Andrea Pirlo slammed “loser” Walter Mazzarri, called Zdenek Zeman “strange” and pledged to get a Mario Balotelli haircut if Juventus won the Champions League.
The 33-year-old midfielder gave a rare interview to Tuttosport ahead of tonight’s Serie A opener against Parma. Click here for a match preview.
“It is odd starting again with Parma on home turf. I hope it brings good luck,” said Pirlo in reference to last year’s opening match in Turin that started the Scudetto season.
“This year our targets remain the same: continuing to affirm ourselves in Italy and try to carry that on to Europe. Clearly everyone is waiting for us to fail – it’s only normal, as winning does tend to irritate others. It is also normal to have more pressure, but we know that we are strong and can get even better.
“Winning the Champions League would be a dream come true for me, the club and my teammates. If it were to happen... I’d get a Mohican haircut like Balotelli!
“Barcelona and Real Madrid remain the favourites. European commitments do take something off you in physical and psychological terms, while the travel alone is tiring and your adrenaline needs to be on constantly. It takes the maximum concentration and a big squad.”
Coach Antonio Conte works with the side in training, but his 10-month ban means he cannot sit on the bench or enter the locker room on match day.
“We are concentrated on the day to day work, without making anything too extreme. After all, our staff is innocent and we can focus only on playing football. At the end of the day, that proved to be easier than expected.
“The anti-Juve Scudetto contenders will be Napoli, Roma, Milan and Inter. The possible surprise could be Fiorentina, who signed quality midfielders like Borja Valero and have a super Coach like Vincenzo Montella. With or without Stevan Jovetic, they still play well.”
Pirlo was asked to comment on the opposition tacticians who have been highly critical of Juventus recently and his verdicts were not kind.
“Zeman is a special Coach, one who stirs up debate. He is a great tactician and his teams play really well. Every now and then he says something strange off the field, but that’s part of his character and by now we accept that.
“Mazzarri talks like a loser, though. When you lose it’s normal to cling to everything, as there is disappointment, but we are accustomed to the battle of words. Juve are the most famous club, perhaps in the world, with many fans and many hoping we’ll fail. It’s only normal to expect them to gang up on you when you win.”
Pirlo has been particularly impressed with new signing Paul Pogba, who arrived on a free transfer from Manchester United.
“He really is remarkable. He’s a young lad with prospects and it was a great move to snatch him from such an important club.”
The Italy hero was key in reaching the Euro 2012 Final against Spain and is keeping his fingers crossed for the 2014 World Cup.
“I hope to get there, as I’ve never been to Brazil. The Final defeat left only bitterness, cancelling out all the achievements to get there. It’s true our journey was positive, but if you don’t win then it feels as if you didn’t do anything.
“The dreams of the fans who became passionate about the tournament are to be underlined, but the adventure concluded with a defeat and we were upset.
“When will I retire? I will stay on the field as long as I have the desire to work, feel in good shape and have fun. My passion for this sport is worked on every day. A future as a Coach? I haven’t thought about it yet, as I see myself only as a player.”