Juventus target victory to commemorate victims of Heysel

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon makes a save during a training match at the Olympic stadium in Berlin.
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon makes a save during a training match at the Olympic stadium in Berlin.
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Juventus hope to be able to dedicate a victory in the Champions League final tonight to the victims of the Heysel disaster.

The Italian side play Barcelona in Berlin, 30 years after 39 supporters – mainly from Juventus – lost their lives when Liverpool fans rioted in the Heysel stadium in Brussels.

Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci told a news conference at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium: “As regards the Heysel tragedy, I went to a commemoration last week for the victims.

“The memory of what happened there is a further stimulus for us because we hope to dedicate the victory to those who lost their lives that night.”

Juventus manager Max Allegri added: “Heysel will always be one of the dark pages of football history – and not just for Juventus but all football. For us, it is important to remember the victims and commemorate their deaths.”

Bonucci insisted Juventus were not too concerned by the renowned attacking threat of Barcelona’s front trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar and that their 3-0 win in Germany against Borussia Dortmund had given the Italians confidence.

He said: “It will not be the Barca attack against the defence of Juventus. The game in Dortmund made us realise that we are a great team, gave us that awareness.

“We come here knowing that we are probably a rung below Barcelona, but in a final the differences dwindle.

“It is up to us to fight for every ball. We will not be the victims here.”

Neymar has followed in a rich tradition of Brazilian players to wear the Barca jersey but not all of them have lifted the Champions League trophy while at the club.

“To play in the final is a dream that I’ve had as a boy and I’m very close to it,” Neymar said in the build-up to the match against Juventus in Berlin. “We hope we play a great game and we win.”

The Primera Division champions last won the competition in 2011 and were eliminated last season by Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals in Neymar’s first year at the club.

Neymar has scored nine goals in the Champions League this season, one fewer than team-mate Lionel Messi, who is the tournament’s leading scorer.

The 23-year-old forms a star-studded attacking trio alongside Messi and Suarez that has combined for 120 goals in all competitions. “To play with Messi and Luis Suarez is a pleasure,” the Brazil international said. “It’s an honour to play with two football giants as they are.”

Barca, under first-year coach Luis Enrique, have enjoyed a hugely successful campaign already.

They won the Spanish title and claimed a record 27th Copa del Rey trophy – Neymar’s first with the team since arriving two years ago.

Juve, who eliminated Barca’s arch-rivals Real Madrid in the semi-finals of Europe’s elite club competition, have also enjoyed a successful season under coach Allegri in his first year at the club.

The Italian champions won the domestic double for the first time since the 1994-95 campaign.

The Bianconeri lost just three of their 38 Serie A games overall and finished 17 points clear of nearest rivals Roma.

Beating them will be no easy task, according to Neymar.

“Juve are a dangerous side at the back, in the middle and up front,” he said. “It’s no fluke that they are in the final.”

Barca are the only Spanish club to have won a Primera Division, Champions League and Copa del Rey treble, having done so under Pep Guardiola in the 2008-09 campaign.

Victory today would see Barca repeat that feat and hand Neymar his first treble.

“We have the chance to win and I will do my all to win the title,” he said. “The team is happy.

“There’s a good atmosphere.”

Barcelona can welcome back midfielder Andres Iniesta, who is expected to start.

Iniesta, who missed his team’s training sessions this week after sustaining a calf injury in last weekend’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao, returned to training on Thursday.

Saturday’s game will be Barca captain Xavi’s last appearance for the club.

The 35-year-old midfielder will join Qatari side Al Sadd this summer.