‘More mature’ Lazio ready to challenge Juventus, even if title is out of sight

While Lazio manager Stefano Piolo concedes 'even a win in Turn for us would change little' in terms of the scudetto, he vows his side 'have a chance to win this game' against Juventus.

Lazio's Miroslav Klose celebrates after scoring during their Serie A win over Empoli last Sunday. Ettore Ferrari / AP / April 12, 2015
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Lazio coach Stefano Pioli has played down suggestions that equalling Sven Goran Eriksson's club record of nine consecutive wins will put them within sight of challenging Juventus for the Serie A title.

Lazio have replaced city rivals AS Roma in second spot in the Italian top flight and sit 12 points behind Juventus ahead of their top-of-the-table clash in Turin later Saturday.

Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri underlined the danger of Pioli’s visitors when he said the game was a “title decider”.

But Pioli said: “Juventus have too much of a lead for us to become a threat. Even a win in Turin for us would change little.”

Nevertheless, Lazio travel north on the back of eight consecutive league wins that has seen Pioli’s men take their goals tally to 58 for the season – one more than Juve’s total of 57.

A ninth consecutive win would see Pioli equal a club record set by Sven Goran Eriksson, who led Lazio to their second scudetto in 2000.

Pioli, meanwhile, claims a “more mature” Lazio have learned their lesson from a 3-0 defeat to Juventus in the Italian capital at the end of November.

“That game served as a lesson for us. We were far too generous and made the mistake of trying not to concede goals, and we lost our focus,” he added.

“Now, the squad is more intelligent and more mature. This time, we’ll be a lot more compact and that will allow us to concentrate on our own game.

“We have a chance to win this game and we’ll certainly try. But trying to equal the record has never been on our minds, we simply try to focus on one match at a time.”

Juventus are looking to make up for last week’s shock 1-0 defeat away to Parma, and the club were also in action in midweek when they laboured to a 1-0 win over AS Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

Allegri, for one, is not underestimating the task against a side which he said is having an “extraordinary season”.

“Tomorrow’s game could decide the scudetto. Lazio are having an extraordinary season and will come here on the back of eight straight wins.

“At the start of the season nobody would have imagined they’d be where they are now. They can still reach 82 points and Roma 81, so nothing’s settled yet.”

Allegri will still be without injured Paul Pogba but is set to hand Andrea Pirlo a start at the centre of midfield after the Italy international made his return from a five-week injury lay-off in midweek.

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