06.12.2015 18:00 - in: UCL S

      Bonucci: "In Seville to win"

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      Leonardo Bonucci reflects on the Bianconeri’s near-perfect November and looks ahead to Tuesday’s Champions League tie with Sevilla. For Leo, only top spot will do…

      Just over a month ago at the end of October, Juventus suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Sassuolo and for some, the title race was already over.

      Fast forward five and a half weeks and the Bianconeri are on a five-match winning run in Serie A and have already qualified for the Champions League knockout stages with a game to spare.

      Such a rapid turnaround was, in the words of Leonardo Bonucci for the Sky and Mediaset cameras, brought about by a little self-reflection and no little determination on the part of himself and his Bianconeri colleagues since that disappointing defeat in Reggio Emilia on October 28.

      The defender began, “We looked at ourselves in the mirror and we all agreed that this couldn’t be the real Juventus that people were seeing on the pitch. We realised that we would only get out of the rut we were in as a team and that there was no longer any time to lose.

      “We put our pride on the shelf and beating Torino in the fashion that we did in the last minute demonstrated that you must fight for every ball right until the final whistle.” 

      October's 2-1 win over rivals Torino was the catalyst for the Bianconeri's five-match winning run

      While Juan Cuadrado’s 93rd minute strike at Juventus Stadium on Halloween night may have been the catalyst for the Old Lady’s return to form, the continuation and consistency of her performances since then have been helped by a defensive solidity and strong team ethic.

      The credit for which, according to Bonucci, is owed to Bianconeri boss Massimiliano Allegri.

      “Our compactness at the back is thanks to the boss as well as the team as a whole for running the hard yards and working for each other. The 3-5-2 formation that we’re using at the moment gives you a defensive base from which to build and that allows our more creative players to attack with confidence at the other end.

      “We’re on a great run but we need to keep our feet on the ground and ensure we continue this winning feeling. There are two league games between now and the winter break and a victory in each of them would stand us in great stead in January when the action kicks off again.” 

      The defender’s words proved to take on an even greater meaning this afternoon in light of former leaders Napoli’s 3-2 defeat to Bologna, a result that sees the gap between the Bianconeri and top spot cut to just six points.

      “Napoli play such an energetic and intensive style which can be difficult to maintain week in week out. Inter (who returned to the Serie A summit following a 1-0 victory over Genoa on Saturday night) have impressed me with their defensive solidity and the fact that they are winning so many games 1-0 is testament to their resilience.” 

      "Sevilla? We have to go there and make sure we focus only on our own game. For a favourable last 16 draw, we need a positive result." 

      Leonardo Bonucci 06/12/2015

      Looking ahead to the aforementioned festive run-in, the Italy international, as you would expect, had eyes only for his side’s next appointment, Tuesday night’s sixth and final Champions League Group D encounter, which sees them travel to Andalusia to face Sevilla.

      “We have to go there and focus only on our own result. Finishing top of the standings could give us a favourable draw in the first knockout round and for that reason we have to come back with a positive result on Tuesday night.

      “In Europe, we’re perhaps not quite at the level of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid but, with a touch of luck, our usual discipline and a few moments of magic from our younger players, we can make our mark on the Champions League again this season.”

      Speaking of youngsters, Bonucci praised the impact of team-mate and Friday’s match-winner Paulo Dybala, avoiding however the inevitable comparisons with compatriot and fellow striker Carlos Tevez.

      “They are very different players when you look at them. Carlos was the focal point of our team, while Paulo is only 22 years of age. He has immense quality and he’ll only continue to blossom if he’s given the space to grow. I have no doubt that he will be a key part of this Juventus side for a long time to come.

      “We’re really lucky to have four strikers with such diverse attributes at our disposal and that gives the boss great flexibility in his team selection. (Mario) Mandzukic and Dybala are in great form at the moment but we’ve also got (Simone) Zaza and (Alvaro) Morata waiting in the wings.

      “We haven’t seen Alvaro at his best yet this season. If it wasn’t for him though, we would not have got to the Champions League final last year. With a bit of calm and with all our support, he will be banging the goals in again soon.”

      And a quick word on Gianluigi Buffon?

      “Buffon is, well, Buffon! He is in stunning form at the moment, helped by the trust that we all have in him. He’s a role model for the entire squad.”

      Rounding off proceedings, Bonucci even took a moment to wish Juventus president Andrea Agnelli a happy 40th birthday.

      “It’s fantastic having such a relatively young man at the top of the club because he is always in touch and he understands us as people. His proximity to the players has always been vital in our lean spells. I wish him a very happy birthday!”

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