Juventus looking to rekindle European love affair against Borussia Dortmund

Juventus, once a powerhouse of European football, are seeking only a second Champions League quarter-final appearance since 2006 — the year Juve were relegated for match fixing in Serie A — when they host Borussia Dortmund tonight.

Juventus looking to rekindle European love affair against Borussia Dortmund

The famous Italian club struggled in the group stage before finishing second behind Atletico Madrid and coach Massimiliano Allegri — who replaced Antonio Conte in the summer — hopes his wealth of Champions League experience, with AC Milan, helps to keep his team in the competition.

“Our group is strong and has grown steadily over these past few years,” central defender Giorgio Chiellini said. “Now we also want to show how far we’ve come on the European scene.

“We must approach the Champions League with enthusiasm, but at the same time be aware of the responsibility we have in flying the flag for Italy in Europe.”

In contrast, Dortmund, which has put its domestic difficulties aside on the European stage, is in the last 16 for the third year running after storming through the group stage, losing only one match, to finish ahead of Arsenal.

The German side beat Juventus when they last met in the 1997 final, Dortmund claiming their only Champions League title to date.

Juventus may struggle at times on the road in Europe, but it is a different story in Turin, where the Old Lady hopes to exploit impressive home form to set up a perfect chance to progress in the return leg.

The Bianconeri have turned their arena into a fortress since moving to the purpose-built Juventus Stadium in 2011 and have lost just one of 15 European home fixtures there.

That defeat, however, came against German visitors with a 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the quarter-final two years ago.

More impressive is the fact that, since that defeat, Juventus are unbeaten in 46 home games in all competitions.

Juve moved nine points clear at the top of Serie A at the weekend and look to be on course for a fourth successive league title while the outlook is very different for Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

However, after three successive victories, Dortmund appear to have recovered after their worst ever league start, and Jurgen Klopp’s team have climbed out of the relegation zone.

“It will take a while before we find ourselves in a different situation in the Bundesliga,” Klopp said. “Until then, the pressure remains. The Champions League is a whole different story.”

It can be no coincidence that Borussia Dortmund’s resurgence comes as star striker Marco Reus returns to form following an injury-plagued year.

Reus missed Germany’s World Cup triumph last summer with injury, which hampered him through the first half of the season.

He returned in January and has racked up three goals and an assist in Dortmund’s last three matches.

Dortmund will be further boosted by Reus signing a new contract this month, and stating it is his dream to win the league title with his boyhood club.

For now, Reus is fully focused on the matter in hand.

“It’s going to be about which team is more focused, which team has more desire,” he said. “We have to use the few chances we are going to get against such a good defensive team. We want to get a good result for the second leg.”

Borussia Dortmund striker Ciro Immobile made three substitute appearances for Juventus in Serie A, and another in the Champions League, between 2009 and 2010.

Immobile recently caused a stir by telling Italian magazine SportWeek that Germans are cold and that he had not been invited to dinner by any teammates since joining Dortmund from Torino last summer.

German tabloids seized on the comments, prompting the Italy forward to clarify he was only pointing out cultural differences that had made his move difficult.

Immobile has scored three times in the league for Dortmund, but hit four goals in five Champions League group matches.

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