Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio has called for a flawless display against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League make-or-break clash on Tuesday that he considers their “most important game of the season”.
“We’ve worked hard the past few months to get where we are now, so tomorrow we can’t put a foot wrong,” Marchisio told reporters at the club’s Vinovo training ground on Monday.
“It’s our most important game of the season. We want to join the elite of Europe, and to do that we have to start this game as fully focused and determined as possible.”
A draw at Juventus Stadium would be enough to see Massimialiano Allegri’s Serie A champions safely through to the last 16 of the competition for the first time since 2012 — but Juventus are aiming higher.
“Our ultimate objective, our number one aim at this stage of the season is to qualify for the last 16,” said Allegri.
But although the 47-year-old hailed Atletico’s qualities, Allegri said confidence is high having pushed Atletico all the way in a 1-0 defeat at the Vicente Calderon stadium earlier in the group campaign.
He believes the Italian giants can win with the two-goal cushion that would clinch top spot and a more favourable seeding in the last 16 draw.
“We know we’re facing a team that have won ten of their past 11 games, but we’re in great condition,” added Allegri.
“We lost against them in Madrid and we didn’t really deserve to. Tomorrow, we’re playing at home and will have the full stadium behind us.
“We want to win the game, preferably with a two-goal cushion. It won’t be easy, because their defence doesn’t give a lot away.”
Juventus were held to a scoreless draw away to Fiorentina on Friday when Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez made only a late appearance as a substitute.
But although Allegri hinted he could deploy Fernando Llorente and Alvaro Morata in an unprecedented two-man attack, Tevez is expected to line up in Turin on Tuesday.
“Morata played well in the away game to Atletico and Llorente has scored some important goals in Europe for us, so there could be space for both of them,” said Allegri.
“They haven’t played together this season… but I will only decide tomorrow morning who will play.”
Having been eliminated by eventual winners Bayern Munich at the quarter-final stage of the competition two seasons ago, Juventus failed to make it past the last 16 last year while under the helm of former coach Antonio Conte.
Juventus dropped into the Europa League and made it to the semi-finals, only to lose out to Benfica.
An Atletico victory as well as an Olympiakos win at home to Malmo on Tuesday would end Juve’s run in the competition.
Olympiakos, who sit three points behind in third, would secure second spot because of their better head-to-head record having scored twice in a 3-2 defeat in Turin. Juventus lost 1-0 in Athens.
It would be a nightmare scenario for Juventus, but it is one Allegri has not even considered.
“I’m not even thinking about the Europa League. It has not entered my mind,” he said.
“We’re playing for first place and a spot in the knock-out stages. They need to think about defending their lead of the group.”