Juventus bet on Pirlo becoming new Zidane, Guardiola

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Milan (AFP)

First coaching position and already high expectations, the arrival of Andrea Pirlo at Juventus has raised hopes in Italy to be able to follow the managerial success of Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola.

The 41-year-old former Italy and Juventus star was promoted to the top job in Turin just a week after being named coach of their U23 squad.

“Andrea Pirlo is starting a path that may one day lead him to the top of the first team,” club president Andrea Agnelli said on July 31.

A week later, Pirlo has already succeeded Maurizio Sarri after the nine-time defending Italian champion crashed out of the Champions League in the last 16 games.

“A team is made up of dynamics, interpersonal relationships, expressions,” Agnelli said of Pirlo’s arrival at the club.

And Pirlo speaks the language of the players, with four league titles won at Juventus between 2011 and 2015, before ending his playing career in November 2017 after three seasons in MLS.

“Even during the years away from the club, I kept the connections,” said Pirlo, from Brescia.

“It was normal for me to live in Turin and it is normal to return to work here.

“I prefer to be invested with a great responsibility, it makes me feel alive”, he explained, adding that his ambition was “to repeat the career which I carried out as a player”.

Contemporaries Zidane and Guardiola both achieved this feat with Real Madrid and Barcelona.

But Zidane – who lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy’s Pirlo – spent two years with Real Madrid’s B squad and Barcelona’s second tier Guardiola before stepping up and win the Champions League with the first teams.

“Guardiola and Zidane? Everyone would love to have the same trip, “Pirlo said,” but you have to earn it by gaining experience. ”

Naples coach Gennaro Gattuso believes it will be a steep climb for his former Italy and AC Milan team-mate.

“Happy the one who started immediately at Juventus, I say this because it is a difficult job, it is not enough to have a good football career behind him”, said Gattuso after the elimination of Napoli from the Champions League against Barcelona.

“We have to study and work, we sleep little. I wish him the best of luck. ”

– ‘Predestined’ –

Pirlo’s appointment is, however, seen as natural for Juventus whose global brand was bolstered following the € 100million ($ 115million) signing of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018.

Fashion and wine lover, Pirlo is seen as a more natural fit for the club’s ambitions to create an overall cool lifestyle brand to attract untapped markets in North America and Asia.

“It was a very Juventus decision, very natural, we think he could be predestined, he was as a player that he can become as a coach,” said football director Fabio Paratici.

“In his head, he has everything to succeed. He’s a boy who has been with us, who has played with us, who has always been in contact with us.

“We are in uncharted territory, no one has won nine league titles in a row, no one has had such a long cycle of wins and changes. ”

But winning Serie A is not enough as his predecessors Massimiliano Allegri and Sarri have seen.

And how Pirlo can help Juventus realize their biggest dream of a first Champions League title since 1996 remains to be seen.

Former Juventus coach Fabio Capello believes Pirlo “has very advanced ideas about football”.

“He’s a midfielder on and off the pitch, he watches and studies everything. He has had very important coaches, so he doesn’t lack anything to do well, ”said Capello.

Juventus have conceded 43 Serie A goals, their highest total in nearly a decade, with Ronaldo’s 37 goals carrying the team both at home and in Europe.

“I wondered where to put the players in the middle of the night, rather than sleeping,” said Pirlo, who also won two Champions League titles under Carlo Ancelotti at AC Milan.

“What shape would I use?” The 4-3-3, all on and off.

“It really depends on the players available, maybe you find that they adapt better to another system.

“Maybe you realize that the players you thought you were in one way are another way.

“At this point you have to adapt. If you push yourself, you waste time and they don’t deliver. “

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