Carlo Ancelotti trusts Juventus and Roma can get past Real Madrid and Barcelona, praising Max Allegri for a “masterpiece of tactics and strategy.”
The draw for the Champions League quarter-finals has not been kind to Italian clubs, pitting them against two Spanish giants and favourites to lift the trophy.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a very tough draw for our teams, as Madrid and Barcelona are favourites to win the tournament, along with Manchester City,” Ancelotti told the Corriere dello Sport.
“I saw the Blancos in action in Paris, where they eliminated Paris Saint-Germain. If Real are third in La Liga and 15 points adrift of Barcelona, they reached seven consecutive Champions League semi-finals, have more shots on target than any other side this season and Cristiano Ronaldo has 117 goals.
“Having said all that, this is a different Juventus to the one that lost 4-1 in the Final in Cardiff last year. They are stronger and above all more aware of their own capabilities. Allegri knows what he has to do. At Wembley, beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1, he organised the perfect performance. That game was a masterpiece of tactics and strategy.
“It’s true, Juve have not conceded in Serie A since December and have the best defensive record in the league, but they can’t rely only on defensive solidity to eliminate the Champions of Europe. That could never be enough.
“Real Madrid are always going to score a goal. Juventus are very dangerous in attack too with Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala in great shape.
“I think this time, over the course of 180 minutes, it won’t end the same way it did in Wales. Nothing is impossible. Let’s not forget Allegri and Juventus have that desire for revenge, a formidable propellent.”
Roma have been even less fortunate in the draw, as their first Champions League quarter-final in a decade will be against Barcelona.
“Roma already achieved something exceptional by reaching the quarter-finals after winning the Group of Death ahead of Chelsea and Atletico Madrid,” continued Ancelotti.
“They turned all the predictions around and Eusebio Di Francesco has been excellent. I won’t forget this is his first Champions League campaign.
“The way to beat Barcelona is not changing yourself to suit them. It all points to Barcelona, from history to the strength in depth of the Catalan team to their excellent form this season, Leo Messi’s immense talent and the fact they’ve conceded only two goals in the tournament this year.
“Having said that, I know the Champions League very well and nothing can be taken for granted, even against one of the best teams in the world. At times, an unexpected incident or an injury can change the course of a game.
“At the right moment, Di Francesco found Edin Dzeko, Radja Nainggolan and Kostas Manolas in their best shape, while Alisson is proving himself to be an exceptional goalkeeper.
“I am certain of one thing: Roma will fight to the bitter end. With all due respect to Barcelona, nobody is afraid. The Stadio Olimpico crowd will push the Giallorossi on as only they know how.”