Turin (AP) – The coach Andrea Pirlo is a bit reminiscent of the player Andrea Pirlo. You can’t see the 41 year old roaring or waving wildly from the sidelines. The novice coach on the bench in Juventus Turin coaches calmly and purposefully – a calm leader, just like a player.
On Sunday (8.45 p.m.) at the Serie A opener against Sampdoria Genoa, Pirlo immediately wants to prove that he is a similar exceptional talent as a player as a coach and that he can also lead a team from off the field.
Juventus is expected to have its tenth title in a row in the Italian football championship. But the rivals, especially the Europa League finalist Inter Milan, have been upgraded. “I know that victories are expected of me. That was already the case as a player and that will also be the case as a coach,” said Pirlo, who approaches his big task as a debutant calmly and confidently. “I think I’m in the right place at the right time.”
Last season was sobering for the club of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. The Serie A title was followed by the end of the Champions League round of 16. Coach Maurizio Sarri had to leave, hopes now rest on Pirlo, who originally would take over the Turin U23. When asked if he could be a “chosen one” as a coach – as is often assumed – the 2006 world champion replied with a grin: “As a player it has come true and now I hope the same thing will happen to me as a coach.”
In Serie A, Juves’ dominance with nine titles in a row is even more overwhelming than that of FC Bayern in the Bundesliga. Above all, Inter Milan wants to break through this series with ambitious coach Antonio Conte – most recently in second place just one point behind Juve. “I want to win the championship title, the last one for Inter was a few years ago,” announced former BVB professional Achraf Hakimi.
The Milanese continues to invest heavily, and FC Barcelona’s Arturo Vidal is yet to come. After the transfer of the Brazilian Arthur Melo for 72 million, Pirlo is still hoping for reinforcements in the attack. We are talking about Luis Suarez in Barcelona and Edin Dzeko in Rome. Former world champion Sami Khedira, on the other hand, should leave the club.
Outsider Atalanta Bergamo wants to play a good part in the title fight with both German Robin Gosens and Lazio Rome, even though both need more consistency for a shot at first place. All three pursuers will not start the new season until the end of September due to the recent performances of Bergamo and Inter in the European Cup.
Unlike in the Bundesliga, the Serie A season certainly starts without a spectator. The clubs are strongly calling for public admission, which is a drag on politics. The fans could therefore return to the stadiums at the earliest mid-October. Pirlo, who was used to being on the big stage as a player, will also make his debut on the coaching bench on Sunday without an audience.
The champion title alone will not be enough for the 41-year-old in the long run. At least since Ronaldo’s commitment in 2018, Juve has longed for triumph in the premier class. “We really want to show that Juve can claim the tenth championship title in a row and stay in the Champions League until the end,” Pirlo promised. Despite his inexperience, the expectations of the former world star are high. Pirlo only took the football player exam on Monday – the title of his dissertation: “My football”.