Juventus up for ‘incredible’ Champions League title: Dybala

TURIN, Italy: Paulo Dybala said Juventus will give Porto no chance to overturn their 2-0 first leg, last 16 deficit on Tuesday as they seek to land an “incredible” Champions League title. “Conceding an early goal isn’t in our plans. We hope it doesn’t happen but if it does we’ll put the ball back on the centre spot and hope not to concede any more,” Dybala said in Turin on Monday. “But we’ll be going out to win this game, and keep a clean sheet.” On the back of their record in Europe alone — Juventus are unbeaten over 20 consecutive home games — the Turin giants are expected to cruise into the last eight for the 10th time after beating 10-man Porto three weeks ago.
Although further progress would depend on who the Italians are paired with in Friday’s quarterfinal draw, Dybala said he is not alone in dreaming of lifting the trophy in Cardiff in May. A controversial 2-1 league win over AC Milan on Friday, in which he scored the deciding penalty — “the biggest of my career” — sparked Juve’s ambitions in Europe. “The win over Milan has fired us up even more,” added Dybala, who is in his second season with the club after signing from Palermo. Considered among the best creative midfielders in Serie A, Dybala believes Juventus are on a par with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
“Since the start of the competition we’ve all been on the same level. We’re top in the league and we’re still in the Italian Cup and maybe, somewhere, we’re also better than them,” he said.
“We’ll keep on forging ahead, but to win the Champions League, at this age (22) and in only my second season at Juventus, would be incredible.”
Yet with Bayern cruising past Arsenal 10-2 on aggregate and Real Madrid beating Napoli 6-2 over two legs, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri called for caution.
Allegri, who led Juve to the 2015 final in his first season in charge before crashing 3-1 to Barcelona in Berlin, said it was “far too early to be talking about finals and fireworks”.
First, he says, they have to overcome Porto.
“It won’t be an easy game,” said Allegri. “As far as we’re concerned, it’s nil-nil. We have to absolutely go out and win this game.
“Porto know how to play these kinds of games, so we have to be strong, make sure we don’t go out there thinking it’s all done and dusted.
“It’s risky, because in football you can never take anything for granted.”
Allegri confirmed midfielder Claudio Marchisio will return to his starting line-up after missing the first leg at the Estadio do Dragao, although doubts remain over defender Giorgio Chiellini.
“I’ve yet to decide if he’ll play,” added Allegri.
Juventus are on their way to a record sixth consecutive Serie A title, and a third consecutive league and Cup double under Allegri.
The 49-year-old Italian, who also won the scudetto with AC Milan in 2011, has been linked with a move to Premier League giants Arsenal.
He hinted it could be his last Champions League campaign with the Italians, saying: “I hope this is the year we win it.” — AFP