Juventus can end Real Madrid's Champions League reign - Lirola

Juventus celebrating vs Barcelona


Pol Lirola would be forgiven for having mixed emotions about Juventus being in the semi-finals of the Champions League. After all, the teenage full-back could have been involved in a potentially history-making season had he not been sent out on loan to Sassuolo last summer.

However, Lirola is not only hoping that Juve go all the way, he believes that they will, claiming that the Serie A league leaders are the best team left in the Champions League.

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Indeed, after watching the Old Lady eliminate Barcelona in the last eight, the Catalan feels that Juve will prove far too balanced a side for both Monaco, whom Massimiliano Allegri's men face on Wednesday, and defending champions Real Madrid.

"Honestly, I said before the first game against Barcelona that Juventus would go through," Lirola explains in an exclusive interview with Goal.

Juventus BBC BarcelonaGetty Images

"Then, after the performance in Turin, I was sure that they would go through because you do not score three goals against this Juve. They're too strong at the back.

"The thing that impressed me most, however, was how the team attacked Barcelona right from the start of the game in Turin. They were devastating going forward.

"In my opinion, they can now get past Monaco and reach the final, where they will face Real Madrid, who will beat Atletico [after triumphing 3-0 in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday].

"This Juve side has everything in place to win the Champions League.

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"If you want to win or even draw against a team like this, you have to play the game of your life and hope that they are not on their game.

"They really should end up playing Real in the final because in attack they are frightening. I think [Paulo] Dybala, [Gonzalo] Higuain, [Mario] Mandzukic and [Juan] Cuadrado can really hurt Real.

"Indeed, whereas the Bianconeri defense is phenomenal, the same cannot be said of Real Madrid, who concede a lot of goals."

Lirola believes that the strength of Juve's attacking arsenal is often overlooked because of the preoccupation with their evergreen backline.

However, the 19-year-old is delighted that the footballing world is now fully aware of the brilliance of Dybala, after the Argentine's decisive double against Barca.

Pol Lirola Paulo Dybala PSGetty Images

Lirola was struck by the striker's sensational skills during his very first training session with Juve's first team, following his permanent transfer to Turin two summers ago.

"Dybala is an absolute phenomenon," he enthuses. "Buffon is absolutely right: Dybala is among the top five players in the world. Technically, he's exceptional.

"Obviously, though, for their position on the pitch, I pay greater attention to Stephan Lichtsteiner and Dani Alves.

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"They interpret the full-back role very differently but they are two champions.

"I watch all of Juve's games and I try to study their movements to understand their secrets!"

Despite an ill-timed injury in January, Lirola has enjoyed an encouraging campaign at Sassuolo, even scoring the club's first ever goal in continental competition, against Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League.

Pol Lirola SassuoloGetty Images

However, he freely admits that his goal is to return to Turin and try to force his way into the first team, which, as he himself admits, will be easier said than done.

"I was out for about a month and a half and lost a little rhythm but now I want to finish the season as best I can, looking to play as much as possible and pick up more experience, which will be useful in terms of helping me start next year well," he explains.

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"I'm here on a two-year loan and I'm happy. It's the ideal environment for a young player that wants to develop and grow.

"However, my dream is to go back to Juve one day and play, even if I know that I will have to work hard to manage that, because Juve really do have an incredible squad."

One that Lirola imagines will be full of European Champions when he does eventually return to Turin.

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