Massimiliano Allegri has warned his Juventus team not to let their Uefa Champions League round of 16 opponents Borussia Dortmund take them unawares.
Juventus host Dortmund in Turin in the first leg of their last 16 tie on Tuesday night, their first meeting since the German side triumphed 3-1 on aggregate in the 1997 Champions League final in Munich. That win came as a measure of revenge for the Serie A side’s 6-1 aggregate triumph in the 1992-1993 Uefa Cup (now Europa League) final.
Last Friday’s 2-3 win at Stuttgart helped coach Jurgen Klopp’s side move three points above the relegation play-off spot in the Bundesliga table, after starting 2015 second from bottom. The win was the Westfalians’ third in quick succession, equaling their best run this season.
“Klopp has done great things. He has rebuilt Borussia since 2006, winning the Bundesliga and doing great things in Europe,” Allegri said of the 2011, 2012 German champions, as well as losing Champions League finalists in 2013.
“I think it’s an anomaly that Borussia are in the position they are in (in the Bundesliga). Come the end of the season, I expect they will be among the leading clubs because the league is still tight apart from (Bundesliga leaders) Bayern; they are a league of their own.”
Dortmund have failed to record maximum points in just two of their last 7 Champions League away games, including a 2-0 loss at Arsenal on Match Day 5 of the current campaign. That notwithstanding, they finished ahead of the Gunners (on goal difference) at the top of Group D.
Their most recent visit to Italy ended in a 2-1 defeat by Napoli in their first European game last season, while their last win came in the 2008-09 Uefa Cup first round- a 2-0 win over Udinese; a result which was followed by a 2-2 aggregate and a 4-3 loss on penalties.
“We were never more motivated for the Champions League than the Bundesliga, we just got a bit more room in the Champions League, which will not be the case here. I’m just glad that the first half of the season is behind us now,” Klopp said.
Juve’s last home defeat (in all competitions) came at the expense of another German side, Bayern Munich, a 2-0 defeat in April 2013. The Old Lady has since then gone 46-match unbeaten, including their last ten home matches in Europe.
“Nobody is saying they are better than us but they are very fast and technically strong up front,” Allegri told reporters in Monday’s pre-match media conference. They are well-organised and play good football, particularly in attack.
“Playing at home, it is fundamental that we don’t concede; they score a lot though.”
Luca Marrone is unavailable because of a thigh injury while winter signing Alexandro Matri has yet to recover from a calf injury. Defender, Barzagli, who had right heel surgery in July and then suffered a setback in October, is doubtful.
Ghanaian Kwadwo Asamoah and Romulo, who both underwent surgery in early December, will not participate in a Champions League game for the rest of the season (replaced).
Dortmunds Kevin Grosskreutz is out with a thigh muscle tear he sustained in February. Kehl (shoulder) and Seven Bender (knee) have resumed training but are doubtful. Erik Durm (flu), mid-season arrival Kevin Kampl (undisclosed muscle problem) faces late fitness test for the last 16 tie.
Juve: Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio, Vidal; Tevez, Morata.
Dortmund: Weindenfeller; Piszczek, Sokratis, Hummels, Schmeizer; Bender, Gundogan; Blaszczykowski, Kagawa, Reus, Aubameyang.