Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has called for “one final effort” from his “fantastic” players to complete a perfect season for the club.
Speaking at a news conference in Turin, ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid, Allegri paid tribute to a team who have dominated Italian football in each of his three seasons in charge, winning consecutive Serie A and Coppa Italia Doubles.
He called on Juve to take the next step by lifting European club football’s biggest prize for the first time since 1996 to complete the Treble.
“My players have been fantastic,” he said. “They’ve had an extraordinary year and I thank them for that, but now we need one final effort and we need to be more motivated than they are.
“It was a difficult season in the league and we’ve done great things. Winning the Coppa Italia for a third year running was crazy, as was winning the Scudetto. We’ve filled our agenda month on month, which is how we wanted it, and now we are just lacking that final piece before we can go on holiday.
“Juve have got to be used to being among the top eight and experiencing events like these without anxiety. We’ve got to treat this week like we are preparing for a normal game, and then when we get to Cardiff we will make it a great evening.”
Allegri, whose Juve suffered defeat to Barcelona in the 2015 Champions League final, has also tried to shift some of the pressure off his team by branding Madrid as favourites, although he does believe his side will be better prepared for this game than they were in Berlin two years ago.
“We’ve got a great squad and this is our second final in three years, in addition to a great round-of-16 tie [with Bayern Munich in 2016], even if we were knocked out,” he said. “We’ve developed more positivity and conviction. Our self-belief has grown since Berlin, and this is an important thing when it comes to games like these.
“That eases my mind. We’ve grown a lot: I, the team, the club and the fans. We’re in the mix and it’s great to be there. On Monday, when we look back on these three years, we’ve got to count ourselves satisfied. But we’ve got to come back with the cup.
“This is the second biggest game of my career. I lost the first in Berlin and on Saturday, we’ve got to win. We’ve got to win with great humility and determination. We need to keep a good balance and ensure we are always in the game. Finals can take a turn at any moment.
“We go there with more conviction than we had two years ago, but then again we are still up against Real. They are the favourites. Real are in their third [Champions League] final in four years and are used to playing in them, even though we have been there twice in three years. It will be a wonderful event and we deserve to be there. Getting to the Champions League final gives me great joy, and I’m lucky to be able to sit on the bench in Cardiff on Saturday.”
It will be Juve’s ninth European Cup or Champions League final and while they have only won two and lost six of their previous eight, Allegri says it is important that they look on the bright side.
“Negativity breeds negativity and positivity breeds positivity,” he said. “When I arrived here, there was a huge negative atmosphere. Look at it like this: Juventus have played in eight finals, not lost six of them. If we win, everybody will be happier, but getting here is important.
“There’s only one Champions League final each year, like the Super Bowl, and we are in it. We’ve got to be ready for it, but I don’t like this negativity.”
Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini added: “We do not want to repeat the mistakes we made in Berlin. It is in my nature to try and take the positives out of every experience, even from the bad times.”