Tonight, Juventus will host Barcelona in Turin for the second matchday of the Champions League group stages. With both teams having won their first clash in Europe, they are looking to take control of the table by beating their biggest rival.
For Miralem Pjanić, however, this will be more than a big clash. After all, he will potentially face his former team should Ronald Koeman choose to give him a shot. Needless to say, he is excited about it, as he told the press ahead of the clash.
“I am looking forward to this match with a lot of enthusiasm, for all the people I know and I appreciate here at Juventus, but now I am a Barça player.”
The Bosnian midfielder has mostly been among the substitutes but he is ready to give his all, both in training and in games. Of course, with the coach mostly electing to field two midfielders, it was tough to get a spot in the gala XI.
“I’m at a big club and it’s normal that there is competition. We can also play three in the midfield, but that depends on the coach. All I can do is train hard.”
“It’s a new system and I have to adapt to it. I’ve also changed leagues, it’s a new country. I’ll do my best to help my team, like I did at Juve.”
Of course, Barcelona’s start to the season was rocky, to say the least. However, the campaign is long and the team is improving.
“The team has the quality to be successful. In the league we are not where we want to be but the season is a long one.”
Pjanić also had to comment on both Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann, players who will definitely be in the spotlight in Turin.
“Messi is the best of all time and it is a privilege to play alongside him. It’s a unique chance to have played alongside Messi and Cristiano.”
“Griezmann is a goalscorer and a great player and I am sure he will play well in the next few games. When he start to score goals, he will be vitally important for the team.”
Finally, a couple of words on Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus and the fact that Barcelona will once again play in an empty stadium.
“They are a very strong team so it will be a difficult game but our objective is to be at our best to pick up all three points.”
“I know Juventus very well and I am waiting excitedly for the game. We would like to play in front of the fans. Let’s hope we can overcome the current situation as quickly as possible.”
Barça midfielder Aleña speaks following his first start in nearly a year
Carles Aleña started his first game for Barça in nearly a year. His last start for his boyhood club came in December 2019 against Inter Milan, and Ronald Koeman selected him against Dynamo Kyiv after injuries decimated his squad. After his impressive display, Aleña spoke to the media.
“I’m very happy to return to the field. We played a great game and we took advantage of our chances.”Carles Aleña | Post-match press conference
Aleña ended his ordeal with a near-Man of the Match performance away to the Ukrainians. The Spanish youngster was his team’s metronome and misplaced one solitary pass. His pass map is a joy to behold and the midfielder deserves a lot of recognition for that display.
📸 — Aleñá’s pass map against Kyiv tonight.— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) November 24, 2020
Not a back-passer at all. pic.twitter.com/Ah5QrsgW3N
At the beginning of the year, Ronald Koeman did not fancy Aleña at all. He and Riqui Puig were ostracised, but the two of them showed a lot of resilience against Kyiv. Hopefully, their coach opens his eyes.
“Playing with the first team requires a lot of hard work.”Carles Aleña | Post-match press conference
We will have to wait and see whether Koeman is on the same page with the fans regarding Aleña’s performance. One thing is clear: the 22-year-old can play a crucial role in the team if used correctly.