Massimiliamo Allegri has suggested that Juventus’ “obsession” with winning the Champions League has become damaging.
Juve face a crunch clash on Tuesday against Atletico Madrid – who hold a 2-0 lead from the first leg in Spain – as they bid to win European football’s premier club competition for the first time since 1996.
Given the LaLiga side’s two-goal lead and their formidable defence, the odds are stacked firmly against Allegri’s men.
The prospect of elimination has even prompted speculation over Allegri’s future this week but the Juve coach believes the club’s desire to win the Champions League has become all-consuming, clouding what he has achieved in the competition.
Speaking after his team’s 4-1 win over Udinese on Friday, which saw them open up a 19-point lead over Napoli at the Serie A summit, Allegri told Sky Sport Italia: “Juventus were always in the running for the Champions League during my time here. When I arrived, there was a great deal of scepticism not just towards me, but the team and club.
“In my time, we always at least reached the last 16, got to the final twice and were eliminated only by the eventual winners.
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“It’s not that simple. Bayern Munich took 10 years to win the Champions League, while Chelsea only won it when they didn’t deserve to, as they were pinned back for most of that final.
“In my view, it’s wrong to see it negatively, because I think we’ve done a great job here. It’s true every story has to come to an end, but we’re heading for an eighth consecutive Scudetto and won the Italian Super Cup.
“I think expectations have been raised far too much and it’s become an obsession. Playing in the Champions League ought to be a pleasure and a joy.
“It’s a different tournament to the others, as if a ball bounces badly, you don’t have time to recover, you’re already out.”
With one eye on the visit of Diego Simeone’s side, Allegri opted to leave Cristiano Ronaldo on the substitutes’ bench and his replacement, Moise Kean, marked his first league start of the campaign with a well-taken brace.
The 19-year-old has struggled for game time this season and, while being pleased with his contribution, Allegri did warn the Italy international which areas he needs to work on.
“Kean is very good when it comes to running at the goal and finishing, but needs to improve his movement and choices. But that’s inevitable for a kid who was born in 2000,” he added.
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