Real Madrid visit Turin to take on Juventus F.C for a crucial UEFA Champion League semi-final encounter on Tuesday. The Los Blancos will look forward to secure a win in the two-legged encounter against the Old Lady and qualify for their second successive Champions League final.
Madrid will be high on confidence after their win against Sevilla on Saturday. They have a few injury concerns. French forward Karim Benzema will be out of action in this game due to a ligament injury. He did not even travel with the team. Gareth Bale has a minor calf injury but is expected to be in the first team squad.
Addressing the media before the game, Real Madrid gaffer Carlo Ancelotti said: “I believe that the semi-finals will be close. It has been a few years since they reached this stage of the competition, but they won the Italian league last Saturday and go into the game full of confidence. They are a very strong side, with a lot of experience and high-quality players.
“Juventus have always had a strong and competitive side. Winning here is not so easy. Having said that we want to reach the dream we have after winning La D cima and that means playing in the final again. The important thing is to try and play and well as possible showing all of our quality. We are having a good spell. The team is confident and all of the players are doing well. They are going to try and do everything as well as possible”.
About the semi-final match and their opponents, the Italian manager opined: a The semi-final is going to be close and I also think that Juventus are different to Atl tico. It will be a different game. Against Atl tico we took control and possession, but Juventus also like possession. A different game and a different type of team. The motivation is to compete for the team and to have the opportunity to play in the final and win the Champions League. It will be difficult but we are close.
a They can play with three central players or four defenders. That is something we are not sure about but we have to impose our identity and our rhythm on the game. If Juve have got to the semi-final it is because they have deserved it. They are a balanced side and are capable of doing a lot. In the Champions League semi-finals you lose if you are afraid and win if you are brave.
a When I say that we can draw the two games, it doesn’t mean that we are going to defend. We are going to prepare for the game with attacking football in mind, but we also have to defend better than we have done lately. I have my starting eleven but I am not announcing it now. We are not playing with three central defenders. We played like that for ten minutes against Celta and five against Sevilla. We will play with four defenders and Ramos may be in midfield.
a There are players like Morata, T vez, Pirlo and Vidal that you have to take into consideration when setting up a team. We are not focussing on a single player. We have to consider the whole side’s strength”.
A lot has been written about the meeting of Andrea Pirlo and Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian midfield maestro had played under Carlo Ancelotti while both of them were at AC Milan. Regarding Pirlo the manager said: a He is a great player and I hope that he continues to play in Italy. He sees me as a father figure, and I see him as a brother, not as a child”.
Finally on the intimidating factor of the home crowd and Ancelottia s previous experience at the club, he said: a I coached there for two years and two years and got on very well with a section of the club’s fans. I learned a lot at the club and had problems with some fans. They helped me to grow a lot over the two years”.
A mouth-watering clash is on the cards as the two giants of European football lock horns at the Juventus Stadium. The last time these two sides met in the Champions League was in the 2002/03 season where Juventus emerged victorious 3-1 and qualified for the finals on 4-3 aggregate. Real Madrid will be desperate to seek revenge from this two-legged encounter.