Juventus manager Antonio Conte is refusing to take anything for granted, despite his side carrying a 3-0 lead into the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Celtic in Turin.
The Italian champions produced a textbook and clinical away European performance in Glasgow three weeks ago—scoring early before striking two late goals to seemingly extinguish Celtic’s hopes. But Conte is cautious to avoid a backlash from a wounded animal.
“Nobody is underestimating the importance of this game—a team qualifies over 180 minutes and we've only played 90, so we have another 90, plus maybe extra time and penalties, against a strong proud team who will want to make amends for the first leg,” he said according to UEFA’s official website.
Conte’s outward caution is understandable, but Celtic boss Neil Lennon is not counting on any miraculous comebacks. Lennon is, though, keen for his side to give a good account of themselves in such a prestigious European arena.
“You can't come to Turin and expect to win 4-1 or 4-0, but we're capable of winning the game and that's what we'd like to do,” he explained. “If we can create as many chances as at Celtic Park, it should be a good night.
“We may not be here again as a group. We're playing the champions of Italy, so I'll tell the players to enjoy it, enjoy the stadium, the atmosphere, don't be intimidated. The pressure is off so we should try to restore some respectability.”
Celtic secured a place in the Scottish Cup semifinals with a 2-1 win over St. Mirren at the weekend and are 16 points clear in the Scottish Premier League, despite a recent defeat to Motherwell. Lennon will be without Scott Brown, Mikael Lustig and Tony Watt for the trip to Italy.
Juventus, meanwhile, maintained their six point lead atop Serie A last Friday as they drew 1-1 with second-placed Napoli. Martin Caceres and Nicolas Anelka are likely to miss out through injury, while Paolo de Ceglie remains on the sidelines.
D: Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini
M: Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah
F: Vucinic, Matri
D: Matthews, Ambrose, Wilson, Izaguirre
M: Forrest, Commons, Wanyama, Brown, Samaras
Prediction: It is difficult to imagine the second leg of this tie being anything other than a formality. To have had any chance in Turin, Celtic realistically needed to build a lead in front of their impassioned home support. But Juventus showed merciless efficiency and they should contain what might be an initial rampage from Celtic early on in the second leg before once again carving them open for a comfortable victory.
Juventus 2-0 Celtic
Where to watch: The second leg of the Champions League round-of-16 tie will kick-off at the Juventus Stadium at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Soccer Plus, with a live stream available via Fox Soccer 2Go.