Bayern boss impressed by ‘creative’ Italian rivals

Juve manager Conte maintains his side are underdogs ahead of Champions League quarter-final first leg

Bayern Munich's coach Jupp Heynckes at a news conference in Munich yesterday. His side  will contest the first leg of their  Champions League quarter-final with  Juventus in Turin tonight.  Photograph: Michael Dalder/Reuters

Bayern Munich's coach Jupp Heynckes at a news conference in Munich yesterday. His side will contest the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Juventus in Turin tonight. Photograph: Michael Dalder/Reuters

Tue, Apr 2, 2013, 01:02

The Juventus side preparing for the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in seven years is a far cry from the Italian stereotype of ruthless defence and gamesmanship, according to their rival coach.

Bayern Munich’s Jupp Heynckes has spent days and nights studying his opponents ahead tonight’s ’s first leg and has been hugely impressed by what he has seen.

“Juventus are not just catenaccio ,” he told a news conference. “They are an excellent team with the necessary imagination and creativity. In some ways, they are a typical Italian team but, on the other hand, they have great attacking quality with outstanding midfielders such as Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vida and Claudio Marchisio.”

Heynckes said Bayern’s Turin opponents are well organised tactically and alluded to the harmony in the team, body language of the players and how good they are at pressing, which is very important in the modern game.

Juventus are twice European champions and are Italy’s most successful team with 28 Serie A titles, but were badly affected by the match-fixing scandal which led to them bring stripped of the 2005 and 2006 titles and relegated to the second tier.

Although back at the first attempt, they struggled to rebuild until former midfielder Antonio Conte took over as coach last season and led them to the Serie A title at the first attempt.

Back in the Champions League quarter-finals after a seven-year wait, they still do not have the financial firepower of their Bavarian rivals or Spanish pair Real Madrid and Barcelona. And Conte continued to insist yesterday that they were underdogs.

Underdogs
“We know we’re outsiders and that we’re up against one of the main contenders,” said Conte, whose side have won their last five games in the competition without conceding a goal and eliminated champions Chelsea.

“This is a chance for us to pit ourselves against the best and see how far we still have to go.”

Facing a side who hit nine goals past Hamburg SV on Saturday, he said: “We will not be the sacrificial lambs. We have deserved to get this far and we will play our football and see how much is still lacking.”