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Insight: Juve’s ‘BBC’ face uphill task against Real counterparts

Insight: Juve’s ‘BBC’ face uphill task against Real counterparts

Carlo Ancelotti would be licking his lips at the prospect of fielding Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo against Juventus as Real Madrid look to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit in the return leg of their Champions League semi-final tie on Wednesday.

Real’s attacking trio are widely termed as BBC in Spanish media but they face their Italian namesakes — Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini — willing to put everything on the line to ensure Juve advance to their first final of Europe’s premier club competition since 2003.

“Getting to the final would be fantastic for us, especially because so few thought we would make it this far,” Barzagli told the club website after their 1-1 draw against Cagliari in Serie A on Saturday. “But we’re here and dreams are great, so let’s hope they come true.”

With the Turin giants defending an advantage at the Santiago Bernabeu, coach Massimiliano Allegri is likely to field the defensive trio which has also been the mainstay of the Italian national team since 2012 and the Juve side which has won four successive Serie A titles — having already wrapped up this year’s domestic title last weekend.

Barzagli came on as a substitute in last week’s first leg in Turin but is very likely to start in the Spanish capital, adding steel to the Juve back-line as they look to contain Real’s fast forwards.

Bonucci is an elegant ball-playing defender, one who doesn’t shy away from a tackle and pops in with crucial goals from set-pieces with his superb aerial ability.

Chiellini is an embodiment of the spirit running through Juve’s veins this season as they look to overcome years of Champions League anguish. A no-nonsense defender, he was battered and bloodied in the first leg against Real, ending the game with a bandage wrapped around his head.

With the trio at the back, Allegri is likely to field a 5-3-2 formation with attacking wing-backs Stephan Lichtsteiner and Patrice Evra assisting the midfield and attack with their runs and crosses and Chiellini agrees Juve can’t afford to keep defending for the length of the match.

“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,” he told Sky Italia in an interview on Monday.

Striker Alvaro Morata, who joined Juve from Real in the summer, and Carlos Tevez got the goals in the first leg and Bonucci is banking on the former Real man on delivering the goods when he makes his return to the Bernabeu and give them a vital away goal.

Morata played against Juve when the two teams met in the group stages last season. While Juve crashed out in the preliminary stages, Morata and Real went on to win the Champions League.

“A year ago against, now together,” Bonucci wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, referring to Morata to which the young Spaniard replied, “Together, to win”.

Morata’s former strike partner Benzema returned from injury during the La Liga match against Valencia on Saturday but was on the bench in the 2-2 draw which saw Real’s title hopes dented as they fell four points behind Barcelona with two matches of the season left to play.

He did, however, train on Tuesday and Real manager Ancelotti will hope the Frenchman returns to form his deadly ‘BBC’ alongside Bale and Ronaldo as they look to become the first side to win back-to-back Champions League titles.

But breaking down Juve’s ‘BBC’ won’t be easy.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2015

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