Saturday March 18 2017
Zambrotta: 'Juve on Barca's level'

Gianluca Zambrotta is confident Juventus can beat Barcelona in the Champions League. “Max Allegri’s side has never been closer to Barça.”

The sides will face off in the quarter-finals with the first leg in Turin on April 11 and the decider at Camp Nou on April 19.

“This is one of the two games that could’ve been the Final, along with Bayern Munich-Real Madrid,” World Cup winner Zambrotta told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“They are two teams who can target the Treble, so that shows you how strong they are.”

Barcelona very nearly crashed out of the tournament in the Round of 16 after a 4-0 first leg defeat to Paris Saint-Germain, but completed an incredible comeback to win 6-1 with the last kick of the game.

“That told us that Barcelona can be put under serious pressure, the second leg confirmed it’s a side capable of finding hidden resources even when they seem to be out of gas.

“Allegri has to keep both those games in mind. The key will be the first leg, as Juventus can make the most of home advantage, their remarkable record on home turf and the fact Sergio Busquets will be suspended.

“Luis Enrique showed by moving to a three-man defence after the defeat in Paris that he can create new things, but inventions don’t always work and Busquets has unique characteristics in that squad.

“He could use Javier Mascherano, but that would weaken the defence. Ivan Rakitic or Andre Gomes are options, but they are very different to Busquets.

“The first leg is very important, because I’ve played at Camp Nou and I know what it feels like to be pushed on by 95,000 people. It gives you wings and we saw that against PSG. Barcelona are scary on home turf, so Juve must ensure they don’t get shaken by that atmosphere.”

The last time these clubs met was the 2014 Champions League Final, when Barcelona won 3-1 at the end of a hard-fought game.

“Qualification is within reach for this Juve side. Allegri’s teams have never been so close to Barcelona as they are now in terms of quality and mental strength,” continued Zambrotta.

“This Barcelona side remains very strong, of course, but it’s not the perfect unit built by Pep Guardiola. Juve are also different to two years ago, improving both in personnel and mentality. And Allegri knows that.

“Juve want to make that step up in Europe and to do that they need to overcome obstacles like Barcelona. They are ready and have everything it takes to win.

“The good thing about Juventus is they don’t just depend on one player. They have world class figures all the way through the squad. Even the defence isn’t their main asset. This is a complete team.”

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