Federico Bernardeschi said Juventus’ Champions League tie with Tottenham Hotspur is far from over despite his side relinquishing a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at the Allianz Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Italian champions must win in London on March 7 or draw 2-2 to force extra time and possibly penalties. A draw with more goals would see them progress, but defeat or a 0-0 or 1-1 draw would send last year’s finalists out.
Bernardeschi nevertheless believes the tie still has legs and insists Juve will head to Wembley Stadium in a confident mood.
“We played a great game against strong opponents and it’s a pity we only drew, but there is still a second leg and we go there knowing that we can still win,” Bernardeschi told Mediaset. “It was only natural that we would suffer after going 2-0 up. We were never going to be able to keep that rhythm up for the whole game and we knew they would have to come at us too.
“You have to suffer from time to time, but we did well and had intensity. It’s a pity we conceded the 2-2, which we didn’t deserve, but we’re confident for the return leg.”
Gonzalo Higuain is also convinced that Juve will finish the job in London, and he has hit back at critics following a penalty miss that could prove costly to the Serie A club.
Higuain gave Juve their two-goal lead with two goals in the first nine minutes of the game, but he then struck a low shot just inches wide of Hugo Lloris’ post as Juve almost went 3-0 ahead.
He then hit the crossbar with a penalty on the stroke of half-time that could have given Juve a 3-1 lead.
Rather than scoring four and being hailed as the hero, Higuain’s brace was barely mentioned by the Italian media — which drew criticism from coach Massimiliano Allegri — and the focus was instead placed on Juve’s failure to hold onto or build upon their advantage, thus compromising their hopes of reaching the quarterfinals.
“Good morning to everybody,” Higuain wrote on his Instagram account. “It’s easy to talk after the game from the comfort of a sofa or chair. Up to 2-0, everything was perfect but after 2-2 the judgement changes quickly.
“We’re not interested in these voices. We’re going to London to get through. A hug to all those who really have Juventus’ best interests at heart.”
Juve will face Torino, Atalanta and Lazio in Serie A prior to the second leg against Tottenham and will also face Atalanta in the second leg of their Coppa Italia semifinal, in which they hold a 1-0 lead.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.