After three useful tests against top-level sides in the United States over the last fortnight, we’re all set for our first public run-out of the summer on home soil against another European giant in reigning Serie A champions Juventus.
Ahead of the 5.30pm kick-off, we spoke to a selection of players to get an insight into how they’re approaching the game…
You played against Juve in Australia last summer. What did you learn about them that you can take into this match?
“It was a good game to play in last pre-season because they’re such a top side and of course they got to the Champions League Final last season so that just proves it. I remember playing against Paulo Dybala last year – he’s a great player and these are the kinds of players you want to pit yourself against so you can see how you cope. I’m looking forward to the game on Saturday and seeing what it brings.”
What’s it like to play against one of the top sides in European football like Juve?
“I loved it last year, I just enjoyed going out there in what I think was my first proper pre-season game last summer. For me it was fantastic going out there and playing with no pressure, just playing with excitement against a really good team with a good team ourselves. I think it’ll be the same this time. Juventus are a top side and they’ll be good opposition for us going into the first game of the season next week.”
How satisfied are you with how your pre-season is going this time around?
“I’m getting back into the flow of things, I’ve had three games under my belt in America and I’m feeling fresh. I’ve put the injury that I had to the back of my head and now I’m just going to try to move forward and progress this year. I’ve still got a while to go before I get back to the level I was at when I got injured but things are progressing well at the moment and I’m happy with the way things are going.”
How do you feel about the prospect of playing against Juve’s new signing, Douglas Costa, down your flank?
“He’s a big name, a very good player but as a defender that’s who you want to play against. You want to test yourself against the best and he falls into that category. It’s pre-season, we all need to work on things and that’s what it’s all about – fitness and everyone getting match minutes under their belts. Juventus is another big game for us but we’ll do our best and use it to make sure we’re ready for Newcastle on the first day of the season.”
Do you expect a similar kind of test to when we played Juventus in Australia last summer?
“I think both teams will have different players – when we were in Australia we had a slightly younger team but playing them now at Wembley is ideal as obviously we’ve got the Premier League and Champions League coming up and you want to have that experience of playing against the best teams and the individuals that we’re coming up against. We’re certainly doing that throughout pre-season.”
How much are you looking forward to playing at Wembley as well?
“It’s going to be brilliant this year. It’s our home ground this season and it will be nice to play in front of our fans from England again, so it will be a good day for us, a good test and another big game as we get prepared for Newcastle away on the first day of the season.”
How do you prepare to face a team like Juventus?
“You prepare just like any other game – they’re a great side but we fancy ourselves against anyone so it should be a good and exciting game for all the fans. Obviously we’re still getting into the swing of things and preparing for the first game of the season which is the most important game but we’ve got to go out there on Saturday, put on a good performance and make sure we’re ready to go for the first game at Newcastle.”
How do you feel about matching up against the likes of Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira?
“You want to test yourselves against some of the best players in the world and that’s what they’ve got. For us, we’ve got a great side here and we’ve got a lot of confidence in ourselves. We want to be up there challenging ourselves and to do that you’ve got to be playing against these types of players and teams. As soon as we go out there on Saturday, we’ve got to be willing to work hard and run and play the football we know we can. Hopefully we can win the game. It’ll be a good challenge but an exciting one as well.”
Tickets for Saturday’s match at Wembley, which is being hosted by Relevent Sports, are available now from £24 for adults and £14 for juniors.