Giorgio Chiellini is relaxed. With Cardiff just a few days away, his mind is firmly focused on what Juve will face in their biggest match of the season.
Chiellini demands extraordinary performance
LESSON FROM BERLIN
“We’ll use our experience from Berlin two years ago in the build-up to this final,” said the defender. “This is our second final in three years and that definitely means something. We’ll stay calm this week. We were too tense at the start of the 2015 final and we conceded in the first half. Even when we got back into the match they responded because we were too exposed defensively. We don’t want to make the same mistakes twice though I tend to take the positives from past experiences, even unhappy ones.”
Chiellini’s views clearly reflect just how comfortable Juventus are at the top end of the European game.
“Last year we went out with our heads held high in the 90th minute and we’re once again preparing for a final. I believe that’s where the club should consistently be – in the quarter-finals every year at least. The Champions League then comes down to fine margins but those are the club’s plans now we’ve firmly reestablished ourselves domestically.”
APPROACH TO THE GAME
“Our start to the match will be crucial. We have to be organised – that’s essential in a one-off game and it gives you the best chance of reading the play. We meet a team that have won this trophy twice in the last three years.
"They’re even more dangerous because just when you think you’ve got the game by the scruff of the neck, they strike. We feel we’ve improved in the last two years and the squad has got better but the key to everything will be our willingness to go the extra yard. In a Champions League final you have to do your bread and butter well but also be able to go above and beyond.”
A word on the opposition: “We know all about them but obviously starting today we’ll study them with a fine-tooth comb. For instance, we have to figure out how their shape changes depending on whether Isco or [Gareth] Bale play. I think they’re equally good players but they’re different. Clearly we know that it’s inconceivable to give a team like that chances.”
THE JUVE SQUAD
Giorgio, as one of the side’s old guard, also waxed lyrical about Juve’s team spirit and the ability of his team-mates.
“There are lots of us and we’re all different,” he explained. “Creating a squad like ours is anything but a formality. We have South American players who are always able to release the tension. During the week it’s like we’re all off for a kick-around in the park but come matchday we give everything.”
Then there’s the backline which features a number of veterans but some younger faces too: “A lot is made of [Leonardo] Bonucci, [Andrea] Barzagli and me but lest we forget we have another two centre backs who would start in any other team. We’re all top-class players and we each have our own individual characteristics.”
Behind them all is Gigi: “I don’t agree with people claiming Buffon should win the Ballon d’Or for what’s he achieved. He deserves it for the level he’s showing now. I’ve been fortunate to play in front of him for almost the entirety of my career and I can’t even remember what it’s like not to have him behind me making the hardest saves look easy.”
Chiellini added: “Either way I don’t foresee wholesale changes coming, at least in the short term. Obviously over the years the odd player will come and go but change is part and parcel of football.”
THE TURNING POINT
Finally, Giorgio detailed the crucial periods of the season which ends on Saturday: “In terms of our play, it has to be the switch in formation. We were winning matches before that too albeit with fewer frills. If I had to pick out a match on our Champions League run, I’d choose the Barcelona tie. It’s very rare to keep two clean sheets against players that good.”
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