Thursday December 13 2018
Chiellini: ‘Icardi the toughest opponent’

Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini names Mauro Icardi of Inter as his toughest opponent - other than teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.

The centre-back was imperious against Icardi in the Derby d’Italia last Friday, but is full of respect for the Argentine.

“In my opinion, Icardi is the second best striker in the penalty box who I’ve ever marked,” Chiellini told DAZN.

“He chips away at you mentally, in the sense that you have to be concentrated all the time. I’ve only encountered one who is worse for that, but he’s playing with me this year!”

Chiellini then discussed the fortunes of his side, and was asked whether they have any defects.

“There are some, like that draw we had with Genoa. Those were definitely two points dropped, and with all due respect for Genoa we can’t afford to drop points to them at home.

“We’ve also been at 1-0 close to the end too many times. It’s almost always been fine because of our attitude, but against Manchester United we paid for it with interest.

“I’d say 1-0 is a perfect result up until about 60 minutes, then you need to get the second and manage things better.

“Not conceding gives you confidence for the next games, but having a little cushion means you expend less physical and mental energy.”

The veteran was then asked if he feels like part of a dying breed of old school defenders.

“Football is evolving, and that’s good,” Chiellini responded.

“It’s right to open up and learn new things, otherwise you’ll never improve. That said, it’d be nice to keep the Italian culture which allowed us to achieve great things.

“If I look back I think of [Fabio] Cannavaro, [Alessandro] Nesta, [Franco] Baresi, [Paolo] Maldini, then you can go back to [Claudio] Gentile and [Gaetano] Scirea.

“In short the history of Italian football has been made by great defenders, certainly not only them but I hope that in the future we can have stories of more great victories, possibly achieved thanks to great defenders.”