Thursday May 15 2014
Pirlo backs Conte, Chiellini

Andrea Pirlo hopes Sunday is not Antonio Conte’s last game in charge, as he defends Giorgio Chiellini and outlines World Cup ambition.

Juventus face an uncertain period as they conclude a third consecutive Scudetto-winning season, with Coach Antonio Conte indicating that he may be prepared to walk away in the summer.

For the team’s central playmaker, hope remains that this is not the case.

“He has given us so much and I hope that Sunday is not his last game in black and white,” Pirlo has told Sky Sport 24 today.

“In three years he has taken us to three League titles, so I hope it is not his last game.

“And my own future? More or less we have reached an agreement on the contract, I hope the announcement is made in the next few days.”

Pirlo considered how the Bianconeri have managed to finish ahead of the rest once more this term and in doing so achieve a new points record of 99, which could be extended into treble figures after Week 38.

“It’s an important milestone. We have the opportunity to reach 102 points and we will not let it escape us.

“Our strength? In a team that was already united in spirit we have inserted Tevez and Llorente.

“But the winning factor has been the spirit of our group, the unity between the players and the Coach.

“The Europa League? It is a big regret, because I think that Juve are stronger than Benfica and Sevilla. Unfortunately we did not succeed.

“But the experience can be seen as a step in making it better.

“Winning in Europe is not easy, look at teams like PSG and Manchester United. Football is like this - a lot of teams play, but only one team wins. To win, it takes a serious project.”

Attention has focused this week on Giorgio Chiellini, having caught Miralem Pjanic with an elbow during Roma-Juventus last weekend, picked up a three-game ban, but avoided falling foul of Cesare Prandelli’s code of ethics with the national team.

“These are questions that belong to the Coach. For me it was not a violent act. Football is a contact sport. But it is the Coach who must evaluate the code of ethics.”

The World Cup will be Pirlo’s final major tournament with the Azzurri and he has reflected on expectation heading out to Brazil.

“The minimum objective is to progress from the group stage. Then we will see what will happen. Brazil is favoured but in football anything can happen.

“How much will the climate play its part? A lot, but this is an important factor for us and for everyone.”

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