Claudio Marchisio has warned Juventus not to become distracted by their looming Champions League last-16 tie when they face Bologna in Serie A on Friday.
The champions’ stunning run of 15 consecutive wins, which culminated in a 1-0 victory over title rivals Napoli last week, has seen them soar to the top of Serie A with 25 matches played.
Juve face a pivotal few weeks in their season, with league and cup games against Roberto Mancini’s Inter and both legs of the European tie with Pep Guardiola’s Bayern over the next month.
But Marchisio insists they cannot turn their focus towards facing the German champions yet as they aim to take maximum points against a Bologna side resurgent under Roberto Donadoni.
“We can’t afford to risk thinking about the Champions League. We have to concentrate on the league because we’ve made a huge effort to reach first and it’ll take an even bigger one to stay there,” he told Sky Italia.
“Donadoni is doing a great job, as he had been doing with Parma in recent years. He’s completely changed the way Bologna play but, above all, he’s changed the motivations of the players.
“So he’s definitely put his stamp on this good Bologna side, who cause problems for everyone and will make things difficult for us.”
Only Juve, Napoli and Fiorentina have taken more than the 27 points Bologna have managed over the last 15 Serie A matches, with their latest 1-0 win away to Udinese moving them to within three points of the top seven.
Donadoni believes his players are beginning to develop a real resilience and insists they are capable of ending their long wait for a home league win against Massimiliano Allegri’s side.
“It was hard to get the three points [in Udine]. The attitude is the right one but all the lads can and should grow,” he said this week.
“If we don’t do anything wrong, and we give 110 per cent, we’ll give Juventus a hard time as well.”
Juve are without Alex Sandro (hamstring), Giorgio Chiellini (calf) and Martin Caceres (Achilles), while Mario Mandzukic (hip) and Kwadwo Asamoah (thigh) are unlikely to be risked.
Luca Rossettini (back) is set to miss out for Bologna as they look to make it four home league games in a row without defeat.
Key Opta Stats:
– Juventus have won each of their last five Serie A clashes vs Bologna, keeping three clean sheets and scoring an average of two goals per game.
– Juventus are unbeaten in 12 Serie A games at the Dall’Ara (8W, 4D): the last time Bologna defeated Juventus at home was back in November 1998 (3-0).
– Juventus have conceded only six shots on target over the last five Serie A match-days, at least four fewer than any other side.
– Only Gonzalo Higuain (16) and Paulo Dybala (9) have scored more goals than Mattia Destro (8) over the last 15 Serie A matchdays.
– Gianluigi Buffon has kept a clean sheet seven times since the start of 2016, more than any other keeper across the top five European leagues.
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