Juventus head to Sevilla for the return leg of their Europa League semi-final, with a spot in Budapest up for grabs. The Bianconeri had been on the ropes for long periods of the first leg in Turin with the Spanish side’s counter attacks tearing Massimiliano Allegri’s team to shreds.
That Juve are able to go Southern Spain with the aggregate at 1-1 is a factor of profligate finishing from José Luis Mendilibar’s charges and the Bianconeri’s cat-like tenacity with a late equalizer from Federico Gatti. However, with no away goals rule in place, it’s going to be winner
takes all goes to the Final tomorrow, even if it has to go to penalties.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference today, Allegri wants his side to not worry about what is going on in the courts and behind the scenes.
“We just have to focus on what happens on the field, it is a game to be played and the whole team wants to reach the end of a folk tale season.
“Tomorrow we need character and clear minds. When you are close to the finish line, you want to get there straight away, but we need calm. I have not been a lightning rod for the team, the fact is along with the club we worked to achieve this moment. Tomorrow is an important opportunity to reach another Final, which would be a good result.
“The players know how important this is, so my role is not to fire them up, but to calm them down, otherwise they risk going off kilter. We’ve already played here, we know their strengths and weaknesses. We will have more space to create problems for them here and we need character when we’re on the ball.”
Allegri has taken Juventus to two Champions League Finals and now has a chance to take them to a Europa League Final too.
“The enthusiasm is the same. We hope to be happy tomorrow evening, but these are the games you want to play and it’s difficult to find that excitement anywhere else.”
When questioned on why he said this season was like a folk tale, Allegri expounded -
“This is a season where it seemed like every day we had a different points tally. On top of our objectives on the field, we had to and still do have to think about other things. We took it all in our stride and it went well, as I always said we had to do our duty on the pitch.”
Regarding his squad selection tomorrow, the coach did not divulge much.
“The important thing is that the team is in good shape physically. I will decide tomorrow morning, as I have a doubt in defence, one in midfield and one in attack. It’s going to be a long game and substitutions will be just as important as those who start.”
The coach was joined at the press conference by veteran fullback Juan Cuadrado who said he thought of Sevilla as a great team much like Juventus and considered tomorrow’s game a final in it’s own right.
“It’s an opportunity for me and for the club. We must play with the determination to give ourselves this gift. It would be wonderful to win. I’ve played special games with this team and tomorrow’s is also special. The goal is the final.”