Football

I won’t be judged on Porto result: Juve coach Pirlo

Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo does not believe his job will be at risk should his side fail to overturn a 2-1 deficit in their Champions League last 16, second-leg clash with Porto on Wednesday morning (March 10, Singapore time).

Juve, chasing a 10th straight Serie A title, have struggled to reach the heights of previous campaigns and sit third in the domestic league table, seven points behind leaders Inter Milan.

After sailing through their Champions League group, Juventus were below par in their loss in Porto on Feb 17, putting the pressure on for the return clash at the Juventus Stadium, but Pirlo is relaxed about the ramifications of any potential exit from Europe.

“I don’t think tomorrow’s game will change the judgment on my work,” Pirlo told a news conference on Monday.

“I continue to work day after day knowing what my project is all about and where the club are at. Tomorrow is a decisive match for our path in the Champions League. For us, it is as if it were a final but it will be for them too.

“There will be little space... so it will take a lot of technique, patience. We must not be in a hurry to break through centrally but make them turn quickly from one side to the other.”

There is plenty of hope for the Turin giants that they can overturn the deficit, given that Porto have failed to win in their previous 13 away games in the Champions League knockout stages.

Pirlo was also handed a fitness boost ahead of kick-off, with central defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Matthijs de Ligt both in the running to play against the Portuguese side.

“Chiellini is quite well. He trained only today with the rest of the team after three weeks off,”  the Italian said.

“He’s not at his best, but he can be available. Today they all trained in a group. De Ligt warmed up with the team and could be in with a chance of playing.” – REUTERS

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