NEWS
Saturday June 3 2017
Lippi: 'It's time for Juventus'

Marcello Lippi assures this Juventus side “have the credentials to win the Champions League” tonight. “Attack is all Real Madrid have.”

The Final kicks off in Cardiff at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT) and they’re hoping to be the first Bianconeri players to lift this trophy since Lippi’s men in 1996.

“In Berlin in 2015, Juve were coming off the reconstruction of their squad,” Lippi told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“They had won the Scudetto and then reached the Final, so it seemed almost a fluke. Instead over the last two years there has been planned growth amplified by absolute conviction in their own strength.

“One mustn’t underestimate the self-belief that comes with winning six consecutive Serie A titles, a simply exceptional result.

“After losing the Final 3-1 to Barcelona, they realised that it was important to improve the technical quality in the squad, so they brought in champions like Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and the experience of Sami Khedira.

“I think this time we can safely say that Juventus have the credentials to win the Champions League. This season they put three goals past Barcelona and did not concede any, which was an extraordinary achievement.

“Juventus have reached the level of belief, strength and ability to win the Champions League.”

Lippi’s Bianconeri beat Ajax on penalties in 1996 after a 1-1 draw in Rome. You can look back on the previous Juventus European Cup Finals here.

“I think Allegri has already shown he doesn’t need advice from anyone, as he has shown extraordinary wisdom in leading Juventus. It’s true that Real Madrid have exceptional attacking qualities, as did Barcelona, but that’s all they’ve got.

“Real Madrid don’t know how to defend and they always allow their opponents plenty of chances. I will also add that no team in the world can boast the defensive quality that Juventus have, but now in addition to that, they also have good forwards.

“Real Madrid will certainly cause problems for Juventus with such talent in attack, but I am also just as sure that Juve will cause many issues for the Madrid defence. We’ll see which of the two teams comes out on top.”

Lippi was asked who will be the decisive figure in Cardiff this evening.

“It’s easy to say Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo, Toni Kroos or Paulo Dybala, but the big clashes are often decided not by the main actors, but those who do their work behind the scenes. I am thinking of a Khedira change of pace, a sudden movement that slices the opposition defence in two.”

The Champions League is the one major trophy that Buffon has yet to add to his career and it’s rumoured a victory could make him the favourite for the Ballon d’Or.

“I am very fond of Buffon and we speak often,” continued Lippi.

“I consider him to be world class and not just as a player. At the age of 39, he’s still the best in the world. He’s world class in his playing, the way he communicates through the media, as he always knows how to say the right thing at the right time.

“He never tries to dodge a question and always gives his opinion on any issue. He’s an extraordinary guy. I really hope that Juventus win the Champions League for many reasons, but above all because it could be the right time for Buffon to take the Ballon d’Or.

“He deserves it, for spending his whole life as a champion.”