Friday August 18 2017
Del Piero: Juve still favourites

Alessandro Del Piero asks people to “trust” him when he says Juventus remain favourites for the Scudetto.

The likes of Inter and Milan strengthening this summer, plus Napoli holding onto their stars, has led many to believe 2017-18 will be the closest Serie A campaign in years, but Del Piero expects his former club to “resist the competition”.

“Juve remain the favourites, trust me,” he told Corriere della Sera.

“That’s because in recent years, the distance between their opponents has been so big. “Therefore, their difficulties at this stage, such as the Supercoppa defeat, mustn’t lead to any hasty conclusions.

“Do you remember their disastrous start of two seasons ago? Eventually, the team’s quality rose to the top. The moot point isn’t so much in absolute value but rather motivation.

“The old guard and new boys will resist the competition, but only if they’re at their best.

“It’s not easy to start again after six League titles, neither is it after [the Champions League Final in] Cardiff, which still hurts.

“Bonucci? He’s a great player and he’d been living in tandem with the [Juve] team. Juve raised him and he raised Juve.

“I would’ve never expected him to leave or that the club would decide to do without him.

“It surprised me and admittedly it won’t be easy to replace him, but the club’s history proves that the loss of a key figure, even if it’s the best player, isn’t enough to weaken the structure if the foundations are solid, which they are.

“Napoli will be Juventus’ biggest rivals [for the title], you’ll see. They’ve been very smart in the market.

“They aimed to consolidate an extraordinary group, who have developed with the philosophy of an excellent Coach.

“If they qualify for the Champions League group stage, I think they will give themselves a further boost in the market.”

“Dybala? He’s shown since his first game for Juve that he has everything to wear their No 10 jersey, not only in technical terms but also psychology and character,” he added.

“I hope he enjoys wearing the number and what it represents.

“Zidane? He’s done so well, perhaps his relatives didn’t even see it coming! But sincerely speaking, I was convinced he’d do well for Real.

“He knows how to manage their champions, respect them and win them over. He reminds me of Ancelotti in this regard.

“I know his sensitivity and temper, and I know how he sees football: he’s sees it a moment before the others, like the greats.

“Neymar’s transfer? If he was a NBA player, we wouldn’t be shocked. The problem is that the rules aren’t the same in football as in American sports.”