Juventus wake up today knowing they have a Champions League final to look forward to in three weeks time. Following a 2-1 victory over Monaco Tuesday night, which means a 4-1 win on aggregate, the Bianconeri booked their return to the contest they lost back in 2015. Having knocked out Barcelona in the previous round, Juve finally got revenge on the team that prevented them from winning Europe’s premier prize. Now, they have a chance to right the wrongs of the final itself when they come up against Real Madrid in Cardiff on Saturday, June 3.
The club is no doubt already relishing the challenge, but they need to be wary of letting it affect them too much. There’s still a Serie A title to be won, as well as a Coppa Italia final to be played next Wednesday against Lazio, and it would be a shame if the distraction of a Champions League final seen the club falter in other competitions. The European tournament may be the main priority, but Juve are in search of a bigger achievement than just their third European cup.
All season long, this club have had ambitions of a historic treble, and are now only one win away in each competition from achieving that. The final will be played against Real Madrid, which lost Wednesday to Atletico Madrid but advanced on aggregate, and will be the toughest test Juve have left to face.
But Juve face another challenge and obstacle to their treble ambitions. And that is themselves. If they focus too much on the final in Cardiff, or if Max Allegri chooses to rest players with an eye on June 3, Juve are at risk of undoing all their good work. It is of course understandable if this occurs, because many teams who get to the Champions League final find it even harder to return. Despite the upheaval and several changes the squad has seen since the final in Berlin in the summer of 2015, the Bianconeri are back in the biggest contest of club football. Knowing how hard it is to get there could see the club throw all of its eggs into one basket.
It would be a shame, however, as Juventus have come too far, handled too many challenges to suddenly cast their focus away from the domestic competitions. All they need is three points to seal a sixth successive Serie A title; or if they manage to avoid defeat in Rome at the weekend that will also be good enough. They have been boosted by the news that Edin Dzeko won’t be available due to a calf injury, a huge blow for Roma’s ever-decreasing title hopes. The match will still be tough, though. Roma may have accepted that first place is out of reach for another year, but they would hate if Juve’s celebrations occurred on their home patch. The Bianconeri will be facing a team given their all for a positive result, and a defeat would pile unnecessary pressure for the remaining fixtures. Juve’s players will need to put the upcoming Champions League final to one side and focus on securing the league & cup double, which could even happen in the next week.
The Coppa Italia final meeting with Lazio has been changed to May 17 due to Juve’s success in the Champions League and advancement to next month’s final. This means within a matter of days the Bianconeri could grab two of the three titles they’re chasing. What momentum that would provide heading into the final in June. Lazio & Roma will prove tough opponents, and tired legs could be a problem. While Allegri and his coaching staff will need to find a way of dealing with that, finally winning the league title, and emerging victorious in the Coppa Italia, would allow for much rest over the next fortnight ahead of the final in Cardiff.
Reaching the Champions League final is a great achievement — especially for a club that has been written off as prime European contenders time and time again. But until the domestic tournaments are secured the club must remain focused in their search for history. It would take a huge collapse of concentration for the squad to surrender their stronghold on the league now, and they are considered overwhelming favourites against Lazio. If they manage to stay focused and take each game as they come, they’ll have two prizes to pick up in the next week.
The anticipation of Cardiff is exciting, but Juventus are a club which celebrates trophies and not finals.