One goal for Juventus against Benfica on Thursday could prove enough to see them contest the UEFA Europa League final on home turf.
A stunning Lima strike six minutes from time at the Estadio da Luz handed Benfica a slender advantage ahead of Thursday’s second leg in Turin, but Carlos Tevez’s away goal for Juve could potentially prove crucial.
Tevez’s 73rd-minute strike, which equalised Ezequiel Garay’s early opener, means a 1-0 win for Antonio Conte’s team at the Juventus Stadium this week would put them through to the Europa League final at their own stadium on May 14.
However, Juve have struggled to keep clean sheets at home in European competition this term.
Although the Italian champions, who are on course for a third straight domestic title, have not been beaten in their six continental outings at home in 2013-14, they have managed just one shutout.
And Conte’s side will face a buoyant Benfica outfit, who followed up their Primeira Liga title success last week by sealing their place in the Taca da Liga final with a win over rivals Porto on penalties at the weekend.
Benfica also have fine pedigree in the Europa League, and are the only unbeaten team left in this season’s competition following the disappointment of losing last year’s final to Chelsea.
Jorge Jesus’ charges have won their last four European away fixtures, but Conte is confident they can be put off their stride by a vocal Juventus Stadium crowd.
“We are going to play with 12 men on Thursday, I am convinced of it, and Benfica had better beware because the fans are going to enter the fray,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“What excites me is these three years in charge of Juventus. This has been a truly incredible journey, if we think that three years ago we overcame all the odds.
“I reiterate I want on Thursday for the supporters to create a fiery cauldron in the stadium, just as Benfica’s fans did in Lisbon.”
Juve have won 21 and drawn three of their home games in all competitions this season, and could be crowned Serie A champions again this weekend.
Benfica, though, are on course for a quadruple, as they are in the finals of both the Taca da Liga and the Taca de Portugal and have won their last eight games including the Sunday’s shootout success over Porto.
And first-leg hero Lima feels his team-mates have the quality to make a third final of the season in Italy this week.
“We will go to Turin as a united team to try to go through with humility. We have the quality and the ability to achieve that,” he told UEFA.com.
Arturo Vidal is a doubt for Juve with a knee injury while Ljubomir Fejsa (foot), Silvio (leg), Eduardo Salvio (arm) and Nicolas Gaitan (thigh) could all miss out for the visitors.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!