Cristiano Ronaldo was watched by his manager Maurizio Sarri during training
Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri said the club’s supporters “have every right” to attend the Champions League last-16 tie in Lyon amid concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
The virus has claimed 11 lives in Italy and Juve will face Inter Milan behind closed doors in their next league game.
But Sarri says it is a “European problem, not an Italian problem”.
“Obviously we have to confront the problem and the authorities need to firstly contain it,” he added.
“In Italy we have done 3,500 tests and we have a certain number of positive cases. In France about 300 tests have been done, so probably if they had done as many tests as us there would be as many positive cases.”
It was announced earlier this week that Inter Milan’s Europa League last-32 home match against Ludogorets will be played behind closed doors at the San Siro on Thursday because of fears about the spread of the virus.
European football’s governing body Uefa says all of its other European matches scheduled this week will go ahead as planned and there are currently no restrictions for attending supporters.
However, Laurent Fautra, the mayor of Decines, where Lyon’s Groupama stadium is located, and Christophe Quiniou, his counterpart in neighbouring Meyzieu, have released a joint statement urging French authorities not to allow Juve fans to travel to the game.
Lyon not making an ‘anti-Ronaldo’ plan
Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 19 goals since the start of December, will be available for the Serie A league leaders, who have made it past the Champions League last 16 in four of the past five seasons.
Juve have not won the Champions League since 1996 and the manager said he “feels the weight of responsibility much more in Italy”.
“We are very lucky to be able to chase the Champions League dream, because if we achieve it, it will be bliss, and if we don’t the journey will have been beautiful,” he added.
Lyon manager Rudi Garcia says his side do not have an “anti-Ronaldo plan” for their first leg against Juventus.
The Ligue 1 side have never beaten Ronaldo’s Juve in European competition but Garcia says his players “want to upset the odds”.
“Cristiano is a great professional but we don’t have an anti-Ronaldo plan,” Garcia said.
“They are a complete team and we have to solve the problems collectively.”
Ronaldo marked his 1,000th senior game with a record-equalling 11th consecutive Serie A goal in the victory over SPAL on Saturday, and the Portugal forward is among just seven players to have scored more than 50 Champions League goals.
Lyon are seventh in Ligue 1 and have not progressed beyond the Champions League round of 16 since 2010, but Garcia says his side “have to give everything and embrace any good fortune”.
“We really want to do something and our players are very motivated. We will try to cause Juventus problems and we will still need our 12th man at the Groupama Stadium.”
Life-sized Cristiano Ronaldo statue made out of chocolate
- Lyon are winless against Juventus in European competition (D1 L3), losing both of their home games against the Italian side by the same 1-0 scoreline (2013-14 Europa League quarter-finals and in the 2016-17 Champions League group stages).
- Lyon have been eliminated by Italian opposition in the Champions League knockout stages on both previous occasions they have met: 3-1 on aggregate against AC Milan in 2005-06 (quarter-finals) and 2-0 against Roma in 2006-07 (round of 16). Meanwhile, Juventus have always progressed to the next round when facing French clubs in the knockout stages of the competition (4/4).
- Lyon have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League more times than any other French club (11). However, it has been 10 years since they progressed past the round of 16 (2009-10). Indeed, they have scored only three goals in their last nine knockout games in the competition (W1 D2 L6).
- Seven of Lyon’s last eight Champions League home games have ended in a draw (W1), four of them with a 2-2 scoreline. Juventus were the last side to beat them on home soil in the competition, it was in October 2016 (1-0).
- Lyon won two of their six group games in this season’s Champions League (D2 L2), the lowest tally alongside Atalanta among the remaining 16 teams.
- Lyon posted an Expected Goals total of 7.8 in this season’s Champions League group phase (nine goals scored), the lowest total among the teams left in the competition.
- Memphis Depay (six goals, four assists) has been directly involved in 45% of Lyon’s Champions League goals since the start of last season (10/22) – however the French side will be without the Dutch forward for this match because of injury.
- Juventus are in the Champions League knockout stages for the sixth successive season, their longest ever run. In the last five campaigns, they have made it past the round of 16 on four occasions, only failing to do so in 2015-16 when they were eliminated by Bayern Munich (6-4 aggregate).
- Juventus have lost only one of their last seven Champions League away games in the knockout phase (W4 D2), a 2-0 defeat by Atletico Madrid last season in the last 16.
- Among the seven players with 50+ goals in the Champions League, Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo is also the only one to have scored more goals in the knockout stages (65) than in the group phase (63). Indeed, he has also registered more assists in the competition versus Lyon (four) than any other side.