Thursday April 3 2014
‘Europa could be Juve’s first step’

Youri Djorkaeff has urged Juventus to take the Europa League seriously, considering it a possible ‘first step’ towards Champions League success.

The Bianconeri have struggled in their two seasons back in the Champions League under Antonio Conte, but find themselves favourites to pick up the Europa League, as they prepare for tonight’s quarter-final first leg with Lyon.

For Djorkaeff, reflecting on the differences in Serie A between his time as a player and today, he has urged that the Old Lady does not throw away this chance.

“[Back then it was] great championships, great players,” began the former Inter player to Tuttosport this week.

“Now…the level is a little below, perhaps that is why Juventus have struggled in the Champions League.

“But, I believe that there is very little needed for them to compete with the biggest in Europe, and the first step may just be winning this Europa League.”

Jose Mourinho commented last week that winning the competition for Juve would not represent ‘real success’.

“Mourinho is talking like that because that is Juventus…with Inter he would have said that the Europa League is the best competition in the world!

“I believe that many teams are wrong to snub the Europa League, but that this trend is being reversed - I see that the British and French are taking the competition seriously and if the French and Italians began to believe, the it would once again be as important as when it was called the UEFA Cup.

“I realise that the Champions League has engulfed a lot of media attention and the best teams, given that in some leagues it is down to fourth to qualify, but I think that for a club to win a trophy, it remains the most important thing of all.

“A trophy is a trophy, and a season with a European trophy remains in the history, whichever of the two it is - the Champions League or Europa League.

“So for me, it is worth a lot and is good for Juventus to try to win it.”

the 46-year-old cast his eye on tonight’s match for Juve.

“It will be a show because I think that Lyon have to play an attacking game to scare Juventus and they will be encouraged by their stadium, where I played often and I know how heated it can get.

“On the other hand, though, there is this Juventus that looks so crazy thanks to their Coach.

“I remember Conte well, when he played - he was my opponent so many times and now when I see the Bianconeri play I see him on the field.”