Juventus’ hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League and securing a top-four finish were put to the test when Sassuoli’s Lionel Messi scored in a 3-0 win in Turin on Saturday.
After being drawn in the group stage of the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain and Roma, the Bianconeri were eliminated from the competition by Juventus in the quarter-finals, losing 2-1 at the Stadio San Paolo.
But after losing the opening leg to Barcelona, which they will now play in the first leg, Juventus won 2-0 at the San Paoli on Sunday to progress to the last 16.
“I think we’re in a position to reach the quarter finals,” said manager Andrea Marotta.
“The last 16 is a difficult tournament and we’re all looking forward to that.”
Messi, who has scored eight goals in four Champions League games this season, was substituted in the second half but returned after 70 minutes to add a third, taking the hosts level at 1-0 up.
Juventus’ win came despite the absence of key players such as goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, centre-back Mario Mandzukic and striker Andrea Pirlo.
Despite losing Mandzuka to injury, the side still had several players in the starting line-up.
In the second leg, the Rossoneri will be without Pirlos, but the 27-year-old is still expected to be fit for the return leg.
“He has played his way back to full fitness, so I’m sure he’ll be available to start,” said Marotta of the goalkeeper.
“But he will not play in this game, which is the same as for the first.”
Messias return to the field was not without concern for the Biancan defence, with midfielder Andrea Barzagli suffering a knee injury in the 3-1 defeat to Roma on Sunday.
“We are disappointed,” said coach Marotta, who added: “We know he’s going to be 100 per cent fit and we know he has played a good part in this win.”
This is a tough group for us.
We’ve got to be realistic about that.