Former Tottenham Hotspurs boss André Villas-Boas believes that Juventus will progress over Spurs in the Champions League.
‘La Vecchia Signora’ conceded a 2-0 lead at the Allianz Stadium to Spurs in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 fixture as Maurico Pochettino’s side mounted a 2-2 comeback and could have won the game after a shambolic Juventus performance.
Villas-Boas is currently out of work, having last managed Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG, and the Portugese manager spoke to Corriere dello Sport about the upcoming fixture between Spurs and Juventus.
“Juve have more experience and players who are used to playing these kind matches, now though they have to win or draw 3-3. It’s not an impossible task which awaits them, but nor is it easy because Tottenham are doing well, they play a physical game and can cause anyone problems.
In Turin, Juventus struggled to limit the possession of the ball enjoyed by the English side, with long stretches of the match played in the opposition half. At home they generally suffer less than away, but Wembley is an excellent stadium to try and pull off a feat because there’s no atmosphere, it’s difficult for the fans to put pressure on. It’s not impossible for Juventus, but Tottenham are organised and if they manage to use the ball like they did in Turin they will cause problems.”
Tottenham’s Harry Kane is one of the best strikers in the world and is enjoying another phenomenal season as he has scored 35 goals in 36 games in all competitions – including a goal against Juventus in the first leg.
Villas-Boas was asked about the English international, but appeared to have a slight criticism of his former club.
“He was very young then, and he wasn’t my first choice because I had Soldado and Adebayor. With the directors we agreed it would be best if he went out on loan and played but instead he stayed, so I gave him some chances in the Europa League. I don’t have any credit for his explosion though, the one who really gave him space was my successor, Tim Sherwood.
Real Madrid? It’s up to him. It depends what he wants to do and what his ambitions for his career are. If he’s a fan of trophies and fame then maybe it would be better to leave Tottenham, but if he prefers stability and the adulation of the fans then the speech is different. One or two more years at Spurs would be useful to improve further.”
Villas-Boas was then asked whether Juventus could win the Champions League this season.
“Barcelona seem stronger on paper, even if they’ve lost Neymar, Dembélé is back, then there’s Messi, Suarez and the super-reliable Paulinho. They have the right squad to win the cup, even if Bayern are very strong and Real, if they knock out Paris Saint-Germain, can say it’s theirs.”
The former Chelsea Manager was asked about the Scudetto race as Juventus are one of the two clubs involved alongside Napoli.
“The Scudetto? Napoli play great football and Sarri is very good, I saw the game they lost at home to Leipzig and I couldn’t believe it. If the return leg had been 10 minutes longer though they’d have gone through, because with Insigne, Mertens and Callejon up-front they can hurt anyone. The Italian League is more open and balanced than in the past, but in my opinion it won’t be easy for Napoli.
In China with Shanghai I had to take the title from Guangzhou Evergrande who had won it for many years, but in the end their experience and habit of winning decisive matches counted. The same thing could happen in Serie A in April, and for that reason I see Juventus as favourites.”
Villas-Boas was Jose Mourinho’s Assistant Manager for the 2008-09 season when the current Manchester United manager was the Inter Coach. The former Chelsea and Spurs manager was asked about this weekend’s Derby della Madonnina between Milan and Inter, and if he would ever return to Italy.
“I saw the game they won against Benevento, and I noticed that the players are worried, anxious and struggling to express themselves at their best. I hope they can win the derby, because I remain tied to Inter and the experience I had with the Nerazzurri. I haven’t been back to Milan for two years, but I still have my friends and my restaurants.
A return to Italy? Let’s just say I’ve been close to a few Italian clubs and I’ve had a couple of meetings with their directors. Of course I’d like a future in Italy. The benches of the big European clubs are usually decided between March and April and I am open to an important project in Italy, Spain, England or Germany. We’ll see what happens.”