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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

JUVENTUS

Juventus need luck after last four draw: Marotta

Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta says the Italian champions will need luck to make the Champions League final after coming up against three "powerhouses" in Friday's last four draw.

Juventus need luck after last four draw: Marotta
Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta says the Italian champions will need luck to make the Champions League final. Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP

Juventus qualified for the semi-finals for the first time in over a decade on Wednesday thanks to a 1-0 aggregate win over Monaco following a scoreless second leg in the principality.

The Turin giants are now in the hat alongside defending champions Real Madrid, their fellow Spanish giants Barcelona and Bayern Munich – all of whom have won the title once each in the past four years.

On paper, the odds are stacked against Juventus reaching their first final since 2003 when they succumbed to AC Milan after a penalty shoot-out at Old Trafford.

Marotta, speaking to Sky Sport, said: "There are three powerhouses in there with us but we'll give it our best shot, aware of the fact that they are on a different technical and financial level to us.

"We're fourth favourites in that sense but you never know.

"We have to see the scudetto and the Italian Cup as our real targets. In the Champions League we must be realistic and recognize that there are different values in play, but with a spot of luck who knows."

Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci, meanwhile, said the Turin giants have to believe they are capable of making it to the final.

"This is where it starts to get interesting and we have to keep dreaming," he said.

"Obviously there are three top teams in the semis but Juve are capable of matching them.

"Bayern went and crushed Porto after losing the first leg. They're a magnificent side but they haven't become that overnight.

"Then of course Barcelona and Real Madrid are two of the biggest sides in European football as well.

"Whoever we get, we'll make sure we're totally focused on the task and put on our best display."

Juve's quarter-final feat came in the absence of influential French midfielder Paul Pogba, who limped out of the 3-0 last 16, second leg win over Borussia Dortmund with a hamstring injury.

But although he is set to be sidelined for a further three weeks, Marotta said Pogba could return sooner than expected.

"The doctors say he'll be ready in around three weeks but he's young and may be able to recover more quickly than other players," he added.

Juventus face city rivals Torino in the Derby della Mole on Sunday as they close in on another Serie A title.

The reigning champions hold a 15-point lead on both Lazio and Roma with seven games remaining, and hold head-to-head tiebreakers on both, so could win the league this weekend if results go their way.

Juve will also face Lazio in the Italian Cup final in Rome on June 7th.

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JUVENTUS

Five reasons why Juventus have won their eighth straight Serie A title

Italian giants Juventus claimed an eighth consecutive Serie A title on Saturday after a 2-1 win at home against Fiorentina.Here are five factors that helped the Turin giants lift a 35th Scudetto with five matches to spare, equalling the record for the earliest any team has won Serie A:

Five reasons why Juventus have won their eighth straight Serie A title
Photos: AFP

Ronaldo effect

Cristiano Ronaldo was signed from Real Madrid for 100 million euros ($112 million) before the start of the season, in a bid to end the Turin giants' 23-year wait for the Champions League trophy.

The 34-year-old left Real as their all-time top scorer, a record he also holds in the Champions League where he is the only player to have won five titles.

Despite their European exit to Ajax, the Portuguese superstar was a key player throughout the campaign with 19 league goals.

Both Juventus' Serie A defeats came in his absence — 2-0 to Genoa on March 17 and 2-1 to SPAL on April 13 — the latter frustrating their bid to wrap up the title with a record six games to spare.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who was defended by Juve last year after being accused of rape, was slow off the mark, having to wait until their fourth game against Sassuolo before scoring a double in a 2-1 win.

“Cristiano is the future of Juventus, he has had an extraordinary season,” said coach Massimiliano Allegri after the Champions League loss.

Rising star Kean

Teenage sensation Moise Kean burst through during Ronaldo's absence through injury, scoring six goals in the last seven matches for Juventus, having played just nine this season.

The 19-year-old, who provides an alternative to Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala up front, admitted: “I learn from Cristiano Ronaldo in training, I steal his secrets.”

Born in Italy to Ivorian parents, his first league appearance this season was just four minutes away against Fiorentina on December 1, with his first goals a double in a 4-1 win over Udinese on March 3.

Controversy overshadowed his only full match for the champions when he was subjected to racist abuse against Cagliari on April 2.

The youngster hit back by scoring in Sardinia and again in the following game against SPAL.

Bonucci back

Leonardo Bonucci returned to Turin after an unhappy season at AC Milan to recreate the so-called 'BBC' defensive partnership alongside veterans Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli.

The absence of the trio through injury was felt when Juventus conceded six goals in two games including a 3-3 draw with Parma on February 2 — days after being eliminated from the Coppa Italia.

“Mr Bonucci and Mr Chiellini could teach lessons at Harvard University about how to be a central defender,” said Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho.

Juventus have conceded only 23 goals in 33 games, the best record in the division.

Safe hands

Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has proven to be a worthy successor to Juventus and Italy icon Gianluigi Buffon, who left for Paris Saint-Germain.

The ex-Arsenal player arrived in Turin in 2017 after falling down the pecking order at the Premier league club.

The 28-year-old got off to a stuttering start in the season opener, conceding two goals in a 3-2 win at Chievo, but has conceded only 15 goals in the 24 times he has played so far this season.

New arrival Mattia Perin, who joined from Genoa last summer, has proved less effective with eight conceded in nine games, and was between the posts for both their league defeats.

Winning ugly

Massimiliano Allegri doesn't mind winning ugly as he claimed his fifth league title in as many years with Juventus, and sixth in Serie A after leading AC Milan to their last title in 2011.

Allegri — who has now won 11 trophies with Juventus — has strenuously defended his team's often-criticised style of play, despite Juve leading the way in the Italian top flight with 67 goals scored.

“Beautiful football doesn't pay off, at the end of the day you've got to just kick it away from your goal,” the 51-year-old fumed after the draw with Parma.

“They need to realise there is no shame in hoofing the ball into the stands if needs be.”

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