Fabio Capello insists Napoli are the only other contenders for the Scudetto and considers tonight’s battle between Roma and Juventus.
The Russia manager has won the title in both Rome and Turin, so this evening’s game is particularly special.
“Juve are the favourites for the Scudetto, but in the summer I had promised Roma would be one of their main rivals,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“They introduced many interesting young players to an already competitive group. After the Luis Enrique experiment, Franco Baldini had gone for guarantees with Zdenek Zeman, but it’s difficult from a distance to know what went wrong.
“It all seemed right at the start of the season and the fans were happy, then you look at the table, get frightened and the Coach pays the price. It happened to me at Milan, even if there the divorce was at the end of the season.
“I’m not surprised by Francesco Totti’s performances, as a champion like Totti, Alessandro Del Piero, Paolo Maldini or Billy Costacurta wants to stay at that level and so sacrifices something in their private life to be even better on the field. That is Totti’s secret.
“I have a weakness for Erik Lamela, as I like the way he moves, kicks and he has something more than Mattia Destro and Daniel Osvaldo. I am curious to see Miralem Pjanic at work.”
Juventus are also familiar to Capello, whose two Scudetti were stripped in the Calciopoli scandal of 2006.
“Juve are the strongest team out there, aided by the fact this year Milan and Inter were not 100 per cent competitive. I like their approach, as they are attentive in defence, but still want to play good football. They never throw the ball away.
“Napoli are the only real challengers and Walter Mazzarri has done a great job. They are right behind Juve even after losing Ezequiel Lavezzi.
“Last year I was in the stands for the Champions League games between Napoli and Manchester City, so realised Edinson Cavani is on another level. He runs, battles, scores goals on the counter and in the box, maybe even surrounded by four or five opponents. Mazzarri deserves credit for turning Cavani into a total player and not just a hitman.”
Capello also commented on Juve’s European exploits after conquering Celtic Park 3-0.
“As for the Champions League, they are not the strongest side, but neither were Chelsea last year. They will be the loose cannon in a tournament that sees Barcelona and Real Madrid as favourites. Don’t think Real are dead after their 1-1 draw with Manchester United.
“This Juve reminds me of mine because of the mentality,” continued Capello. “They win and turn the page, raising the bar a little bit higher so they are never sated. Mirko Vucinic is also doing a marvellous job completing Andrea Pirlo’s work.
“Every time I see Pirlo play, I get enthusiastic. He is an ageless champion and Milan really did give the Bianconeri a fantastic gift by letting him go.”
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