Ranieri admits Juve must improve against Real

October 19, 2008

Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri admits his struggling side are feeling the pressure ahead of their Champions League encounter with Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Ranieri's men have failed to fire in Serie A thus far and were beaten 2-1 by high-flying Napoli on Saturday, a result which leaves the Old Lady in mid-table with just two wins from seven league games.

Juventus are undefeated in Champions League Group H, however, and are just two points behind the Spanish champions ahead of the midweek encounter in Turin.

Ranieri is sweating on the fitness of Christian Poulsen and Claudio Marchisio, who both picked up injuries in the defeat to Napoli, and the coach is desperate for his side to find some consistency as speculation mounts over his future.

"We're doing the best we can at the moment, but the fact we're not able to win weighs down on everybody," Ranieri told the club's website. "Unfortunately this year we haven't been consistent - we have good spells, but we're not smooth enough.

"And now Real Madrid. I have two days to prepare the game and most of all to see which injured players I can have back."

Juventus were missing 10 players for the trip to Naples and Ranieri believes the further problems suffered by his injured midfield duo contributed to the loss.

"I liked how we played in the first hour, we put pressure on Napoli and scored the goal," the former Chelsea boss continued. "Unfortunately both Poulsen and Marchisio had physical problems and I had to strengthen the midfield, taking off [Alessandro] Del Piero and putting [Paolo] De Ceglie on."

Amauri put the Bianconeri ahead in the 62nd minute of the game in Naples but Marek Hamsik brought the home team level two minutes later. Ezequiel Lavezzi grabbed the winner for Napoli 10 minutes from time.

Marchisio, meanwhile, said Juve must now switch their focus to the match with Madrid, and not dwell on the defeat.

"We're bitterly disappointed and you can see it on our faces too," he said. "After going one up, we made the mistake that great teams cannot make: we let go and they punished us.

"Now we must turn the page immediately and focus on Tuesday's game. Against Real Madrid we will have to fight for the whole 90 minutes and redeem ourselves, for the sake of ourselves, the club and our fans."