Juventus facing uphill struggle against Bayern
TURIN, Italy (AP)
Juventus faces an uphill struggle to qualify for the Champions League semifinals when it faces newly-crowned Bundesliga champion Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Juventus was dominated for most of last Tuesday's first leg, and was lucky to escape Munich only 2-0 down.
''We're in the right frame of mind and we know we need a different game to that of the first leg,'' Juventus coach Antonio Conte said. ''But we are building something important and we're only maybe a third of the way there. We need to continue working hard. Bayern is a skyscraper and there is a gap.
''They have worked hard to get where they are, we have to follow their example. It's only been 18 months that we've been working in a certain direction. But I am convinced that the distance between us and Bayern is not that which we saw at the Allianz Arena. We can do so much better and my players definitely want to show that.''
The Italian side, which is in the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2006 match-fixing scandal, has never managed to overturn a two-goal deficit.
''We have to believe in ourselves, otherwise we start already beaten,'' midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini said. ''They have won the championship, they have a two-goal advantage and they are one of the strongest teams in the world, but we will give everything and try to overturn the result.''
Juventus' task is made more difficult by personnel problems. Midfielder Arturo Vidal and defender Stephan Lichtsteiner, who both started in Munich, are suspended, and striker Sebastian Giovinco is injured.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was criticized after the first leg, was benched Saturday with the flu but will almost certainly be back.
''Buffon is part of footballing history,'' Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said. ''He is a legend for me, a fantastic man and an excellent goalkeeper. I was really touched when he stayed with Juventus in Serie B and I liked that a lot.''
Key playmaker Andrea Pirlo was also rested for the 2-1 win against Pescara but will undoubtedly start against Bayern. In the absence of Vidal, he will be accompanied in midfield by youngster Paul Pogba.
Pogba, who recently turned 20, has gone from strength to strength since joining Juventus from Manchester United in the summer.
Pirlo is likely to face heavy marking by Bayern and much of Juventus' chances of progressing could rest on Pogba's shoulders.
''Pirlo is a fantastic player,'' Pogba said. ''I've admired him since I was a kid and still today I pay close attention to him when he plays. I would love to have a career like his.
''We have to be positive, we'll be ready on Wednesday and we certainly believe we can come back.''
Bayern is the outstanding favorite to progress to the semifinals and keep alive its dreams of a treble.
''Juventus is capable of anything,'' Heynckes said. ''Juventus is a top team and it has shown that so far in the Champions League and in Serie A. They are going to try and make the impossible possible.
''We really want to go through. We won't change anything in Turin, we will try to score to force Juventus to have to score four goals. We have a lot of experience and we know what to do.''
Bayern clinched the championship with a record six games to spare by beating Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0 on Saturday and is also through to the semifinal of the German Cup.
''The German Cup is a great competition, but the Champions League is the best in the world and we want to win it,'' Bayern president Uli Hoeness said.
Last season's heartbreak of losing to Chelsea on penalties in the final will also be fresh in the players' minds.
Bayern playmaker Toni Kroos tore adductor muscles in his thigh in the first leg and is out, along with long-term injury lay-off Holger Badstuber.
Mario Mandzukic missed the Frankfurt match with a cold but should be back on Wednesday, while defensive midfielder Javi Martinez returns from suspension.