Maurizio Sarri shifted the weight of Champions League expectation to the four English clubs involved as he urged Juventus to attack the competition with freedom.
Juve host Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in their second Group D game on Tuesday after squandering a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Atletico Madrid in the opening round of matches.
Failing to preserve three points was seen as a disappointment but former Chelsea boss Sarri wants his team to feel completely removed from pressure in their pursuit of a long-awaited success in Europe.
The Bianconeri last won the Champions League in 1996 and a failure to end that drought contributed to Massimiliano Allegri’s departure as head coach following five otherwise excellent seasons – during which time he reached the 2015 and 2017 finals.
Premier League teams have lifted the trophy on five occasions since Juve’s most recent triumph, including Liverpool in an all-English final last term.
“For managers and players, the Champions League is the top competition,” Sarri said at Monday’s pre-match news conference.
“We ought to be here to have fun too. You are here to play the best games in Europe. We must live it cheerfully and not with heaviness.
“Sometimes, instead, we feel a meaningless sense of pressure. Meaningless because at this time it is highly unlikely for an Italian club to be the favourite.
“We can be among the favourites but in this moment English clubs are the favourites for reasons we all know.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) September 30, 2019
“I am trying to make this burden lighter because these games are played with a lot of pressure.
“We should play with a great determination and focus but also with pride and satisfaction.”
Sarri’s men enter the Leverkusen clash on a three-match Serie A winning run that has kept them within two points of leaders Inter, who are in action away to Barcelona on Wednesday.
The title rivals meet in a top-of-the-table encounter at San Siro on Sunday but Sarri insists his sole focus is on the task at hand.
“Thinking beyond this game would be a sensational mistake,” he said of Leverkusen’s visit.
“We still have a lot of room for improvement.
“Our objective is to go all the way in the Champions League, but it’s a competition that is decided in fine moments.
“I expect a good result. It’s a difficult game and our first one at home in the Champions League this season.”
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