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Dec 6, 2012

Juve want Real Madrid clash

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci is hopeful of facing Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16 after the Bianconeri finished top of their group with a 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

• Blog: Calcio's perfect moment

Juventus are seeded for the next round and will face one of Porto, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Valencia, Celtic and Galatasaray.

But Bonucci, 25, believes Juve are ready to face the Spanish champions and assert their credentials as a European powerhouse.

"Looking at the seeds, they are the most prestigious teams. Only Real Madrid stand out in the second pot, but when you reach this level they are all difficult," he told Sky Sport Italia. "I want Real Madrid in the next round, as I have never played at the Bernabeu.

"We have grown over the course of the competition, proving we gained in confidence, belief and that we study our opponents carefully. We came here to play our game and we had said there would be no calculations or playing for a draw."

Assistant manager Angelo Alessio was on the sidelines for Juventus as Antonio Conte served the last match of his ban for failing to report match-fixing.

Conte will return to the touchline for Juve's Serie A clash with Palermo this weekend and Alessio praised the players and staff for responding to him throughout Conte's time in the stands.

"It's very satisfying that we have achieved this mission, as winning here and finishing top was exceptional," he said. "We have to thank the squad, as despite Antonio's absence from the touchline they were entirely at our disposal."

"We have been growing throughout the competition, culminating in the great performance against Chelsea and tonight's victory.

"We knew all about Shakhtar and that they are based mainly on individual talents, though they caused us some problems on the counter-attack. Once you block their creative centres, they are not very organised, so we were able to neutralise them.

"It was difficult to do without Antonio, but the team knows what it has to do and how it must move, so they helped the situation immensely. We had to call a few players today who weren't keeping their positions.

"I know what Antonio has been through over the last few months. I want to thank the staff who worked so hard to achieve this fundamental objective of qualification."

Shakhtar boss Mircea Lucescu conceded that Juventus outplayed his side, but he left a scathing evaluation of the referees' performance after Stephan Lichtsteiner appeared to be offside when providing the assist for Juve's winner.

"Juventus played a good game, prepared well, were aggressive and won the midfield battles, then took advantage of a refereeing error," Lucescu told Mediaset. "Juventus really were hungry for this game and they closed us all over the field, giving us very little space. Fortune favours the brave and it did tonight.In my view, the goal was offside.

"To reach a certain level, you need to have talent and history, but also a certain political strength in football. I thought a draw would've been the right result and we really missed Luiz Adriano, as our strikers were unable to do what Adriano does, particularly when helping out in midfield.

"In my view, the goal was offside. It's true there could've been a penalty for both teams too. I don't say the referee decided the match. I just saw that it was offside, while there was a clear penalty not awarded on Willian in Turin.

Lucescu suggested his young side may have lacked focus during the match and insists they must still prove themselves in Europe despite claiming the scalp of defending champions Chelsea.

"We must wait a few years before we are as respected as the big European clubs," he said. "It was a balanced match and a draw was right, but you could see Juventus wanted it much more than my players. Now we have a month off and perhaps my players were already thinking about their holidays.

"It's also possible some of my players were thinking about the transfer market, as they are young and lately there has been far too much talk around them. You can see a fraction of a second makes all the difference at this level."

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