Juventus’ closest journalist gave their fans a preview of what The Old Lady can expect next week. Apparently, Juve were lucky drawing Celtic, who are not the same as the team who beat them 4-3 11 seasons ago (but didn’t qualify for the knock out stage).
The outcome of the second leg is a formality, but Celtic Park has them spooked:
“Juventus got a benign [Champions League] draw, even lucky.
“The Bhoys are not the same team who beat Juventus 4-3 a few years ago. They have a few gems, like [Tony] Watt, but bet everything on physical and dead-ball football. Celtic Park is absolutely extraordinary, it goes beyond what you can write, read or tell. What you see on television is not even the smallest part of what you endure in the flesh, 60,000 people do not offend you but make you know you are in the enemy camp.
“The Park is one of the most influential and dangerous stages in the world. It has everything to challenge you, to induce the classic ‘bad day’, to give you stomach cramps and the need to get out as soon as possible. The fact Celtic beat Barcelona there was not random.
“Common sense suggests Celtic cannot beat Barcelona but football said different. They did with merit, playing beyond their means and with a little luck. This is what Juventus will need to be wary of.
“Antonio Conte will hammer into his players not to underestimate their opponents, but for once it is not the team, it’s the stadium the need to worry about.
“Forget folklore images of children wearing green and white scarves, or of fans coming out of Scottish pubs and going to the game by finishing a beer and ordering another. Don’t let the chorus of ‘You’ll never walk alone’ charm you if you have not heard it with your own ears. To watch from your HD TV is one thing, be there for 90 minutes, start to finish, ever if you’re winning, is different.
“Celtic are different than usual teams. Juventus fans, if they behave the way they should and live this adventure the right way, will have a great experience. The Juventus Stadium can be a bit like Celtic Park. We Italians miss their culture, their history, their being able to accept any defeat and celebrate every possible outcome, accepting any opponent. Their team will be sacred of Juventus but their stadium and fans will not say the same thing.”
We’ll play our part on Tuesday but I am sure Neil Lennon and his players will be pleased to hear they are considered something of a sideshow. The victory over Barcelona was a magnificent but it was achieved as a result of a tactical master-plan, nothing less. It’s the men in green and white hoops Juve need to watch.
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