“This time we have to lay our hands on the trophy,” Massimiliano Allegri told UEFA.com, the Juventus coach certain that his side have taken a step up since losing the 2015 final to Barcelona.
Massimiliano Allegri was in charge of Juventus when they lost 3-1 to Barcelona in the 2015 UEFA Champions League final and – as he told UEFA.com – he is determined that his players will not pick up more runners-up medals against Real Madrid in this season’s decider.
Madrid have a lot of strengths. They’re an extraordinary side with great technique and pace. They’re used to playing in these kinds of games, so it will be a great final. We should be very pleased that we’ve made it this far, but we’re going into this year with a completely different level of belief than in 2015.
I don’t know where it will be won and lost, because finals are decided by individual episodes. After 20 minutes against Barcelona in 2015, we thought we’d lost it and then after drawing level we thought we’d won it, but ultimately we ended up losing it. It will be an extremely long and fascinating 95 minutes – or maybe 120 minutes.
Compared with the 2015 final in Berlin, our squad has changed in almost every position. Only four or five players are still here. Our confidence has increased, our awareness of our own ability has gone up, the atmosphere has improved.
We have raised the bar after winning the Scudetto five times in a row, reaching the Champions League final, winning the Coppa Italia twice and the Supercoppa. This team needs to constantly set the bar even higher and go after an even bigger target.
The 4-2-3-1 formation came to me the moment I realised our team wouldn’t progress any further if we kept the old tactics and formation. I assessed our players’ strengths and I tried to put them on the pitch in their favourite positions – and I also tried to encourage our attacking skills.
It had a lot of beneficial effects: our players enjoyed themselves a lot more on the pitch and they showed a very good willingness to give their all for the sake of the team – which in the end is what makes the difference. Having a lot of attacking players on the field and a good balance at the back is the foundation of victory.
What has helped us to do so well this season? First of all, competing with two great teams in Serie A in Roma and Napoli. That spurred us on and helped us to get to the Champions League final because we had to be really careful, committed and focussed in every single match. When you don’t keep your concentration levels high, you can get distracted for a short time and end up losing matches and tournaments.
Have we learned anything from losing in the 2015 final? You learn something every day, never mind in a Champions League final! Only a few people get to lift this trophy. It’s not something that happens every year. In the last three years, we’ve played in one final and this will be our second one. But this time we have to lay our hands on the trophy.