20.04.2017 18:20 - in: UCL S

      Bonucci: "We are UCL contenders"

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      Leonardo Bonucci warns that Juventus' season begins here: "We can win it all if we keep this level of focus right until the end"
      Leonardo Bonucci

      Beating Barça a statement

      "What we achieved last night was a statement of intent, both on behalf of the team as a whole and all of us as individuals.

      "Reaching the semi-finals has given us even greater confidence and awareness of our abilities. To play that well for 180 minutes against Barcelona without ever really being in trouble on the night means that from today we have every right to dream of going all the way and winning the Champions League."

      Juve: among Europe's best

      “We’ve arrived at a critical stage of the season where any mistake could cost us dearly. The Champions League semi-finalists have all got this far for a reason: they have been the best four teams in Europe this term and now it is up to us to show just how much we want to be in the final.

      “Knocking out Barcelona should mark just the beginning for us." 

      Which game was bigger: at the Stadium or Camp Nou?

      “It took 180 minutes of perfection to get us to this point; we were superb going forward in the first 45 minutes at Juventus Stadium and that ultimately is what made the difference.

      "That gave us the belief to go to Barcelona and play the game we wanted to, giving very little away at the back while creating a few chances of our own at the other end.

      “Maybe we lacked a little bit of composure in the final third but that shouldn’t take anything away from the fact that Juventus produced a fantastic performance.”

      Can Juventus win the Champions League? 

      “From today, it is time to believe it. We have a huge chance to get to Cardiff and then lift the trophy but from here on out, the mental side of the game will be more important than ever; we need to keep our feet on the ground, stand together and keep powering forwards." 

      "If we meet Barça, we WILL knock them out!"

      “I was in the video room in Vinovo where the opposition scouting videos are edited and I was to one side away from the rest of the squad. I recorded that video confident in the words that I was saying because this Barcelona isn’t the one we saw a few years ago while we have grown immensely in the same period.

      “My words have come true! I have already made my own prediction for what will happen in the semi-finals but I’m ging to keep it a secret, like I did for Barça…”

      Ronaldo, Mbappé, Griezmann.

      “Everyone knows about Cristiano Ronaldo: he has been facing off with Messi for the Ballon d’Or every year and he has proven that he is one of the best players in the world.

      "Mbappé is the surprise package in that list of names; he has scored lots of goals for a team that are in great form and enter every game believing they can win. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t go on to become one of the best strikers in Europe in the next few years.

      "Antoine Griezmann is another fabulous player who has taken his game to the next level under the guidance of Simeone; he is one of a select group of players that change matches singlehandedly in the Champions League." 

      The best defence in Europe?

      “Saying we have the best defence can be a bit limiting because it is the pressing and harrying of our forwards that gives us the time to read the play and organize ourselves at the back when we come under pressure. We know that in order to get where we want to be, we need to be flawless at both ends of the field.

      “We don’t have a secret but I would say that our set-pieces have made a world of difference this season. They are one of a few marginal gains that have allowed us to dream of the treble.

      Swapping jerseys with Messi 

      “I was so keen to add Messi’s jersey to my personal collection; I’m sure it will go down very well with my son, Lorenzo who is mad about football.

      "I enjoyed watching the clips back with Chiellini this morning; throughout the game we were reassuring each other, keeping each other focused, pushing each other even to keep our focus high right until the end, that’s probably why he gave me a thump for approaching Messi with seconds left on the clock.”


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