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Champions League Preview: Juventus (Barcelona, Group D)

Champions League Preview: Juventus (Barcelona, Group D)

Campbell Finlayson continues our Champions League analysis as he speaks to Juventus fan, @juvefcdotcom about their chances in the Champions League and the prospect of meeting Barcelona. 

How long have you been a Juventus fan and what made you start supporting them?

I started supporting Juventus in the late 90’s, primarily because of the Football Italia coverage on Channel 4. I’d always had an interest in Serie A in general which developed into an obsession with Juventus when i saw players like Del Piero, Baggio and Zidane. There was something wholly unique about the club, the history, the players and the attitude, which can be identified as ‘Lo Stile Juve’ – The Juve Stile. I promised myself that If Juventus won the Serie A title on the last day of the 2002 season, I’d start a website/blog to cover the club more regularly – the rest is history.

Is there any past history between Juventus and Barcelona?

There is a good history between Juve and Barca, most notably/recently last season when we faced them in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Despite being underdogs for the tie, a switch in formation a few months previously gave us an edge over the two games, where we won 3-0 in the first leg before containing the MSN attack in the away leg at the Camp Nou. Prior to that, we were comprehensively beaten by them in the 2015 Champions League final where they were simply too good for us. I think we may need a shift in tactics this time round, considering the defence has been weakened by the departure of Bonucci.

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When Barcelona visit the Allianz Stadium, what kind of atmosphere can they expect?

Although it’s a smaller stadium that the Camp Nou and various others, the Allianz Stadium is always sold out for Champions League games and the various supporters groups are the 12th man on those important European nights. We have an immense atmosphere on the whole and with it being a more ‘modern’ stadium, you get the full effect when you’re on the pitch.

Have Juve done much transfer business this summer?

There’s been a major overhaul in the attack, mainly on the flanks where we lacked depth last season and had to use Mandzukic and Alves as ‘wingers’. The additional of Douglas Costa is a massive upgrade on Cuadrado who fails to deliver in the final third – His dribbling and crosses will benefit Higuain in the season ahead. In a similar vein, the addition of Bernardeschi gives us options across the attack, although he’s best used on the right-hand side. At the back, we’ve reinforced with the signings of De Sciglio and Szcsesny to cover the defence while Matuidi will provide some much needed muscle in the centre of pitch. We may still add Howedes to replace the departed Bonucci which is a great addition for me.

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How is Massimiliano Allegri likely to set the team up tactically and if all players are fit, what would the starting 11 be?

The new players are still being blended into the squad so it may take some time before we see the best XI become apparent. I think Costa is already better than Cuadrado so i hope to see him used more often. I suspect on European nights, we will use a line up similar to this: Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Chiellini, Rugani, Sandro; Matuidi, Pjanic; Costa, Dybala, Mandzukic, Higuain.

Who is your main player that Barcelona will need to stop if they’re going to get a result against Juve?

I think it will be Dybala – He caused so many problems last season and was clinical with his finishing. Those goals in the first leg effectively killed off the tie. This season, I think he’ll have greater freedom to play in a free role behind Higuain, given that the wings have now been addressed properly. He’s definitely the danger man.

What are Juve’s expectations in the Champions League this season?

To win it! It’s been 20 long years and the club are eager to finally lift the trophy. Personally speaking, I’ve grown too used to disappointment in Europe so i’ll be focusing my attention on our domestic efforts.

Tell us where you think the 4 sides will finish in the group?