Mauricio Isla has predicted a tricky encounter against the Udinese players he used to line up alongside when Juventus visit the Stadio Friuli on Monday.
Udinese may be 14th in the league table, but the Chilean knows from his five-year experience with the Zebrette that they won’t be lacking motivation to spring an upset, and therefore the Bianconeri will need to be on top of their game with the end of the Serie A campaign so close by.
Speaking to Jtv, Isla began: “It will be a tough match, because even though Udinese are no longer what they were two years ago, they have important players like Di Natale, Pereyra, Muriel…and they also give 100 per cent whenever they face Juve.
“We’ll have to be on our guard and play in the way we know how, because it’s important to win when you’re six games from the end.”
The 25-year-old knows full well the threats Francesco Guidolin’s men pose after finding his feet in Italian football at the Stadio Friuli between 2007 and 2012, and he went on to explain the effect that period has had on his development.
“I’m grateful to Udinese for all that they gave me. I spent some fantastic years there, it was a happy time and it’s thanks to that experience that I’m now part of the best team in Italy.”
After today’s Europa League semi-final draw pitted Juventus against Benfica, the final topic of conversation couldn’t have been anything other than Isla’s views on the upcoming opposition.
“They’re a strong team who can count on a forward like Cardozo and a strong player in Savio, and we’ll have to be at our best to face the challenge.
“It’s more than 10 years since Juve reached a European final, and now that there are just two games between us and playing the final in front of our home crowd it’s really important to us.
“The road here has been difficult, with tough games like the one against Lyon, a young side who played two excellent matches. But the best tie was our last 16 against Fiorentina.”