Juventus will treat Madrid match ‘like a final’
MILAN (AP) — Juventus winger Juan Cuadrado believes his team will treat Tuesday’s Champions League first leg against Real Madrid “like a final”.
“They’re a fantastic side but we need to focus on our own game: we’ll play as if it were a final,” Cuadrado said ahead of the last-eight meeting.
Juventus was beaten in its two previous finals against Real Madrid, including a 4-1 defeat in Cardiff last year in the Champions League, but between those two clashes it won all three of its two-legged knockout matches against the Spanish giants.
“Let’s hope everything will be different (from Cardiff),” Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon told the Spanish sports daily Marca.
“We win the matches which last 180 minutes but lose those that last 90. Maybe we should play the finals over 180 minutes.”
Juventus is again in the hunt for a treble. It beat AC Milan 3-1 on Saturday to move four points clear of Napoli at the top of Serie A and is also in the Italian Cup final.
Cuadrado scored Juve’s second goal against Milan after coming on as a substitute for his first appearance following more than three months out with a groin injury.
“He’s come back well and has astounded me because often in the past he hasn’t done well coming off the bench,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said.
Juventus will have to perform better than it has done in its past two matches.
After a 0-0 draw at lowly Spal, Allegri’s men were outplayed by Milan for much of Saturday’s match before Cuadrado’s 80th-minute goal.
Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia and midfielder Miralem Pjanic are banned after being booked in the last-16 victory over Tottenham.
All of the Madrid squad have travelled to Turin, although defender Nacho could miss out with a thigh injury.
Gareth Bale scored twice against Las Palmas on Saturday but could be left out on Tuesday, just as he was in the round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain.
Buffon is clear who he fears the most.
“I have endless admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo,” the goalkeeper said. “He’s managed to get better with time. He’s changed position, expending less energy than before but he’s really lethal.
“I have never seen anyone with the same assassin’s instinct as Ronaldo ... I had the fortune to play against the Brazilian Ronaldo, with and against (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, but Cristiano Ronaldo is picking up record after record.”
Ronaldo has scored seven goals in the five matches he has played against Juventus.