Apr 24, 2015

    Underdogs Juve 'unafraid', eye Champs League final


    JUVENTUS coach Massimiliano Allegri insisted his side will not be in the Champions League semi-finals just to make up the numbers, after the Italian giants edged past Monaco on Wednesday evening.

    The Serie A leaders played out a 0-0 second-leg draw at the Stade Louis II to win their quarter-final tie 1-0 on aggregate, with Arturo Vidal's penalty in Turin last week ultimately making the difference.

    While Juve have recovered from the Calciopoli scandal that rocked Italian football in 2006 to dominate again domestically in recent seasons, they have not been in the last four in Europe's elite club competition since 2003.

    The two-time European champions will therefore be the underdogs in today's draw alongside holders Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich - clubs who have 10 appearances in the semi-finals between them over the last four seasons alone.

    But a bullish Allegri said: "We are not afraid. This was an important objective for us but not the final one.

    "There would be no point in qualifying if we didn't want to go even further. We will of course look to reach the final."

    In his first season in charge of Italy's most successful club, Allegri has Juve on the brink of retaining the Serie A title, they are in the final of the Italian Cup and, now, still have a chance of continental glory, 30 years after they won their first European Cup on the night of the Heysel disaster.

    "The results show that we are on our way to becoming strong again and building a basis for the future," he added.

    "The performances were not sensational. The two games were not beautiful, but we defended well and we needed to be brave and tenacious."

    Vidal had recovered from illness in time to start the game in the principality, and Allegri revealed that the bug from which the Chilean was suffering had passed on to strikers Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata, who were both substituted.

    "That shows how big the result is, and that we have an exceptional group of players who managed to hold on to their advantage. We are enormously satisfied at being through."

    It was the sort of rock-solid defensive performance so often associated with Italian teams in the past, as Juve kept a ninth clean sheet in their last 10 games.

    "There was a lot of pressure on the players after 12 years of waiting. It's the Italian way, it's ugly but it works," French full-back Patrice Evra told beIN Sports.

    Evra admitted that the principality club deserved more for their performances over the two legs.

    Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim agreed, but his side were let down by their lack of quality in the opposition area and by penalty calls that went against them in both legs.

    "I am proud of what we did over the two games. Monaco were never inferior to Juventus. We played good football and showed all of Europe our individual and collective quality," he said.