedira or Isco.
Up front there’s little debate – Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will play on either wing with Javier Hernández spearheading the attack.
4-3-3: Casillas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Rodriguez, Kroos, Isco; Bale, Hernandez, Ronaldo
Alvaro Medran, Karim Benzema (Doubtful), Luka Modric
- Jupp Heynckes’ Madrid beat a Juve team coached by Marcello Lippi in the 1998 UEFA Champions League final.
- The Spanish giants have not conceded an away goal in 444 minutes in this season’s competition.
- Madrid have won eight of their last 11 away games – drawing two – and won all three in this season’s group stage.
- Ancelotti can become the first coach to win the trophy four times.
- Pepe, Ramos, Coentrão and Toni Kroos will incur a suspension with their next booking. Marcelo is available, having served a one-match ban against Atlético.
- Cristiano Ronaldo alone has attempted 28 shots on target in this campaign (more than any other player).