Andrea Pirlo has called on Juventus to take confidence from the UEFA Champions League triumph over Monaco when they take on a Lazio side eyeing second spot in Serie A.
Arturo Vidal’s second-half penalty gave Juve the first-leg honours in their quarter-final tie with Monaco – when Pirlo returned from a calf injury – and represented a strong response to last Saturday’s shock 1-0 loss to rock-bottom Parma.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side had previously gone 20 matches unbeaten in the league and Pirlo lauded the coach’s impact ahead of Saturday’s clash against Stefano Pioli’s men at the Juventus Stadium.
“He [Allegri] has brought tranquillity,” he told Sky Sport Italia. “He did not give too much importance to individual matches, as though we had to win them all to go forward.
“This gave us more confidence. The same attitude will also serve us well against Lazio.”
Despite Juve’s setback at Parma, they remain firmly on course for a fourth consecutive title, boasting a 12-point lead over Lazio with eight games remaining.
That Lazio are their nearest challengers is testament to the Rome club’s remarkable form, which has seen them win eight top-flight games in a row.
With that in mind, Juve winger Simone Pepe is taking nothing for granted.
“We’ve got two important matches coming up in the shape of Lazio and Monaco, but we’re focusing our attention solely on the former,” he told the club’s official website.
“We haven’t won the Scudetto yet, but we’d like to do so as soon as possible. Due to our healthy advantage at the top, Saturday’s game with Lazio could prove pivotal in the title race.
“This has been the most intense campaign I’ve ever played in, it’s vital we remain level-headed.”
Lazio, who will also face Allegri’s side in the Coppa Italia final on June 6, have a poor record against Juve and have not recorded a league win over them since December 2003.
Juve were 3-0 victors in November’s return fixture, with a brace from Paul Pogba and Carlos Tevez’s strike doing the damage.
Lazio sat sixth after that result, but a return to the Champions League is now firmly on the agenda. If they do manage to qualify, it will be the first time they have taken a seat at European football’s top table since the 2007-08 campaign.
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