Wednesday June 10 2020
Chiellini: 'Zlatan brought out best in me'

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini explained the differences between Antonio Conte, Max Allegri and Maurizio Sarri, and confessed facing Zlatan Ibrahimovic ‘brought out the best’ in him.

Serie A is set to resume, and the Bianconeri captain has returned to the fold after recovering from the serious injury at the start of the campaign.

Even at 35, he is as hungry as ever and claimed there’s an unwritten rule between defenders and attackers in football.

“In the end, it’s always a one-on-one, your death is my life,” he told Corriere dello Sport. “Call it what you want, but between the defender and the attacker, that’s how it is. If you are in acceptable range…”

Juventus sit first in Serie A and prepare to resume the Scudetto fight, as Sarri tries to follow his successful predecessors Conte and Allegri.

Chiellini explained that Conte ‘built the foundation’ that led to eight straight titles, whilst Allegri was the most ‘sensitive’ out of the three.

“With Conte, we started from scratch, we started from a very low base and built the foundations of the house,” the 35-year-old added. “Antonio is a person who, as I wrote [in the autobiography], who brings you to a different connection.

“He gives you a lot and demands a lot. Sometimes it exasperates you, but you’re with him till death. In my opinion, he created the compactness that was fundamental for Juve.

“Max is an aesthete. He is very bright, lighter, in the five years he has gown exponentially, he knows how to lower and raise the tone. He has a sensitivity that I haven’t found in many people, and I’m not just talking about coaches.

“Over the years, it has conquered and bewitched me.

“Sarri is more meticulous, therefore more similar to Conte than to Allegri, but with different principles and systems.

“He relies heavily on numbers, he is a lover of the game, of ball possession. He is a utopian and is the first to admit it, never satisfied, always pursuing perfection.”

Chiellini admitted he has struggled to keep out Cristiano Ronaldo but revealed Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been the opponent who brought the best out of him.

“Cristiano scored a lot of goals, but Ibra was the one who entered my heart,” the veteran defender confessed. “We were teammates at first, I was very young, I always tried to measure myself with him.

“I followed him everywhere, also to get credit from my teammates and the coach. Accepting a one-on-one with Ibra meant earning respect.”

“I never pulled back and I came out stronger and more convinced from every challenge with him, he brought out the best in me. I admire him a lot.”

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