Pirlo urges patience as Juve's Champions League dream hangs by a thread

By Sports Desk March 08, 2021

Andrea Pirlo wants his Juventus side to be "clever" and "patient" as they seek to overcome a slender deficit against Porto and claim a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Mehdi Taremi and Moussa Marega caught Juve cold at the start of each half at Estadio do Dragao last month.

Federico Chiesa reduced the arrears late on, although the fact that was the first time Porto had conceded in six Champions League matches underlined the scale of the task still to come in Turin on Tuesday.

"The result is open, we will have to be clever in knowing how to manage the match to obtain qualification," Pirlo told a pre-match news conference.

"It is a decisive match for our Champions League campaign."

 "We will have to play a very technical game, because we will face a very compact team, with two very narrow lines and with little space and little time to think.

"It will take technique and patience."

Juventus' domestic dominance over the past decade has not translated onto the European stage, with final defeats in 2015 and 2017 to Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively proving tough to take.

Pirlo made his final Juve appearance as a player in the former showpiece, as goals from Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar saw Barca run out 3-1 winners in Berlin.

"We know the importance and the beauty of playing in the Champions League," he said.

"When you can play these games there is a totally different energy, but it must be faced just like all other important games."

Juventus captain Leonardo Bonucci echoed his boss' sentiments.

"We must be careful not to get caught up in the desire to score immediately at all costs," he said.

"We expect a Porto side that will come here to play, not to defend."

The Serie A champions would be even more up against it had Chiesa not continued an impressive individual season by getting on the scoresheet.

Italy winger Chiesa has scored nine goals and chipped in with seven assists across all competitions this season.

His 40 chances created are second only to Alvaro Morata (44) among Juventus' forwards, while his 19.6 per cent shot conversion rate is slightly better than Cristiano Ronaldo's (18.2), even though the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is once again riding high with 27 goals in the 2020-21 campaign.

"He doesn't allow himself to be influenced by pressure, he is very genuine and spontaneous, and quickly understood what it means to wear this shirt," Bonucci said of the 23-year-old Chiesa. "He's giving us so much."

Bonucci could be joined in defence by his long-time colleague Giorgio Chiellini, who has recovered from a calf problem to slightly mitigate Mathijis de Ligt's absence due to muscular injuries.

Pirlo expects Weston McKinnie to be involved despite managing a hip problem, although the USA international will not be fit enough for the entire match.

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