Post subject: Bonucci eyes date with history
14. Jan 2016, 00:48
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|At what is precisely the midway point of the season, Leonardo Bonucci left little doubt as to what his and the team’s objectives were for the second half of 2015/16.
Having climbed 11 places in the Serie A table since late October and clawed themselves to within two points of leaders Napoli, the Bianconeri have given themselves an opportunity to match the five consecutive league titles won by the legendary Quinquennio side of the 1930s.
Speaking to Sky and Mediaset, Bonucci began: “We’re aiming to rewrite the history books with a fifth Scudetto on the spin. In the last three months, we’ve rediscovered an enormous appetite to win games, which is what links this Juve team with those of previous years.”
Looking back at the first part of the current campaign, the defender identified their reaction to the 1-0 reverse at Sassuolo as the turning point in their season. Since that autumnal evening in Reggio Emilia, Bonucci and company have enjoyed a nine-match winning streak.
“After that match, we all understood that we needed to step up our games, including the more experienced members of the team, as it’s our job to show the new arrivals what it means to play in Italy and wear this shirt.
“We knew that the comeback was on because the quality in this side is there to see. What we needed was to roll up our sleeves and generally to increase our work rate as a group.
“That tough patch was probably very useful in terms of forging stronger relationships within the group and helping us climb the table. We’re in no mood to stop this run that we’re on.”
Turning his attentions to Juventus’ main challengers for the Scudetto, the 28-year-old said: “If had to name our biggest rival for the Scudetto, I’d pick Napoli due to their convincing displays to date and the fact that they have a champion among their ranks in Higuain.
“But the table suggests that there are four sides challenging for honours and everything will probably be decided in the final few matches of the season. We’re aware that the second part of the campaign will be wide open and therefore very difficult.”
Lining up alongside Bonucci in defence for the first time this term has been Daniele Rugani and the 21-year-old was singled out for praise upon completing his maiden six months with the Bianconeri.
“Daniele is a great talent. His strength is an ability to win one-on-ones and he is very intelligent in the way he reads situations from a tactical point of view.
“At Empoli, he was used to playing a certain way and he has also developed a lot within our system. It’s clear that spending a season alongside three Juventus and national team regulars can only benefit him.”
Wrapping up the interview, Bonucci looked ahead to Juve’s Champions League last-16 tie with Bayern Munich. Despite expecting a pair of tough encounters against the five-time winners of the competition, the Italy international stressed that his own side would not be leaving any stone unturned in their efforts to progress to the quarter-final stage.
He concluded: “Bayern are brimming with quality, but I’m sure that they were not too happy to draw us in the next round. We know that it won’t be easy, but we’ll do our very best to overcome them, showing the right amount of respect, but without any fear. Last year we established ourselves among Europe’s elite and it’s our duty to stay there.”