Alessandro Del Piero has urged Juventus fans to get behind their team, stating that a "special atmosphere in the ground is crucial" if the Bianconeri are to oust Chelsea FC and earn a place in the quarter-finals.
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Alessandro Del Piero has urged the Juventus fans to get behind the team on Tuesday as he believes the "special atmosphere" of the Stadio Olimpico can help his side overcome Chelsea FC and earn a UEFA Champions League quarter-final place.
Del Piero says the Bianconeri are focused and determined to rise to the challenge of overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit from Stamford Bridge, adding that their cause can be significantly aided by passionate home support. The Stadio Olimpico is sold out for the visit of last year's losing finalists – potentially a crucial factor in smoothing Juventus's passage to the last eight according to the captain.
"These last few days have been intense," he said. "We've all been looking forward to the Chelsea game with great enthusiasm and we'll need to play the perfect match. We will need to push ourselves to the maximum and we will also need the crowd to get behind us. In the first leg they played well and got the win, but we played pretty well and lost, so we will need to turn those two things around. But a special atmosphere in the ground is crucial."
Del Piero has played in no fewer than 86 UEFA Champions League ties in his glittering career and is eager to help his team recover from a first-leg reverse for the fifth time in nine attempts since 1992. 'Pinturicchio' remembers well three of those comebacks, in 1995/96, 2002/03 and 2004/05 – each against Real Madrid CF – and hopes to revive that spirit against Chelsea. "Every different era in your career provides its own memorable moments. We had the right stuff to come back from adversity on those occasions and we want that to be the case again.
"The team spirit we must show will be essential. We must be united. We will have to keep possession, not concede too much space, and try to score whenever we can by playing with intelligence. The first-leg result was negative but not disastrous. To get back in the tie we need to show character. We must show heart, will to win, enthusiasm and the desire to come out on top." But the 34-year-old Italy playmaker is aware how difficult it is has become to face Premier League clubs.
"Over the last few years there has been a sea change in English football. They have invested a great deal, not just in financial terms, but also in hiring quality players and great coaches from abroad who have managed to find the right mix of foreign talent to complement the strength of the English game. Whereas before English clubs were very strong in certain areas, now they have all bases covered and, in some cases, have created the complete side." For Del Piero, however, that does not make English success a foregone conclusion. "We'll have to wait and see whether they are still on top in the next few days."