?Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini has claimed that Atletico Madrid are ‘more Italian than Spanish’ ahead of the meeting between the two clubs in the Champions League round of 16.
Famed for their miserly defence under manager Diego Simeone, Los Rojiblancos currently have the best defensive record in La Liga this season, conceding just 17 goals – only two more than current Serie A leaders Juve have conceded domestically.
Speaking ahead of their first-leg meeting at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday, the 34-year-old centre back praised that Atletico Madrid’s pragmatism, a quality synonymous with Italian football.
“I think Atletico Madrid are more Italian than Spanish,” the veteran centre-back told ?Marca.
“In terms of mentality and approach to games, they’re closer to our football. Simeone is ready to line up four midfielders to stop Juventus: Rodrigo, Thomas, Saul and Koke. I hope to return to this stadium for the final on June 1.”
Chiellini is aiming to win his first Champions League final with ?Juventus, having lost his previous two finals in 2015 and 2017 to Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. However, with the addition of ?Cristiano Ronaldo over the summer, are considered one of the favourites to lift to trophy in the Spanish capital.
As well as the upcoming Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid, Chiellini was also asked if he believed he was the best central defender in the world at present, although the Italian named one of Ronaldo’s former teammates instead.
Asked the question, Chiellini replied: “No, Atletico have one of them in Diego Godin. When he’s not there, Atletico change. He knows what distances to keep and I think he is the soul of Atletico and I know his renewal situation is complicated.”
Later in the interview, he added: “I said it last year, but now he [Sergio Ramos] even takes penalties, he is the best defender in the world. He hardly ever makes a mistake and if he does it’s because other things went wrong.
?”He’s a leader on and off the pitch and is one of those players that can influence both teams. He makes others play and that’s the difference between a good player and a champion. Sergio is the best.”