Gianfranco Zola analysed the free kick techniques of Paulo Dybala, Adem Ljajic and Miralem Pjanic ahead of Juventus-Torino.
‘Magic Box’ was one of the greatest free kick takers, so who better for Tuttosport to ask about the current crop of specialists, above all leading into tomorrow’s Derby della Mole?
“With so many talented free kick takers, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Turin Derby was decided by a dead-ball situation,” Zola told the newspaper.
“Dybala has a direct kick, the trajectory of the ball reminds me of Daniel Fonseca, my teammate at Napoli. Dybala has a fantastic left foot: the ball leaves his boot at such speed that either the goalkeeper guesses the right corner or he’ll struggle…
“Potentially, Paulo can become a top class free kick specialist. Time is on his side.”
Who did Zola look up to and learn from when he was developing?
“I started out with Michel Platini, then moved on to Diego Maradona and Zico. Dybala needs to choose an example to follow. As he is left-footed, if I were him, I’d watch some DVDs of Sinisa Mihajlovic. He was extraordinary and had an exceptional range of shots.”
Mihajlovic is now the Coach at Torino and it’s no coincidence he has been helping the Granata players on their free kicks in training.
“Ljajic isn’t as powerful with his set plays, but he does always find some marvellous trajectories. In terms of style, his free kicks are similar to those of Roberto Baggio.
“However, one of the best free kick specialists in the world right now is Pjanic. He’s probably the player I see myself in the most. He hits it a little harder than I did, but mine were extremely precise. When I made contact with the ball and looked up, I immediately knew if I had scored or not. I scored first with my eyes and then my feet.
“The most dangerous Pjanic free kick is around 10 metres outside the box.”
Zola even had the idea for a free kick showdown.
“We could do Argentina v Italy, Dybala and Maradona against me and Andrea Pirlo. Spectacular!”
Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://www.premiersports.com/subscribenow