TURIN, Italy – Veteran Italian coach Marcello Lippi confirmed on Monday that the Serie A giant Juventus still has chances to advance through the UEFA Champions league knockout stages, praising its spirit and drive.
Juventus is set to host Atletico on Tuesday in the second leg of the last-16 round, as the Spanish club has claimed a 2-0 victory in the first leg held at Wanda Metropolitano stadium on Feb. 20.
“Juventus never die,” Lippi was quoted as saying by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. “Who think the team is out (of the competition), do not know it. Juventus is somehow immortal, especially when it is hurt.”
The 70-year-old coach, who was the 2006 FIFA World Cup champion with Italy and the 1995/1996 UCL winner with Juve, explained that the players of Juventus and its current manager, Massimiliano Allegri, have the character to achieve a comeback and qualify for the next round.
“It is important to remain calm before judging (Juventus’ season), and let’s see how it ends,” Lippi added. “Juventus does not have seven lives, but seventy.”
“It is a team of veteran players; and they all know how to deal with suffering time. They need to remain focused and be patients, and then the goals will come,” the coach stressed.
Lippi referred to last season’s quarterfinals tie when Juventus has been handed a 3-0 defeat by Real Madrid at its home-ground, Allianz Stadium, but the Serie A side managed to claim a 3-1 win over the Spanish team in Madrid.
“The best teams in Europe play in the Champions League,” he said. “If just one detail is missing; then you are out. It also takes a bit of luck, which Juventus did not have many times, but let no one forget what it has done last year at the (Santiago) Bernabeu. Atletico realizes this as well.”
Lippi also defended Allegri, who won the Seria A and Coppa Italia in the last four years in a row and lost two UCL finals within the same period, however he is facing criticism from fans for the play-style of the team.
“Is it a joke?” Lippi wondered. “Winning is an excellent way to play well, everything else is useless talks,” he stated.
Lippi is free now after parting company with China national team that has been knocked out from the 2019 AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals at the hands of Iran.
During the course of his coaching career, Lippi managed to lead Juventus to a historical comeback in the 2002/2003 UCL semis, as the Italian team won 3-1 over Real Madrid in the second leg held in Turin, after conceding a 2-1 defeat by the La Liga side in the first leg held in the Spanish capital.
Juventus, however, lost the final to its fellow Italian giant, AC Milan, on the penalty shootouts, as the scoreless deadlock reigned in the regular and extra times.