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Football | Champions League

Leonardo Bonucci © Action Images

'Pensioner' remark fires up Juve

A throwaway jibe against goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is spurring Juventus as they bid to make club history by overcoming a 2-0 first leg deficit to Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarterfinal.

Juventus qualified for the last eight of Europe's premier club competition last month for the first time since 2006 but the draw was not kind to the Old Lady of Turin.

Bayern, who secured their 23rd German league title on Sunday, were a class above the Bianconeri in Munich last week when goals from David Alaba and Thomas Mueller left Antonio Conte's side with a mountain to climb in Wednesday's second leg.

Alaba's long-range effort after just 25 seconds took a slight deflection on its way to goal, spectacularly wrongfooting Buffon and prompting the German club's honourary president Franz Beckenbauer to compare the 35-year-old veteran to a "pensioner".

Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia in somewhat more diplomatic terms: "We respect his opinion, but this will only serve to motivate both Gigi (Buffon) and Juventus.

"We want a semifinal place and we're going out there to give 100 percent."

If successful, Juventus would create a small piece of history - the Bianconeri have never overcome a 2-0 defeat suffered against opponents in the first-leg of a European Cup or Champions League tie in three previous attempts.

The first two of those defeats came against German opposition, respectively Dynamo Dresden in 1973 and Borussia Moenchengladbach two years later.

On the third occasion, Fabio Capello's Juve side failed to overturn a 2-0 first leg defeat to Arsenal when they played out a goalless draw at the Stadio delle Alpi in 2006.

Despite Juventus's struggle to match Bayern's typically German efficiency last week, former Juve midfielder Alessio Tacchinardi believes the tie is far from over.

"Had they lost 3-0 (in Munich) then it would be far more difficult," Tacchinardi told Tuttosport. "But Juventus won't be lacking desire. A comeback is not impossible."

Juve's task is all the more formidable given that Bayern are one of the favourites for a European trophy they have won four times.

Added to that, they reached the final in both 2010, when they lost to Inter Milan, and 2012, losing to English Premier League side Chelsea on penalties at their home ground.

Bayern remain on course to become the first German team to win the treble of league, Cup and Champions League titles and coach Jupp Heynckes was bullish about their chances.

"We have just successfully completed the first stage, now we want to finish off the job," said Heynckes.

Bayern host Wolfsburg in the last four of the German Cup on April 16 with a place in the Berlin final on June 1 up for grabs.

But Bayern president Uli Hoeness is not concealing where Bayern's main priority lies: "The target is Europe: the German Cup is nice, but we want to win the Champions League."

Juventus will be without Nicolas Anelka for the tie after the rarely-used French striker suffered a calf strain in training on Monday, while doubts remain over the fitness of another forward Sebastian Giovinco.

Giovinco was forced out with a knock to his right knee during Juve's 2-1 win over Serie A strugglers Pescara on Saturday, when fellow striker Mirko Vucinic, who missed the first leg after a recent bout of flu, reassured Conte by scoring both goals.

"It was important to see him back on the scoresheet, especially with Bayern on the horizon," said Conte.

Bayern striker Mario Mandzukic, meanwhile, is available again for selection after he suffered a heavy cold at the weekend.


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