Andrea Pirlo is ready to take on the man responsible for redefining his playing position, whilst also confirming that Juventus will be his last club in Italy, stating he may leave the club if the Bianconeri overcome the odds to win the Champions League this June.
After winning what was his fourth Scudetto in a row with Juve on the weekend, Pirlo’s attention turned to the huge semi-final clash against Real Madrid:
I hope this winning cycle will end with a Champions League triumph. It would be a dream end for my spell here and a great day for everybody at the club. Yes, if we win it, I might move abroad because Juventus will be my last team in Italy.
We have deservedly reached the semi-finals; we can compete with any team now – it will be 50-50 against Madrid. Even if other teams have great players who are more used to playing at this level, even if they have made more expensive signings to arrive here, we have nothing to lose, especially if we play with intelligence and courage.
We saw Atlético Madrid last year: they had not spent as much as other top clubs but still managed to reach the final and were so close to winning it. We will try to follow their example and do even better. We are not favourites but we will certainly give it a try to go as far as possible.
The intriguing tie also pits Pirlo against former mentor, now coach at Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti – the man responsible for redefining Pirlo’s position from a traditional trequartista to a deeper-laying regista whilst at AC Milan, allowing the playmaker to truly flourish and fulfil his potential.
Ancelotti was like a father to me. We spent several years together. He changed my position on the pitch, we lived unforgettable moments and won so much together.
So is the bearded playmaking genius worried that Ancelotti might be the one to succeed where so many have failed, and find a way to nullify his threat from midfield where he exudes an aura of calmness to all those around?
I hope to have some space against Madrid, some freedom, but it’s not that important. I have played for years with a man marking me closely for the entire game and I have always done well anyway. I’m used to it.
Madrid have several players who can do this role, even from other positions, like Kroos and Isco for example. And then there are more attacking players, like James Rodríguez, who move deeper and sacrifice themselves for the good of the team. This is the most important factor of all. And that’s why I love players like Iniesta and Xavi, who have great talent but always put the team first.
Famously, Pirlo almost joined his next opponents in the wake of the Calciopoli scandal, and whilst still in awe of their name, confirmed he has no regrets about the path his illustrious career has taken.
Real is Real. You read that name and you understand that you are talking about the most important club in the world. Fabio Capello wanted me there and Milan had some problems with the Calciopoli scandal. The deal was ready, almost done, but then I decided to stay at Milan and I’m happy I did so, because then we won the Champions League that season. I have no regrets for not having played in other top leagues like La Liga or the Premier League. I’m Italian and I have played with the three top clubs in the country, I’m more than happy with my career.