First knockout round, second leg (First leg: Chelsea 1-0 Juventus)
Coach Claudio Ranieri says his Juventus side will “exceed their limits” to overturn the first-leg deficit against Chelsea, doing whatever it takes to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
Ranieri’s side were beaten by an early Didier Drogba strike two weeks ago at Stamford Bridge but there promising moments for the Italian outfit during that game and the Juventus coach believes his players can turn the tie around on home ground.
“I have some great players at this club,” said the 57-year-old, who was Chelsea’s manager between 2000 and 2004. “And they know that they are playing for a great club. Juve are an international club who have been a force in Europe over the years.
“The players sometimes feel the weight of the shirt but they also know that they have what it takes to win at this level. These players are ready to give their all to get the result they need.”
Ranieri’s task has not been made any easier by a lengthening injury list which will deprove him of Mohamed Sissoko, Cristiano Zanetti, Mauro Camoranesiand Nicola Legrottaglie. Ranieri can at least welcome back Pavel Nedved, Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet, having dropped the trio to the bench for Saturday’s 1-0 win over Torino.
Nedved and Del Piero are survivors of the last Juve team to lose a Champions League match at home, a record that stretches back five years and 16 games.
Ranieri’s former club arrive in Italy in buoyant mood after extending their 100 per cent record under manager Guus Hiddink to six matches with Saturday’s FA Cup victory at Coventry City. Their morale has been further lifted by Michael Essien’s appearance as a second-half substitute, his first game in six months, while Ricardo Carvalho and Nicolas Anelka are also close to comebacks.
Hiddink is confident his side can build on their 1-0 lead in Turin.
“It was important for us to keep a clean sheet at home, but if we only work on not conceding and not taking the initiative, we will have problems,” he warned.
“It is in the character of the team to attack and whenever possible we will because if we just defend we’re asking for trouble. When you reach the knockout rounds at this level it is always very close and the match can go either way. We have players here that can take us all the way.”