Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli is eager to make home advantage count against Bayern Munich on Tuesday – stating their Champions League opponents are among the three best teams in the world.
Both sides have a rich European pedigree, with two-time winners Juve making the final last season while Bayern beat the Italian giants en route to their fifth continental success in 2012-13.
Leaders of their respective domestic leagues, both endured struggles at the weekend with an off-the-pace Bayern coming from behind to beat Darmstadt while Juve’s 15-match winning run in the league ended with a 0-0 draw at Bologna.
But Bayern are the only foreign team to have beaten Juve on Italian soil in the past decade – picking up wins in 2009 and 2013 – and Barzagli maintains the Bundesliga giants cannot be underestimated.
“We know that Bayern are one of the three best teams in the world,” he told the club’s official website. “But we’re playing at home and the Juventus Stadium will give us a real boost.
“Every team has its weaknesses and it’s our job to find them. We’ll give it a good go and be ready for the battle. When you play two-legged games and the first is at home, it’s crucial you come away with a good result in the first encounter.
“We know we’ll face some difficult moments, but we’re used to playing these kinds of matches.”
Having topped Group F by six points from Arsenal, Tuesday’s first leg will be Bayern’s first European test since Pep Guardiola’s departure at the end of the season was confirmed.
The Spaniard is to join Manchester City and his three-season Bayern spell will be looked upon far more kindly if he can deliver a sixth Champions League crown alongside the array of domestic honours won during his tenure.
Thomas Muller’s impressive bicycle kick was the pick of the goals on Saturday but the Germany international warned Bayern must improve if they are to claim a first-leg advantage this week.
“I controlled it quite well with my chest, then I had to somehow direct it towards goal,” he explained of the acrobatic strike. “But I don’t want to overstate it. If I score an ugly goal it’s worth just as much. We’re glad we’ve clinched three crucial points.
“We’ll have to be smarter in Turin on Tuesday, we mustn’t miss as many chances there.”
Franck Ribery made his return from a long-term thigh injury on Saturday while Mario Gotze was an unused substitute following a calf complaint. Both could feature against Juve although Jerome Boateng (groin) and Javi Martinez (knee) are ruled out.
Former Bayern striker Mario Mandzukic (thigh) is doubtful for Juve with Giorgio Chiellini (calf) and Alex Sandro (thigh) also likely to miss out.
Key Opta stats:
– Juventus, who finished second in Group D behind Manchester City, have made it to the knockout stages of the Champions League in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2005/06.
– Juventus are winless in their last four Champions League games against Bayern Munich (D1 L3), their last victory dating back to November 2005 courtesy of a David Trezeguet brace (2-1).
– Juventus scored only six goals in this season’s group stages, the lowest total among the 16 teams that made it to the knockout campaign.
– Juventus have lost only two of their last 34 home games in the Champions League (W22 D10). Both of those defeats were against Bayern Munich.
– Bayern Munich are winless in their last five away games in the Champions League knockout stages (D2 L3).
– Alvaro Morata has scored six goals in eight starts in the Champions League knockout phase.