After dismantling Scottish side Celtic 5-0 on aggregate in the Champions League, the reigning Italian champions Juventus look to go even further in a competition where they've been disappointing historically.
Led by the backbone of the Italian national team, La Vecchia Signora has built an enviable chemistry, staying faithful to a 3-5-2 formation that has been their recipe for success in the past year.
This core of players is still intact, and the relationship they've formed under coach Antonio Conte is enough to get by the toughest of European rivals.
The biggest test for the Bianconeri came against former Champions League winners Chelsea, but Juve defeated them 3-0 in Turin, showing the world just how formidable they can be against top opposition. Also, fans got a glimpse of just how intimidating their brand new Juventus Stadium can be.
Juventus boasts one of the finest midfields in world football, coupled with a sensational back line and the legendary Gianluigi Buffon in goal. What's even more impressive is their depth, as they can bring on the likes of young starlet Paul Pogba off the bench along with an array of quality defenders like Martin Caceres.
Really, the only problem with the squad is in the attack. Last season, Alessandro Matri was their leading striker domestically with 10 goals. This season, the now hardly utilized Fabio Quagliarella and inconsistent Sebastian Giovinco lead the way with seven strikes each.
With their revolving door upfront, it seems Antonio Conte has finally found his best pair with the mercurial Mirko Vucinic and Alessandro Matri, who is currently enjoying a great spell both domestically and in Europe.
However, this is not an attack you'd normally associate with a team competing for the Champions League, and it becomes even clearer that their midfield needs to take up some of the offensive duties. Despite this, the team camaraderie and poise is enough to make Juventus one of the most fearsome sides in Europe.
As a matter of fact, Juventus has not been scored on in 490 minutes in the Champions League. Incredibly, the last time they conceded a goal in this competition was back on October 23th, 2011 in a 1-1 tie against Nordsjaelland.
If Milan can successfully knock out the mighty Barcelona, only Real Madrid would be favored against the Bianconeri in a two-legged affair. Even so, it would be one of the closest and most enthralling games of the year.
Simply put, a Champions League triumph would be the ultimate reward for a team and fan base that has suffered tremendously in recent years.
UPDATE: Case for Juventus against Bayern Munich: It's worth noting that the Italian national team is essentially based on Juve, while the German national team is based on a core of players from Bayern Munich, right down to the formations, player core, and philosophy. Italy met Germany in the Euro 2012 semifinal as the underdogs yet managed to dictate the game and come out with a well deserved win.
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