Not since February 1997 and victory against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Super Cup has Juventus's name been etched on any continental silverware. The Bianconeri, though, are a mere two games away from potentially correcting that statistic within the confines of their own stadium, venue for the UEFA Europa League final on 14 May.
That prospect is keeping Claudio Marchisio going as he nears the end of an arduous campaign with his home-town side. "Many players in this team have never won a European competition and Juventus haven't won a trophy in Europe for so many years," the Italy midfielder told UEFA.com. "When you reach this stage of the competition motivation can make the difference. So even if we're coming to the end of the season and our legs are beginning to feel heavy, the trophy can give you that energy to give that bit extra."
When the Old Lady commenced their European season in the UEFA Champions League, the knowledge that the UEFA Europa League final was being held at the Juventus Stadium will have been nothing more than a source of pride for Italy's most decorated club. However, since transferring into the competition at the turn of the year, it is something that has taken on new meaning for all concerned.
"We knew this right from the start when we began in the group stage of the Champions League," said the 28-year-old Marchisio, who is on the verge of his 200th league appearance for Juventus. "When we didn't qualify and moved into the knockout phase of the Europa League, the fact that the final would be at home clearly gave us an added boost."
Standing between Juventus and a place in the decider are the 2013 runners-up SL Benfica, who at the weekend wrapped up the Portuguese Liga title with two matches to spare and boast impressive pedigree in the tournament. "We'll come up against a side that in recent years, not only in their own league but in competitions like the Europa League, have done really well, even if they have lost some finals," said Marchisio, mindful that this will be the Eagles' third appearance at this juncture in four seasons.
"Clearly they have the experience and the players with the qualities and characteristics to cause us difficulty. We have to think about them and think of the game as another final. There will be two quality teams that will try and put on a spectacle in these two matches. For our part, we hope we have the right belief to reach our objective, which is to play the final in Turin."
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