Leonardo Bonucci believes Juventus play with less anxiety in the Champions League than they do in Serie A but is still anticipating an intense Group D battle with Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday.
The defending Italian champions have struggled so far this season in a bid to win a fifth consecutive Scudetto, with Massimiliano Allegri’s men taking just nine points from eight games.
A 0-0 draw at third-placed Inter on Sunday left Juve down in 14th position on the table, but their fortunes in the Champions League could not be more contrasting.
Juve have maximum points from their first two games having followed a superb 2-1 comeback win at Manchester City with a 2-0 victory over Sevilla.
Despite their poor form in the league, last season’s beaten finalists will be favourites to put Gladbach to the sword and take another step towards the knock-out rounds.
Bonucci told Sky: “The goal is to close the gap to the top of the table, and progress in the Champions League. There’s still something missing, but we have no more excuses, they’re for losers.
“In the league we possibly have more anxiety in our performances after this slow start. In Europe we play teams who face us head-on, and that allows us to show our quality as we did against Manchester [City] and Sevilla.
“Winning on Wednesday would be an important step, but anything can happen in the Champions League. Borussia have started to put results together after a difficult start, and it’ll be an intense game.”
Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is in doubt because of a calf injury picked up in the stalemate at San Siro, while Martin Caceres (ankle) and Stephan Lichtsteiner both missed the game in Milan.
Gladbach are without Granit Xhaka, Patrick Herrmann and Nico Schulz (all knee) as well as Martin Stranzl (eye) for the trip to Turin.
The German side have won their last four games in the Bundesliga and were only denied their first point of the group stage against Manchester City because of a last-gasp Sergio Aguero penalty.
Interim coach Andre Schubert’s men thumped Eintracht Frankfurt 5-1 away from home on Saturday, with midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud on the scoresheet.
Looking ahead to the trip to Turin, Dahoud told Gladbach’s official website: “Those are the type of games that you simply have to enjoy as a player, although it’s obviously going to be extremely difficult for us.
“Juventus have a lot of highly skilled players and they are always very defensively organised. But we still go into the game with a lot of confidence and we hope to get a result there.”
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