TURIN, Italy — Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini says he will not be able to stop “extraordinary” Harry Kane alone in Tuesday’s Champions League match against Tottenham.
Chiellini, who is expected to partner Medhi Benatia at centre-half in the round-of-16 first leg in Turin, needs no introduction to Kane, who finished 2017 as the top goal scorer in elite European football and finished the group stage with six goals from five appearances.
“[Kane]’s an extraordinary striker and his stats over the past two years prove it, and he’s a player who’s grown a lot over recent years,” the Italy international said.
“He’s a complete player: scores goals, sets up his teammates — he’s got the characteristics which make him one of the best in the world and Tottenham are lucky to have him because he’s a rare commodity.
“Thinking of stopping Kane one-on-one, just me, is not going to happen. My interest is that Juventus stop Tottenham and this is the most important thing.
“Of course individuals and duels matter, but the team have got to do well to contain their game because it’s not just Harry Kane — they’ve got a phenomenal attacking quartet and it would be too reductive to think of Tottenham only as Kane. This is the Champions League and it gets interesting now, and we’re delighted to be here.
“The primary objective would be not to concede, but it won’t be easy as they play very well with their forwards they’ve got. We’ll try to beat them as a team because you can win some battles individually, but only as a team can you stop them.”
Chiellini also highlighted the threats posed by Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli, and said he knew immediately that Kane was destined for big things when he played against the striker on his full England debut in March 2015.
“Kane was already one of the best strikers around and people were saying good things about him [when Italy played England],” the 33-year-old said.
“I saw it right with Kane because he’s become a real top player and it will be a pleasure to face him in these two games — I’m going to sweat and suffer, but the beauty of football is measuring yourself against these players.”
For his part, Kane has not forgotten his first meeting with Chiellini, who introduced him to international football with a crunching tackle in Turin.
“He’s an amazing defender. On my first start for England, in the first five minutes he made a challenge and I had a dead leg for about five minutes,” Kane said. “It was a good welcome to international football.
“We know how good their defence is as a whole and obviously their goalkeeper as well. It’ll be a fantastic challenge and I’m looking forward to coming up against him again.”
Juventus will be without Chiellini’s defensive partner Andrea Barzagli, as well as injured quartet Paulo Dybala, Blaise Matuidi, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Juan Cuadrado.
Their boss Massimiliano Allegri said: “I wouldn’t settle for a 0-0, but I would accept not conceding. It’s a last-16 game and we’ve got a 50 percent chance, as do they. We’ve got to play with our heads, with great technical quality as they are a very physical team, and we’re going to have to find way of getting through in London, because that’s where the passage to the next round will be decided.
“The only team in the past three years to have done better than Juventus in the Champions League are Real Madrid. To put us on a level with the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich is very important to Juventus, but this does not end this year.”
Dan is ESPN FC’s Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.