Juventus midfielder Marchisio eyes treble but Atalanta target upset

Justin DAVIS
Juventus' midfielder Claudio Marchisio celebrates after scoring against Palermo during their Serie A match in February 2017

Midfielder Claudio Marchisio insists Juventus should confidently believe in their chance of an unprecedented club treble as they look to stretch their Serie A lead away to Atalanta on Friday.

"It's an obligation for us to believe in it at this point of the season," said Marchisio, who has struggled with injury throughout the campaign.

"With an eight-point lead in Serie A, a semi-final appearance in the Champions League and a place in the Italian Cup final, we have to believe, and be convinced."

In just his third season at the club, former AC Milan handler Massimiliano Allegri could steer Juve, beaten 3-1 by Barcelona in the 2015 Champions League final, to the club's second final appearance in the space of three years.

After ousting the Spanish league giants 3-0 on aggregate Juventus face Monaco away on May 3 then host the French Ligue 1 side in a decisive second leg six days later. Allegri's men have also booked a Cup final appearance with Lazio on June 2.

First up, though, is adding points to their Serie A tally -- Juve lead Roma by eight points -- although facing an ambitious Atalanta side at their intimidating Stadio Atleti Azzurri D'Italia ground is causing plenty of intrigue in Italy.

Gian Piero Gasperini's men are in the midst of their best season to date, sitting fifth in Serie A with a five-point lead on AC Milan as they chase a coveted place in next season's Europa League.

So far at home this season Atalanta have accounted for Napoli, Inter Milan and Roma and boast a clean sheet record that is second only to Juve.

Confidence isn't lacking in the Atalanta dressing room and, with the carrot of a Europa League place, Friday's clash could produce an upset.

"We've prepared well for a match that is crucial for our Europa League chances," said 20-year-old Bryan Cabezas, who came off the bench to make his debut in a recent 1-1 draw at Roma that all but ended the Giallorossi's fading championship hopes.

"The dressing room is fired up and confident we can beat Juventus."

But Juventus should feel confident, too, with the Turin giants -- bidding for a record sixth consecutive scudetto -- having scored 12 goals in their past five meetings with the men from Bergamo, all victories.

Although a treble is the objective, it won't be possible without what would be a 33rd Serie A title and Marchisio added: "If we sew up the league title, it will be the most important since we won the first one."