Juventus take on Real Madrid in the Champions League Final tomorrow, and manager Massimiliano Allegri spoke to the media before an open training session today at the National Stadium of Wales in Cardiff where the Final will be played.
“We have worked all year to prepare for this match and will do everything to take home the trophy.
“It won’t be easy, as Real Madrid are the reigning Champions, but we’ve had a great journey and will try to use elements that they don’t have or at least do more than them.
“I haven’t decided the line-up yet. The game can last 90 minutes or 120. Using the system we’ve been doing for a few months, you do need substitutions and the bench, as with every game, can and must be decisive, one way or the other.
“I think all the games we’ve had this season were training sessions to prepare for this, but tomorrow we have to win. It’s a one-off match, we must understand the moments to attack, the moments to defend, and with a bit of good luck could bring home the trophy. Above all else, we must have the conviction that we can bring home this trophy.”
Real Madrid have a decision to make between Gareth Bale and Isco for tomorrow -
“Bale is more organised and has greater pace. Isco had an extraordinary season and gives a little more unpredictability, but can also create a lack of organisation and in those situations we need to be diabolical to pounce on every opportunity.
“We have already talked to the squad and prepared for either option. Bale is devastating when running into space and Real Madrid are so dangerous, they can counter with three passes and go clear on goal. With Isco they are more unpredictable, but also less organised in defence.
“Keylor Navas is an important player for Costa Rica, but also for Real Madrid, and has proved he could be there for many years.”
Real Madrid’s offensive firepower is legendary, having scored in every one of their last 70 competitive matches.
“Tomorrow Real Madrid might not score. Statistics are irrelevant tomorrow, because we need more hunger, determination and sacrifice. We have to play well, technically and tactically, to get the better of Real Madrid.
“Gonzalo Higuain doesn’t have anything to prove. He is a great player, has already showed he can score important goals, such as the two against Monaco, and even when not scoring has always put in good performances.
“Juventus have played eight Finals and lost six, but when you get to a Final, anything can happen.”
Were there any comparisons to be drawn with Inter’s 2010 treble-winning campaign.
“I haven’t thought about it. We take it day by day. We won the Scudetto, we won the Coppa Italia Final and tomorrow is the last game of an extraordinary campaign. We can make it even more extraordinary.”
He went on to squad updates after that -
“Mario Mandzukic is doing remarkable things and he’s won before. There are players who don’t win by a fluke, they win everywhere they go and there’s a reason for that. Everyone in the squad has grown, including me.
“Alex Sandro has improved a great deal in defence, in his passing and how he keeps the ball. Along with Marcelo, he’s one of the best left-backs in the world.
“Paulo Dybala has improved a great deal in his character and psychological strength. He struggled a little last year, but this term he has approached big games with the right mentality and I am sure he won’t suffer the pressure.
“This can be a stepping stone for Dybala and for all of us. Playing in a Champions League Final is not something that happens every day and Juventus did it twice in three years. We’re proud of that, but it’s not enough. Tomorrow we must win.”
Speaking a little more on the club’s ambitions -
“We didn’t come to Cardiff on vacation. We are here to bring home the trophy. The squad has the utmost focus and calm, the lads stepped up when they needed to and this is the first time in a very long time we’ve been able to train for a whole week.
“I am convinced tomorrow the lads will be sharp and put in a great performance. The most important moments of the game will be when Real Madrid have the upper hand, as we’ve got to give that little bit extra, make the most of our strengths and hit their weaknesses.
“Tomorrow is the Final. We mustn’t think of what happened a year ago, 20 years ago or 50 years ago. We just have to focus on what we must do to bring home that trophy. It’s very simple. We are in the right place at the right time. This team has everything it takes to play a great Final.
“In 2015 we reached the Final deservedly, but not with the belief we’ve got now, as Juventus were coming off a few years where we struggled in the Champions League. It wasn’t a fluke, but it was unexpected.
“We started the campaign with a different mindset and ambition. The way we approach the game, whether it’s Real Madrid, Barcelona or Monaco, is always the same and that’s something I am happy with.”
Allegri picked up an injury during a charity match this week, will he be fit for tomorrow?
“I was never a player at this level, so I am very happy to be on the bench. It’s less of a struggle being on the bench, to be honest!”