Manchester United Coach Jose Mourinho said Juventus are “the favourites to win” the Champions League and explained his gesture towards the fans.
It kicks off on Wednesday at 20.00 GMT and a win would automatically secure the Bianconeri’s qualification for the next round after their 1-0 victory at Old Trafford.
Romelu Lukaku is out injured and hasn’t even made the trip, as Mourinho confirmed he wasn’t sure if the striker could play against Manchester City on Sunday either.
“Tomorrow is a big match and it’s big enough to not think about ‘what next?’ It’s big enough to think just about the match against Juventus. It’s not crucial for us,” insisted the Coach in his Press conference.
“The matches against Young Boys and Valencia are going to define the second position. Tomorrow is of course a match that we want to win. We have to play, we want to play and we want that very, very much.
“The best experiences for teams is when you play against teams that are really the top, but in relation to the Champions League it doesn’t matter what happens here. There are two more matches to play and we are going to fight for qualification until the next match.”
There was already tension between Mou and the Juventus fans at Old Trafford, when they insulted him and he responded by making the ‘three’ sign with his fingers, representing the Treble he won with their rivals Inter in 2010.
“The supporters in the end behaved in such a way that was not appropriate and not very nice so I came to the conclusion that that’s the only reason and that’s why I reacted with the three fingers.
“I have a good relationship with the club and with Max Allegri, we are good friends. We have a very good relationship with everybody, so I don’t have any bad memories from the time I was here in Italy.”
Mourinho has been criticised for Manchester United’s at times negative approach to the game, but he has tried to shake things up.
“I just think it is the way to develop the team in the direction that we want to go. I recognised that in many matches we are showing that, the reality is that we concede too many goals, and the way that we concede them shows our weaknesses. Weaknesses that sometimes you can hide, sometimes you can’t.
“It’s a big match to play tomorrow, they’re favourites to win the competition, and I think in the press conference we are speaking less about the game and more about the generalities. We should focus a bit more on tomorrow.
“We work every day to try but the reality is that normally we don’t start matches well, but if we don’t start well and we end well, that’s fine. It’s good fun for the fans, but football is 90 minutes and especially when your opponent is strong, if you give 45-minute advantage, or even 20 or even 10, you have a mountain to climb.
“The good thing is that lately, apart from the Juventus match, we were strong enough to climb the mountain and change the match in the last minutes. When you play against a super team, like tomorrow, if you give an advantage away, it’s difficult to climb the mountain.”
Much has been said of Mourinho’s frosty rapport with Paul Pogba, even enough to push him towards a return to Juventus, but the pair sat together in Turin at the press conference.
“One thing is what the press says, and another thing is what Paul says and of course another thing is what I say. The press says we have a terrible relationship, Paul some weeks ago said we had a typical Coach-player relationship, I think we have a good relationship. I would classify it as a good relationship between a Coach and a football player.”