Juventus v Atalanta: Marchisio focused on Serie A not Europe
Juventus will not allow the distraction of the UEFA Champions League affect their focus on matters at hand in Serie A when they face Atalanta on Friday, says Claudio Marchisio.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side have yet to taste defeat in 2015 and go into the clash unbeaten in their last 14 league games – giving them a seven-point lead at the top of the table.
Victory on Friday would increase that to 10 points and apply further pressure on Roma and Napoli, who lead the chase to catch them with 15 games remaining.
The return of European competition for Juve next week means they must now exert themselves on three fronts – including the Coppa Italia – but Marchisio is adamant maintaining their league form is the top priority.
"We are fully focused on Serie A," Marchisio told Sky Sport Italia, with Juve facing Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
"We play Dortmund next week but we are not going to take our eye off the ball in terms of Serie A.
"We have a big game against Atalanta at the weekend and that is what we are focusing on."
Matches between the two sides have been fairly one-sided with Juve, as many would expect, dominating the head-to-head record.
The last nine meetings have all ended in victory for the champions, while Atalanta have not recorded a league win over Juve since February 2001.
Ending that 14-year wait will be tough for the strugglers given they are having a tough campaign in 2014-15.
After finishing in mid-table last season it was always going to be difficult for Stefano Colantuono's side to improve this term, and so it has proved with Atalanta firmly ensconced in the relegation battle.
They sit three points outside the danger zone, but, should they lose at Juve and Cagliari beat Inter on Monday, Atalanta would drop into the bottom three.
Back-to-back defeats is not the ideal way to prepare for a clash with the defending champions, though, and with three losses in their last four matches Atalanta will do well to get anything out of the game.
Goals have been hard to come by for the visitors this season, with only Parma and Chievo scoring fewer, and injuries to key players have provided further hindrance.
Top scorer Maxi Moralez suffered a calf problem against Inter last week and is a major doubt, while Nicolo Cherubin (calf) and the suspended Yohan Benalouane will definitely miss out
Carlos Carmona and Mauricio Pinilla are also banned, but Juve loanee Richmond Boakye is set to feature against his parent club.