Heynckes: Juve a far cry from old Italian sides

The Juventus side which has reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in seven years is a far cry from the Italian stereotype of ruthless defence and gamesmanship, according to their rival coach.

Bayern Munich's Jupp Heynckes has spent days and nights studying his opponents ahead of Tuesday's first leg and has been hugely impressed by what he has seen.

"Juventus are not just catenaccio," he told a news conference. "They are an excellent team with the necessary imagination and creativity.

"In some ways, they are a typical Italian team but, on the other hand, they have great attacking quality with outstanding midfielders such as Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vida and Claudio Marchisio," he said.

"They are a very well well-structured team and they have an attribute which is not so common in Italian teams in that they switch positions very well.

"Juventus have done many things right in the last three or four years. They have put together a new team after the relegation and brought in the likes of Pirlo. He prevails on the team but they are all top players."

Heynckes added: "When you look for positives in a team these will include the way the team is organised tactically, the harmony in the team, the body language of the players and how go they are at pressing, which is very important in today's football.

"I find that Juventus are doing very well in all of those aspects."

UNDERDOGS ROLE

Twice European champions Juventus are Italy's most successful team with 28 Serie A titles but were badly affected by the match-fixing scandal which led to them bring stripped of the 2005 and 2006 titles and relegated to the second tier.

Although they bounced back at the first attempt, they struggled to rebuild until former midfielder Antonio Conte took over as coach last season and led them to the Serie A title at the first attempt.

Back in the Champions League quarter-finals after a seven-year wait, they still do not have the financial firepower of their Bavarian rivals or Spanish pair Real Madrid and Barcelona and Conte continued to insist on Monday that they were underdogs.

"We know we're outsiders and that we're up against one of the main contenders," said Conte, whose side have won their last five games in the competition without conceding a goal and eliminated champions Chelsea in the progress.

"This is a chance for us to pit ourselves against the best and see how far we still have to go."

Facing a side who hit nine goals past Hamburg SV on Saturday, he said: "We will not be the sacrificial lambs, we have deserved to get this far and we will play our football and see how much is still lacking."

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who has been with Juventus through thick and thin, said it could not be any worse than the last meeting between the sides three seasons ago, when Bayern won 4-1 in Turin in another Champions League clash.

"That was probably the worst European performance by Juventus since I've been here," said the 35-year-old.


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