Tuesday 15 October 2019

Europe not an obsession for Juventus - Chiellini

Juventus' Giorgio Chiellini with team mates during training. Photo: REUTERS/Massimo Pinca
Juventus' Giorgio Chiellini with team mates during training. Photo: REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

Miguel Delaney

In what was a long conversation with Spanish media about all the similarities between Juventus and Atletico Madrid, Giorgio Chiellini expressed one big difference on one major theme hanging over their tie.

"It's not an obsession," the defender insisted to 'Marca' of the club's grand pursuit of the Champions League. "A target, yes, but with serenity. We know that we are not the only team who wants to win it."

There is only one other team, however, that has come as close to winning it without doing so in the current era. That is Atletico. Both have reached the final twice in that time, only to be beaten twice.

They have become the competition's "greatest" losers, and that doesn't just apply to this era. Atletico are the club to have got to the most European Cup finals - three - without winning one.

Juventus are the club to have lost the most finals, at a remarkable seven. The mere two trophies the Italians hold feels like huge underperformance.

Little wonder the two clubs and their managers are so singularly intent on winning the Champions League. Little wonder they bristle at suggestions it's an obsession. Their "failures" are only seen as such because of the vast amount of success they've enjoyed, the amount of Champions League ties they've won.

These are two hugely intelligent sides that you very rarely outwit, and it is telling they have only really been beaten by wealthier clubs with much more star power. For Juventus, it's been: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid… and Real Madrid.

For Atletico, it's been: Real Madrid, Real Madrid. Real Madrid, Real Madrid and, in a rare break last season, Roma and Chelsea.

Features "The draw has not been easy because we have to play a team that is very like us in terms of values, ideals and features," Chiellini said. "They are the closest thing to us in Europe… Atletico are a team with less of a Spanish philosophy and more of an Italian one. They play a very compact and vertical style and achieve extraordinary results with players of great quality. [Antoine] Griezmann is an incredible player."

There is still one other player who stands out in this tie, because of the one club that stands out among the recent conquerors of both Atletico and Juve, and how he has made so many Madrid derbies so predictable: Cristiano Ronaldo. He has scored a remarkable 22 goals against Atletico for Madrid, and Chiellini feels he is now helping Juve go "beyond what we thought we could be".

He has effectively been brought in to win the Champions League. It will only energise Diego Simeone, though, to come up with something to finally eliminate him from the competition. (© Independent News Service)

Atletico Madrid v Juventus, Virgin Media 1/BT Sport 3, 8.0

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