Andrea Pirlo exudes composure and shows little emotion on the sidelines but that is only half the story according to Christian Vieri, who believes the “fun” first-year head coach can lead Juventus to a clean sweep of silverware in Turin.
Eyebrows were raised when nine-time reigning Serie A champions Juve turned to club great but unproven coach Pirlo following the dismissal of Maurizio Sarri at the end of the 2019-20 season.
Pirlo had only re-joined Juve as Under-23s head coach a week earlier before the Bianconeri gave the 41-year-old his first senior coaching role at the Italian powerhouse, where he won four Scudetto titles among other honours during an illustrious playing career.
While there have been teething issues and a stuttering start, World Cup winner Pirlo has already tasted success for the first time as a coach in the Supercoppa Italiana, while Juve are seven points off the pace in Serie A, through to the Champions League last 16 and preparing for Tuesday’s mouth-watering Coppa Italia semi-final against Inter.
Vieri spent time with Pirlo at Inter and within the Italy national team and he talked up the playful side of his former team-mate – who remains in the hunt for a Serie A, Champions League and Coppa Italia treble in his maiden season at the helm.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) February 1, 2021
“Listen, Juventus can win anything every year. They have a fantastic side,” Vieri, who won the 1997 Scudetto with Juve before later joining Inter for a then-world record fee in 1999, told Stats Perform News. “When you have Cristiano Ronaldo with you, you always start 1-0.
“Pirlo is a fun guy. He is the opposite of what everyone sees. He is a fun dude, he takes the p*** out of you the whole day.
“Of course, everyone is different on TV, right? He is calmer. You never see him go crazy. He is the opposite of [Antonio] Conte. You see Conte, it’s like he is playing.
“It’s his first experience. He is having a good time. He won a trophy already. You win games and lose games, it’s part of coaching. Maybe lose more games than win, some coaches do that. But he is happy coaching, that’s what he wanted to do.
“He has an amazing team. He can everything this season. Let’s see what happens. Nine years in a row winning the Scudetto, of course, sooner or later you will lose it because motivation-wise, you can’t have that motivation every year.”
Inter will host Juventus in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final at San Siro on Tuesday.
It will be a chance for Juve to avenge their previous Derby d’Italia loss to Inter, who outclassed Pirlo’s men 2-0 in Serie A action on January 17.
Inter – boasting the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, Achraf Hakimi and Nicolo Barella – are widely viewed as the favourites to put an end to Juve’s domestic dominance, which dates back to 2011.
The Nerazzurri, where Vieri spent six successful years, are second and only two points behind leaders Milan through 20 Serie A matchdays.
“If you want to win these types of matches, there’s very little margin for error.”
— Inter (@Inter_en) February 1, 2021
But Italian great Vieri believes Juve remain the “strongest team in Italy” due to their depth.
“They have 23 fantastic players,” the 47-year-old added. “They have a big, long bench. [Paulo] Dybala stays on the bench, [Juan] Cuadrado stays on the bench, Arthur stays on the bench… they’re fantastic players.
“I don’t think the other benches are as strong as Juve’s. I think Juve are still the strongest. But motivation wise, you can’t win forever.
“Inter have a fantastic team this season. Hakimi, [Arturo] Vidal, [Ashley] Young, [Alessandro] Bastoni, they’re all good players. They’re solid, more solid defensively than three-four months ago. Up front they’re fantastic. Anyone can win.
“Against Juve, Inter played fantastically [in Serie A]. Technical wise, physically. Let’s see what happens in the semi-final.”
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