Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini says his side is eager to step into the Santiago Bernabeu stadium and play the club’s “most prestigious and important” match of the last 12 years in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final return leg against Real Madrid.
A steady run to the competition’s final four and last week’s 2-1 first-leg victory over Real mean Juventus have high hopes of reaching June’s final act in Berlin. But the defender says there’s a long way to go until supporters can start booking their flights to the German capital.
“We can’t wait for Wednesday evening to come. This is the most prestigious and important game I’ll be playing in since I joined the club. I’ve been here for ten years and 12 have gone past since we last reached a semi-final,” Chiellini told Juventus website on Monday night.
“We’ve got better and matured as the competition’s worn on and getting past the last 16 and then the quarter-finals gave us added awareness in our own abilities,” the 30-year-old said.
“We’ve never been as close as we are now, but we’ve still got 95 really tough minutes to get through. The final’s still a long way away and we’ll need a super performance to get there,” the Juventus vice-captain said.
One of Juventus’ aims will be to silence a vociferous 80,000 capacity crowd in Madrid, with Chiellini looking to draw inspiration from his previous victorious experience at the famous venue.
“The entire stadium will be right behind them and we’ll have to try and put them under pressure. They are, however, experienced internationals who certainly won’t be intimidated by the odd whistle by their own fans.
‘We know that we can’t park the bus and try to keep it goalless, but we need to do well when covering and breaking out from the back.
“I’ve played at the Bernabeu twice and we hope it doesn’t end like last year, when we lost and I was sent off, but instead like the first game, when we won thanks to (Alessandro) Del Piero’s double,” Chiellini, who represented Italy in the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, said.