Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is determined to end Atletico Madrid’s unbeaten home record in the Champions League and take a massive step towards the quarter-finals.
Atletico have won their last eight European games at the Wanda Metropolitano and are unbeaten in 12, but Allegri will not simply be satisfied with a draw against Diego Simeone’s side in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
“Tomorrow, we will have to stay sharp and try to control the game,” Allegri told a pre-match press conference. “I wouldn’t take a draw now, in fact I said to the lads that it’s important to score a goal, although two would be better.
“It’s not a match like any other, it’s an important last-16 match, just as it was last year, two years ago, three years ago, four years ago and five years ago. This is because for Juventus the Champions League has always been a goal.
“It will be a good match between two teams that have excellent organisation. Atletico has made defending its strength and makes the most of set-pieces. It’s the first of two matches and we have to lay the groundwork to get through it.”
Cristiano Ronaldo is set to play his first game in the Spanish capital since leaving Real Madrid, but Sami Khedira has been ruled out through injury and stayed in Italy to undergo tests on the unspecified problem.
“To win you have to work hard and have a little bit of luck, because the Champions League is like that,” Allegri added.
“Having Ronaldo is definitely an advantage because in the last 10 years the top scorers of the tournament were him and (Lionel) Messi, but the team must put in a good performance. With Ronaldo, the best in the world, you have more chances to win, but it’s not a guarantee.”
Atletico midfielder Koke has given Simeone a boost after being passed fit to face Juventus after recovering from a thigh injury sustained against Huesca last month.
“I’m very excited about competing in the Champions League,” Simeone said.
“We will face a very strong team, with important players. They have a lot of quality. With our strengths, we will try to take the game in the direction we want it to go.”