Stefano Sturaro believes domestic double winners Juventus have got nothing to lose when they lock horns with La Liga titleholders Barcelona in next Saturday’s Champions League final at the Olympiastadion.
The 22-year-old, who has gained a plethora of plaudits since joining the club from Genoa in the winter transfer window, is also of the opinion that despite a lack of experience, the Bianconeri have it in them to rise to the occasion on the European stage.
Speaking to Sky Sport, he began: “Our enthusiasm is sky high. We approach it on the back of two triumphs, two cups that we’ve managed to bring home, and a near-perfect season.
“Obviously there’s a bit of anxiety, because games like these don’t come around very often for many players during their careers. But we’re fortunate in the fact that we have team-mates around us who have already gone through these moments and will be able to help out those with less experience.”
In spite of a tough beginning to their Group A exploits, Juventus managed to qualify for the knockout phase and subsequently overcome Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and Real Madrid, taking their place in the final for the first time since 2003.
And with Luis Enrique’s men providing the final obstacle in their European dream, Sturaro cites that the Old Lady’s “tight-knit group”, which has served them so well this season, could prove a key factor in their quest to defeat the Catalan giants in Berlin.
“The fact we’re here tells us we’re on a similar level to them. They have some of the best players in the world, but we don’t feel like we’re underdogs.
“The game will begin at 0-0 and we’ll give it everything we’ve got. Our tight-knit group and ability to help each other out can make the difference.”
A few eyebrows in the media were raised when Massimiliano Allegri chose to give Sturaro his full Champions League debut in the semi-final first leg against holders Real Madrid at the start of May, but it was a decision that was soon vindicated following his display.
Not only did the Sanremo-born star help nullify the Los Blancos midfield during the encounter in Turin, but he also performed a goal-saving challenge on James Rodriguez that prevented the visitors from going in front at a crucial time.
“I knew that I would have been playing a few days earlier, when we started preparing for the game, but the boss didn’t say anything to me in particular. He brought me here because he knows what I can offer and I didn’t need much geeing up."
Reflecting on the tackle, he added: “The block was just a coincidence, it was down to luck. I saw him get in behind and tried desperately to get a challenge in."