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Next

Marcotti: Platini's missed opportunity

FIFA 15 hours ago
Read
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 4, 2006

Wenger gets players focused for Turin tussle

Arsene Wenger insists each and every one of his Arsenal players is fully aware of the challenges which await them in Turin tomorrow night.

The Gunners will defend a 2-0 lead against Juventus earned from the first leg at Highbury last week.

However, the Arsenal manager is all-too aware of the dangers of underestimating the Italians, who were distinctly below par on their recent visit to north London.

'The players are not stupid, they are intelligent boys,' Wenger declared. 'They know we have to make sure of the small things on our side - the focus, defence, helping each other out, concentrating for 90 minutes.'

Wenger added: 'We have to attack and try to win the game. We cannot just defend. We will try to defend well, of course, but we have to fix our targets to play well and try to win.'

Even so the Arsenal boss, as always, is determined to keep everyone's feet on the ground.

'I am very realistic, because two months ago everybody considered us to be a joke ... and now suddenly we are favourites to win the European Cup. The truth is somewhere in between,' said Wenger.

'We can make it, but let's just play at our best against Juventus and get through into the semi-final.

'The only thing we have done in the last two months is to make sure it's still in our hands in the [English] championship and in the European Cup.

'In the Premiership, we are in a position where it is just down to our results - and that has not always been the case. In Europe, it is just down to our result in Turin tomorrow.'

While the Gunners had until recent seasons been the dominant London force challenging Manchester United for domestic glory, success in Europe's elite club competition has so far eluded Wenger.

Although 2006 represents perhaps their best chance of ending that quest, Wenger maintains: 'I am not specifically obsessed by European success. But people expect from you what you have not done, and you have to accept that.

'I want to feel as a manager that I have got the maximum out of the team.'

The Arsenal boss will not allow himself to be deflected from the job in hand.

'I have my own philosophy and sentiment about what I have achieved or not achieved.

'I want to achieve as much as I can and let other people judge whether it is good or bad. That is not down to me.

'Domestically we have done very, very well - but at European level we have just been a fraction out. Every year we have an opportunity to show we can make up that fraction.

'Overall, I always feel that it is difficult to win everything every year.

'We have been in the FA Cup every year; we have done well in the championship in the last 10 years - and now we have a good opportunity to show we have got it in Europe.'

Arsenal are boosted by the news man-of-the-moment Cesc Fabregas has been passed fit to make the trip to Turin.

The young Spaniard - who scored one and then made the other for Thierry Henry against the Italians last week - suffered a badly-bruised foot during the 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa in the Premiership on Saturday.

Defender Emmanuel Eboue is also a fitness worry because of a groin problem, but will also travel. Veteran Sol Campbell is, however, on stand-by for what would be a dramatic reintroduction to first-team action.

Henry insists whoever takes to the field for Arsenal at the Stadio delle Alpi must be in the right frame of mind for the challenge which will await them.

'It is good to go to Turin on the back of a result like that [against Villa] - but the Champions League is another competition, and we will see how we do tomorrow,' the Arsenal captain reflected.

'Football can always reserve you some surprises - and you always have to stay cool and calm.'

Henry added: 'Juventus at home are a completely different proposition to the team we played at Highbury.

'They will do everything to make it as difficult as possible for us, and our players need to know that.'

Henry knows their magnificent performances in Europe this season - which included a stunning victory over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the last round - will count for little if things go horribly wrong tomorrow.

'This will be the most difficult game of our Champions League campaign this season,' the French striker declared. 'What we have done so far will be irrelevant if we do not reach the semi-finals.

'But our greatest motivation is that we know that everything is possible if we play as we did in the home game.

'It was a victory for togetherness, a great example of 11 players becoming a team.'

Juve will tomorrow be without suspended midfielder Patrick Vieira, the former Arsenal skipper, as well as Mauro Camoranesi and defender Jonathan Zebina.

However, Czech Republic international Pavel Nedved will return after serving a ban for the first leg while striker Alessandro Del Piero is facing a race against the clock to recover from a thigh injury.