Se­cure scud­etto now, says tre­ble-chas­ing Al­le­gri

New Straits Times - - Sport -

ROME: Coach Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri has urged tre­ble-chas­ing Ju­ven­tus to set­tle nerves ahead of their Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal with Real Madrid next month by se­cur­ing the Serie A ti­tle, and another league and Cup dou­ble, to­mor­row.

With only two Cham­pi­ons League titles to their name in eight at­tempts, the Turin gi­ants are de­ter­mined to make amends for their 3-1 de­feat to Barcelona in 2015 when they face 11-time cham­pi­ons Real in Cardiff on June 3.

Ju­ven­tus took one step to­wards a third suc­ces­sive league and Cup dou­ble on Wed­nes­day with a com­pre­hen­sive 2-0 Cup fi­nal win over Lazio, Dani Alves and Leonardo Bonucci on the mark for the cham­pi­ons dur­ing a for­mi­da­ble dis­play at the Sta­dio Olimpico.

But Juve’s slip at Roma last week, where they looked jaded on their way to a 3-1 re­verse that has added un­ex­pected spice to the sea­son’s fi­nale, left a bit­ter taste in Al­le­gri’s mouth.

Given Ju­ven­tus are fac­ing rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened Cro­tone, the odds should be firmly in the hosts’ favour.

But the Cal­abri­ans’ late-sea­son ef­forts to beat the drop — they are cur­rently one point from Em­poli and the safety zone — has pro­duced a turn­around in form in re­cent weeks.

“We’ve claimed our first tro­phy of the sea­son, now we want the sec­ond,” Al­le­gri said after see­ing Ju­ven­tus be­come the first Ital­ian team to win three suc­ces­sive Cup fi­nals, two of which came un­der his watch.

“Now, we want the sec­ond on Sun­day against Cro­tone, who have taken 17 points from their last seven games. It will be a dif­fi­cult match, so I want to see a clin­i­cal per­for­mance like tonight’s.”

Fail­ure to do so could see Juve’s chances of keep­ing their hopes of a tre­ble, last achieved in Italy by In­ter Mi­lan while un­der Jose Mour­inho in 2010, hinge on the fi­nal day of the sea­son.

Next week­end, Juve are away at Bologna, Roma host Genoa and Napoli are at Sam­p­do­ria and Al­le­gri added: “We only need one more win, and we ab­so­lutely want to do it on Sun­day.

“I want to see the sta­dium filled to the brim be­cause it will be de­ci­sive.”

Roma, only four points off the pace, travel to Chievo for to­day’s early game look­ing to keep the pres­sure on and buoyed by the re­turn of Dutch mid­fielder Kevin St­root­man and tro­phy-chas­ing striker Edin Dzeko.

St­root­man re­turns from a two-game ban, for sim­u­la­tion, while Dzeko, who leads the chase for the top scorer’s ‘Capoc­an­non­iere’ award on 27 goals — two ahead of Andrea Belotti (Torino) and Dries Mertens (Napoli) — trained this week fol­low­ing his re­cov­ery from a calf in­jury.

Napoli, in third at one point be­hind Roma, host Fiorentina in to­day’s late fix­ture a week after a 50 rout at Torino.

Fiorentina, in sev­enth and only one point be­hind AC Mi­lan and a Europa League place, are miss­ing Span­ish mid­fielder Borja Valero through sus­pen­sion.

Lazio have al­ready qual­i­fied for the Europe League but wel­come em­bat­tled In­ter Mi­lan look­ing to make amends for their mid­week Cup loss with vic­tory in their fi­nal home game of the sea­son.

Less than two weeks after Ste­fano Pi­oli was sacked by In­ter, youth team coach Ste­fano Vec­chi is at the helm again but should leave in­jury-hit cap­tain Mauro Icardi on the bench in place of Eder.

At the San Siro last week, the en­tire ‘Curva Nord’ sec­tion which houses In­ter’s ‘ul­tras’ left the sta­dium after 25 min­utes of a shock 2-1 loss to Sas­suolo “to have lunch” — ac­cord­ing to a ban­ner they left be­hind — to protest In­ter’s dire sea­son.

Sit­ting four points be­hind city ri­vals Mi­lan, the Ner­az­zurri need to beat Lazio to have any chance of qual­i­fy­ing for the Europa League.

TO­DAY: Chievo v Roma, Napoli v Fiorentina; TO­MOR­ROW: Em­poli v Ata­lanta, Genoa v Torino, Ju­ven­tus v Cro­tone, Mi­lan v Bologna, Sas­suolo v Cagliari, Udi­nese v Sam­p­do­ria, Lazio v In­ter; MON­DAY: Pescara v Palermo. AFP

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