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Pavel Nedved Bemoans 'Most Difficult Draw' After Juventus Get Atletico in UCL

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2018

Juventus' French midfielder Blaise Matuidi (L) and Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate at the end of the Italian Serie A football match Torino vs Juventus on December 15, 2018 at the Olympic stadium in Turin. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)
MARCO BERTORELLO/Getty Images

Juventus have been handed the "most difficult draw" for the last 16 of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League after being paired with Atletico Madrid, according to club vice-president Pavel Nedved.

The former midfielder said Juve will need some luck to advance to the quarter-finals, but he also talked up the strength of the Old Lady, per Calciomercato:

"We are going to Madrid months in advance. It is the demonstration that it is important to get to the second round, no matter if from first or second place. It is the most difficult draw and we also need a little luck. But we have a very strong team and we want to qualify.

"Atletico are a very difficult team to deal with. They are balanced. They play defensively and know how to hurt you with [Antoine] Griezmann. I foresee a difficult double challenge."

Atletico Madrid's French forward Antoine Griezmann walks on the pitch before the Spanish League football match between Real Valladolid and Atletico Madrid at the Jose Zorrilla stadium in Valladolid on December 15, 2018. (Photo by CESAR MANSO / AFP)
CESAR MANSO/Getty Images

Nedved added that while summer signing Cristiano Ronaldo is "the man of the Champions League," the Italian giants will not be "counting on him only" in the latter stages of the tournament.

Juve qualified as winners of Group H, but only because Manchester United failed to beat Valencia on the final matchday.

Monday's draw showed once again that topping the group does not necessarily mean an easier match in the last 16.

Juve's Serie A rivals Roma, for example, finished second in Group G but got a winnable tie with Porto in the first knockout round:

B/R Football @brfootball

Schalke vs. Manchester City Atletico vs. Juventus Manchester United vs. PSG Tottenham vs. Borussia Dortmund Lyon vs. Barcelona Roma vs. Porto Ajax vs. Real Madrid Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich Bring it on 🌟 https://t.co/PbLLcsS577

Porto are a fantastic side, but they boast nothing like the recent Champions League pedigree of Atletico.

Juventus against Atletico is almost too close to call given the pair have combined to reach four of the last five finals in the tournament, losing all of them:

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Atletico v Juve is a bit of a battle between the beaten finalists.

Both sides boast impressive defensive solidity, so it is a tie that will likely be decided on narrow margins.

And that could be where Ronaldo makes the difference.

The Portuguese thrives under pressure and on the biggest stages.

He will likely relish the opportunity to return to Madrid, and he has been a scourge for Atleti many times in the past:

Gracenote Live @GracenoteLive

#UCLdraw - Cristiano Ronaldo won 2 CL finals v Atletico Madrid. - Ronaldo scored 22 goals, including 3 hat-tricks v Atletico (only more v Sevilla 27 and Getafe 23).

As hinted at by Nedved, Juve would surely have preferred to be facing a team of Atleti's quality much later in the competition.

Diego Simeone's side are superbly drilled and know how to navigate two-legged ties in the Champions League.

But Juve will be confident they have the quality to get past Atleti in 2019.   

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