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Treble-chasing Juventus need focus for Lazio Cup final

Juventus’ coach from Italy Massimiliano Allegri said, “It’s one step at a time: now, we’ve the Cup final, then we’ll concentrate on the league and, lastly, the Champions League” © AFP/File / MIGUEL MEDINA

FOLIGNO, Italy, May 16 – Massimiliano Allegri has called for treble-chasing Juventus to make amends for failing to secure the Serie A title last weekend, by beating Lazio in the Italian Cup final on Wednesday.

Juventus, who face Real Madrid in the Champions League final on June 3, needed just a point at Roma on Sunday to secure a record sixth consecutive Italian league title.

But a stunning 3-1 reverse has left the increasingly-shaky Turin giants just four points ahead of Roma with two games remaining, adding unwelcome pressure ahead of their bid for a third successive league and Cup double and, in turn, an unprecedented club treble.

“It will serve us well, because we have to get right back on our feet for Wednesday and then again for Crotone,” Allegri said at the Stadio Olimpico, where Lazio will be hoping for a similar result against the champions.

“I’m not worried. On the contrary, we have to remain focused on our objective and understand where we went wrong so we avoid the same mistake in future.

“It’s one step at a time: now, we’ve the Cup final, then we’ll concentrate on the league and, lastly, the Champions League.”

Juventus will claim an all-time Serie A record of six consecutive titles if they beat relegation-threatened Crotone in Turin next Sunday.

But, after losing shape, composure and ultimately the chance to celebrate securing the scudetto at the home of their arch rivals, the pressure is now on to make sure there is no repeat.

Winning a treble, seven years after Inter Milan achieved the feat under the helm of Jose Mourinho in 2010, has been Juve’s ambition all season.

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But the pressure is beginning to tell. Juventus have drawn two and lost one of their last three league outings, shipping six goals in the process.

“Lately, we’ve conceded a little more than we usually do in terms of our defence, although over the course of a season these things can happen,” said Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci.

“We should have wrapped up the title tonight (Sunday), now we have to make sure we go and win the Cup on Wednesday and do the same against Crotone.”

With six Cup wins but their last coming in 2013, Lazio’s record in the competition pales in comparison. Juventus have won 11.

And though former Juventus striker Ciro Immobile, who has hit 22 league goals for the high-flying capital club, he belives the “perfect match” can put a dent in Juve’s ambitions.

“They (Juventus) are a great side. They’ve reached the Champions League final,” said Immobile.

“We know how strong they are so we’re obviously very concentrated on the final. We knew we’ll need the perfect match.”

Allegri is set to welcome Paulo Dybala back to his starting line-up, after the Argentina front man came off the bench against Roma, but is still sweating on the fitness of hard-working Croatian front man Mario Mandzukic (back).

In a bid to end Lazio’s four-year wait for silverware, coach Simone Inzaghi rested a number of key players, including defender Stefan De Vrij and striker Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, for a trip to Fiorentina that ended in a 3-2 defeat last Saturday.

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The reverse had no bearing on Lazio’s league position following their recent qualification for next season’s Europa League, so may well pay dividends.

However, Inzaghi — the brother of former AC Milan striker and coach Filippo — is now sweating on the fitness of midfielder Marco Parolo (knee) and Belgian defender Jordan Lukaku (thigh) after both pulled up injured in Florence.

“It’s not what we wanted,” Inzaghi said. “But that’s all part of football. I hope we get both back for the final.”

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