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17th Apr 2017

Juve’s Giorgio Chiellini likens Barcelona players to sharks ahead of Juve’s Nou Camp meeting

No, not like that...


In normal circumstances, you wouldn’t hold out much hope of a team overturning a 3-0 first leg deficit in a Champions League quarter final.

However, recent history has told us that if any team is capable of digging themselves out of such a hole, it’s Barcelona. Four down to Paris Saint-Germain when they kicked off their last 16 second leg in the Nou Camp a few weeks back, Luis Enrique’s side somehow found a way to overcome the French champions – even after Edinson Cavani’s away goal had seemingly extinguished their fightback.

Although this time they’re only trailing by three goals as they welcome Juventus on Wednesday, few are expecting Barca to produce another miraculous turnaround (ain’t that right, Roy?). As you’d expect from a team that’s dominated the Italian top flight for the last few years, Juve know a thing or two about defending.

Still, Giorgio Chiellini – a man that’s played a key part in Juve’s defensive solidarity over recent years – is not taking anything for granted.

Ahead of the second leg, he spoke to Juve’s official website about their trip to Barcelona and warned that progress to the semi-finals was far from guaranteed. In particular, he praised Barca’s attacking players – claiming Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez were all in the top five strikers in world football.

Suarez and Chiellini do of course have a little bit of history. At the last World Cup, a late goal from Uruguay’s Diego Godín was enough to make sure that Italy didn’t make it out of the group stages. In the same game, Suarez appeared to bite Chiellini in the game’s closing stages. He later received a nine game international ban for the incident and was then banned from football-related activity for four months.

So, with this in mind, we’re sure you can appreciate the irony of Chiellini likening Suarez to a shark. Admittedly, he doesn’t single out Suarez for such a comparison, using the term to describe Neymar and Messi, too.

“These guys are like sharks,” he said. “If you show a sign of nerves, they smell the blood and finish you off. Instead you have to push them back as far as you can, double up when they are in possession and shut down the lines between defence and midfield.

“If you can escape their press, Barca can struggle with balls over the top into the space behind. Knowing what you need to do though is one thing, producing it when you need to is another thing altogether.”

Catch up with this week’s episode of 888Sport Football Friday Live