Juventus confident of Atletico Madrid win and top spot
Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci insists the Italian champions can pull off a Champions League shock and snatch first place in Group A from Atletico Madrid on their way to qualifying for the last 16 on Tuesday.
Turin: Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci insists the Italian champions can pull off a Champions League shock and snatch first place in Group A from Atletico Madrid on their way to qualifying for the last 16 on Tuesday.
The Turin giants host the reigning Spanish champions requiring just a draw to claim their place in the knockout phase of the competition for the first time since 2012 when they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Bayern Munich.
But Bonucci has echoed coach Massimiliano Allegri`s demands by calling for Juve to win with the two-goal cushion that would secure top spot.
"We`re a team that has been designed to attack, not to contain. On Tuesday we`ll be going out to win and to finish top of the group," said Bonucci after Friday`s scoreless draw away to Fiorentina.
Bonucci has had to adapt in recent weeks as Allegri has leaned towards a more attack-minded 4-3-1-2 formation.
In Juve`s last Champions League outing away to Malmo the 47-year-old Italian adopted the latter, with a crucial 2-0 win the result of his decision to move the Italians away from the 3-5-2 instilled by former coach Antonio Conte.
Allegri adopted a 3-5-2 for Friday`s trip to Fiorentina where, a year after a 4-2 defeat at the Artemio Franchi stadium, Juve had expected another tough game from Vincenzo Montella`s men.
Allegri is expected to return to a four-man defence for Tuesday.
"When we play with three at the back, we manage to read the game better, but even in a four-man defence I`ve shown I can play to the highest level," said Bonucci.
Whether that will be enough to contain an Atletico side that has won their past five games, scoring 15 and conceding just once in the process, remains to be seen.
Diego Simeone`s visitors have a three-point lead on Juventus and are already qualified for the last 16, but midfielder Raul Garcia says the Spanish champions won`t be taking the game lightly.
Garcia told Tuttojuve.com: "We`re going through a really good period, we`ve won our last five games, scored 15 goals and conceded one.
"We`re working really well and want to keep that good run going. Against Juve we we`ll play with our usual objective and that means we`re going to Turin to win."
While a draw for Juve would see them qualify in second place, an Atletico victory as well as an Olympiakos win at home to Malmo would end Juve`s run in the competition.
Olympiakos, who sit three points behind in third, would secure second spot because of their better head-to-head record having scored twice in a 3-2 defeat in Turin. Juventus lost 1-0 in Athens.
Juve`s determination to claim all three points against Atletico was clear from Allegri`s team selection on Friday.
He left Carlos Tevez, Claudio Marchisio and Alvaro Morata on the bench with only Tevez (61) and Marchisio (79) making late appearanecs.
After a poor start to their group campaign, Juve`s recent revival has only strengthened belief they can beat Atletico.
French teenager Kingsley Coman, who partnered Fernando Llorente up front in Florence, told Juventus tv: "It will be a great game, and an open one at that. We can`t aim for the draw, we have to try and attack and grab first spot by winning the match.
"We struggled a bit at the start of the competition. We dropped the odd important point, but in our last two games we`ve been more efficient, as we also hope to be against Atletico."