Stephan Lichtsteiner says the Bianconeri must keep motoring forward to avoid handing any of their title rivals, in particular upcoming opponents Roma, the chance to take advantage as this season’s Scudetto race edges towards its final straight.
Monday will mark a welcome return to the capital for Lichtsteiner, who spent three enjoyable years with the Giallorossi’s inter-city rivals Lazio before moving to Turin, and he says it is vital the reigning champions keep the chasing pack at arm’s length with a win at the Stadio Olimpico.
Speaking to Rai, the 30-year-old, who recently penned a two-year contract extension, began: “It’s a difficult game but we’re preparing as we do for all the others, by trying to work out their strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of our nine-point advantage the league is not over.
“There are many teams, such as the Giallorossi, but also Napoli or Fiorentina, who are ready to take advantage of any slip-ups we make. So we always need to be ahead of the game and avoid being careless when facing matches.”
Top-of-the-table rivals for the past two seasons, Roma approach the mammoth match-up looking to close the gap at the top after falling off the pace in recent weeks following a sequence of six draws from their last seven Serie A games.
Lichtsteiner is convinced an involvement in several competitions provides the reason behind their recent slump in form but insists they remain a team to be feared, especially with the evergreen talents of Francesco Totti among their ranks.
“We have plenty of respect for Roma. They’re an excellent side and you need to bear in mind that dealing with a heavy fixture list is never straightforward when you’re fighting on several fronts. Yes, the same applies to us, but we’re probably a little more accustomed to the situation. Totti’s a great player, one to keep under close watch when lining up against.”
One of said fronts has been the Giallorossi’s involvement in the Europa League, where they booked a last 16 tie against Fiorentina side with victory over Feyenoord on Thursday.
A positive result for Juventus in their second leg tie with Borussia Dortmund would make them the sixth Italian outfit to prolong their European adventure, and Lichtsteiner is hoping this can be achieved at the Westfalenstadion on Wednesday 18 March.
“Five teams have gone through as it stands. We hope they become six with us, following the return leg in Dortmund. There are many strong teams in Italy and we also showed that we’re at a decent level against Borussia.”
Concluding with a thought on the differences between this season’s team and previous sides over the past three years, Lichtsteiner believes Massimiliano Allegri’s decision to revert to a back four has enabled Juventus to enjoy increased time on the ball.
“We’re a different side from last year, something that’s mainly down to the change in system. Now we play with a back four and this alteration enables us to keep hold of the ball more, especially in Europe.
“Allegri is a great professional and an excellent coach. He’s teaching the team a great deal and is a nice guy who enjoys a close relationship with the players. What hasn’t changed from the past is our aim, which is always to win.”