24 November 2015
Today could not have got off to a better start for Claudio Marchisio, on the eve of another crucial European night at Juventus Stadium.
On the back of last season’s superb run to the Champions League final in Berlin and a confident start to the 2015/16 UCL campaign, the Bianconeri midfielder woke up to the news that he, alongside team-mates Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morata, had been nominated for the UEFA Team of the Year of 2015.
Asked for his reaction to the announcement to kick off this evening’s pre-match press conference at the home of the champions, the Little Prince was naturally honoured and typically humble.
“I was delighted to hear the news not just on a personal level but also for the team as a whole because there are six of us on that shortlist,” he began.
“The nominations demonstrate just how good we were last season and it’s a real recognition of our efforts over the last 12 months or so.”
“Our good form in Europe, getting to last year’s final and kicking off this campaign in a similar vein by beating our main rivals Manchester City and Sevilla shows that we’re very comfortable in this competition.
“City and Sevilla are both very good sides but neither have great pedigree in the Champions League which goes to show that having excellent players isn’t everything.”
Turning attentions solely to tomorrow night’s match, the 29-year old added that while the two-time Premier League champions had struggled in Europe in recent seasons and will be without several key names come kick-off, the depth of Manuel Pellegrini’s squad would ensure a tightly-contested affair in Turin.
“It won’t be easy tomorrow night. City are coming off the back of a heavy defeat in the league and so we’ll have to be prepared for the potential backlash from that.
“They have great depth in their squad so the fact that they have a few important players missing doesn’t really change anything for us and those stepping in will want to give their all to force their way into the team.
“We’ve had injury problems of our own and even when I was unavailable myself I still saw a strong side, capable of producing impressive performances and demonstrating that we’re right at home in European competition.”
Should the Bianconeri show the same discipline, tactical awareness and assuredness on the big stage as they did back in September at the Etihad Stadium against the same opposition, Marchisio and Juventus will indeed be back where they belong, at the sharp end of the UEFA Champions League once more.