BOURNEMOUTH, England — Manchester United Chris Smalling has said he and his teammates were “in awe” of Juventus in their recent Champions League clash, and has challenged the players to put things right in their return meeting.
Juventus won 1-0 when they visited Old Trafford in a game in which United were punished for a slow start but improved after half-time — something that is becoming a theme of the season for Jose Mourinho’s side.
Smalling said that he and his teammates were much improved after the interval, and that gives them the belief that can get something at the Allianz Stadium.
“I think Juventus, we started the game a bit in awe, we were off the pace and they were on the front foot but the second half we showed we could give them a game,” Smalling said.
“We created chances and we can take that second half performance to Turin and we will be more on the front foot and I think you’ll see a better performance than you did, particularly in the first half.
“Juve have shown they don’t concede many goals and hopefully we can get on the front foot. The first half, I think we learned from that and we showed that in the second half and on Wednesday you will see a difference.”
Meanwhile, Smalling has challenged United to use the momentum from their last-gasp win at Bournemouth to earn statement wins in a week which sees them play Manchester City after Juventus.
Smalling described United’s first-half performance at the Vitality as their “worst” of the season.
But after Marcus Rashford’s stoppage-time winner, which gave United a 2-1 victory, Jose Mourinho’s team now head into a heavyweight week in the Champions League and Premier League on the back of two straight wins.
“We know we are going into a very tough week now but we can come out with some results it can be seen as a good month especially as it’s a tough month now,” Smalling said. “It would galvanise us knowing that we have had some big games this month and that we have gone toe to toe and picked up some big results.
“I think, even going in to this month, it was all about getting results we know we need to move up the table.”