Andrea Pirlo believes that bagging all three points against Lazio in Turin on Saturday will stand Juventus in good stead ahead of next week’s Champions League trip to Monte Carlo.
Having strung together eight league victories, the Biancocelesti have catapulted themselves up the table into second position, 12 points behind the reigning champions.
And with further domestic and European fixtures still to come, Pirlo says that registering their second triumph of the campaign over the in-form outfit would put the Old Lady in a great position ahead of the season’s climax.
Speaking to Sky Sport, he began: “It’s important we win as it’ll help us keep our lead intact over the chasing pack and also act as perfect preparation for next week’s match in Monte Carlo.”
Talk in the interview then inevitably turned to the Champions League and the 35-year-old, who started Tuesday’s 1-0 quarter-final first leg success over Monaco following seven weeks out with a calf problem, went on to provide his feeling on making his long-awaited return from injury.
“It was tough at the start because when you return, there’s always the fear that you could get injured again. I became more assured as the match wore on but I still need two or three more games under my belt to feel fully fit.”
During a typically majestic display at the heart of midfield, a sparkling Pirlo pass to Alvaro Morata ultimately proved pivotal, with the Spaniard felled for the penalty that gave Juventus a slender first-leg advantage.
Ever the professional, the Azzurri international gave Sky Sport a brief step-by-step guide as to how the move manifested.
“We talked about it at the end of the first-half. Given that the defender was marking him, I told Alvaro to pretend to come towards me before making a dart in behind so that I could deliver the ball right in front of goal. His movement was great.”
Having won the Champions League twice before, Pirlo is no stranger to the challenges that entail when contesting on the European front, citing that every team represents a significant obstacle in the competition.
And with that thought in mind, the former Milan man was quick to point out that despite going into next week’s encounter with a deficit, Leonardo Jardim’s resolute Monaco outfit remain very much in the tie.
“We watched various clips on Monaco and knew that they’re an organised unit. This showed during the group stages when they conceded only one goal in six matches.
“We’re expecting them to adopt a similar approach in the return leg, possibly for three-quarters of the game, and then they’ll go for it late on. It’s vital we remain vigiliant, because there’s still all to play for in terms of a semi-final berth.”
Pirlo brought his interview to a close by lavishing praise on Bianconeri boss Massimiliano Allegri, who has continued to take the club from strength to strength in his debut season at the helm.
“The boss has instilled calm and taken pressure away from individual games. He’s made us avoid the train of thought that we have to win every match in order to make progress. This has given us more confidence, especially in the Champions League.”