TURIN, Italy (Reuters) – Italian champions Juventus will face a team remarkably similar to themselves when they take on pragmatic and solid Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday, according to their captain Giorgio Chiellini.
The Turin side, trailing 2-0 from the first leg of their round of 16 tie, will know exactly what to expect from Diego Simeone’s team, he said.
“They are a team who defend well, they are nothing new for us,” Chiellini told reporters. “They are the European team who are most similar to us — a solid team who are difficult to score against. I have always held them in high esteem.
“That doesn’t mean to say that we can’t score against them — even they have their weak points.”
Juve have won seven straight Serie A titles but a Champions League crown has so far eluded Chiellini, who joined permanently in 2005, with the Turin side losing in the 2015 and 2017 finals.
The defender has been thinking about Tuesday’s match against Atletico since the defeat in the first leg three weeks ago.
“We’ve all been thinking about it. Every night, before I go to sleep, I’ve been thinking about it,” said the 34-year-old.
Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri would not be drawn on whether he would select playmaker Paulo Dybala.
“I’m not saying he will play and I’m not saying the opposite. I still have to chew it over,” he said.
“Atletico are one of the best teams in Europe and have been for the last 10 years, with three Europa League titles and two Champions League finals.
“It’s a marvellous fixture in the round of 16 and we must be up to the task,” added Chiellini. “If we manage to overturn the first leg result, it will be extraordinary. But we mustn’t think we have won everything, we need to stay calm.”
Atletico coach Diego Simeone adopted a bunker mentality, giving curt answers in which he stated the obvious.
The Argentine twice said the tie consisted of two matches, “one team will go through” and there were no favourites.
“The only thing that counts is the pitch,” he said, using another old cliche. “There’s not much point in talking.”
Allegri said winger Douglas Costa, who was expected to be fit again after injury, had been ruled out of the match. Simeone, meanwhile, confirmed that defender Diego Godin, who picked up a knock in training on Friday, would play.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris)