Despite coming in for criticism following Juventus’ recent dip in form, coach Claudio Ranieri was in confident mood ahead of the visit of Real Madrid, insisting his side had “absolutely nothing to lose”.
The Bianconeri are in the midst of a five-match run without a win and the pressure is mounting on Ranieri following their second successive Serie A defeat, at Napoli on Saturday night. dia.
Nonetheless, Ranieri believes tonight’s game represents an opportunity to turn around the club’s fortunes.
“We know Real are playing well at the moment,” he said. “They are Spanish champions, they have scored 20 goals in the Liga [in seven games and Madrid coach] Bernd Schuster has a very well-organised team. By contrast we have not been playing as well as we would have liked so we have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“It’s a testing time but we’re still building this Juventus side,” he continued. “And this game represents a great opportunity to bring back some smiles and beat one of the greatest sides in Europe.
“We have a few injuries but the players available are proud and determined to play well against outstanding opponents. I want them to feel free to play their best football and this is how I want us to approach the game – to give it our all.”
Ranieri’s cause has not been helped by a debilitating injury crisis, which worsened on Saturday when Christian Poulsen (thigh) joined a casualty list including David Trezeguet (knee), Jonathan Zebina (achilles), Cristiano Zanetti, Tiago, Mauro Camoranesi, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Nicola Legrottaglie and Olof Mellberg (all thigh) in the treatment room. There are hopes, though, that the last three will recover in time, while Mohamed Sissoko returns from the domestic suspension that forced him out of the Napoli defeat.
Morale is high in the Madrid camp following their last-gasp victory in Saturday’s Madrid derby. Ruud van Nistelrooy’s early opener and a stoppage-time penalty from Gonzalo Higuain sealed a 2-1 victory at local rivals at Atlético.
“We know that three points here will be a huge step towards qualifying,” said Schuster, who may be without injury-prone Arjen Robben who has pulled a thigh muscle.
“The onus is on the hosts to get something, which could work in our favour. Their injuries have mounted up of late, but that could be dangerous for us. They are a resourceful side who know how to react to adversity.”