Monday was a day of awards, as the Ballon d’Or was handed to Luka Modric, with Cristiano Ronaldo finishing second and Mario Mandzukic 25th, and Serie A held its Gran Galà. Juventus triumphed as best team of last season, Massimiliano Allegri prevailed as best coach and four and a half Bianconeri got into the ideal XI: Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Miralem Pjanic and Paulo Dybala, while Joao Cancelo was recognized for what he did last year at Inter.
Several personalities spoke to the journalists during the event. The captain Chiellini had the most interesting interview and began by remembering Davide Astori: “He was a nice guy, with many hobbies and full of joy. I can not imagine the pain of his family. The Fiorentina game was the right occasion to show that we love and esteem Davide. It was an important gesture.”
Then he got into some Juventus-related topics, starting with who hypes up the players before the games: “The coach is our guide, he is like a chef that puts the ingredients at the right moment. He know what to say and when to do it, but there is not a precise routine.”
On the summer movements: “We knew Gianluigi Buffon would leave. His presence is noticeable, especially off the pitch, where he was a reference point for the foreigners. Cristiano Ronaldo filled that natural void. Some criticized Leonardo Bonucci, but it is as if he never left. He is fundamental, we play well off each other, enhancing our virtues.”
“We can keep up this pace, we have already dealt with some absences. A regular XI is forming, while we did not have that at the beginning of the year. A tumble here and there will occur, it is normal. We were great in Milan and Florence, we were super tired on Friday but we gave our whole mentally. We will need the full roster. Somebody is playing less now, but they will be useful down the line.”
On Cristiano Ronaldo: “He realized that there is an important team behind him, especially after what happened in Valencia. We improved our self-confidence, he is the cherry on top. He has an incredible work ethic, he is certainly an example. He is giving us something similar to what Andrea Pirlo did in 2011: he is elevating the ones around him. Champions League will be a jungle from March on, but he can be a deciding factor.”
“We have done well in the past few years, we are celebrating last season here. We can take a moment to rejoice, but we are focused on the upcoming month. We had the right approach so far, but there are many games left and we will take stock at the end of December. The Inter game will be a head-to-head clash, it is a sort of match of the year. They have great players.”
“I was impressed by Roberto Mancini, the squad was devastated after the elimination, but he gave it the right confidence and serenity.”
Paulo Dybala talked about his role: “The coach gives me the freedom to move around and I try to find the right spot to hurt the opponents. I just want to be helpful, everybody needs to sacrifice a little. Some traps can be just around the corner if we underestimate the opponent. We are aware of our strength, but we must never lower the bar. Our focus always has to be on point and we must always train hard. I have never scored against Inter, I would like to rectify that.”
Fabio Paratici weighed in on the transfer market: “The president, Pavel Nedved and I conduct it, with some help from the coach. We are always on the lookout for ways to improve the team, but we have great players on the roster and we enjoy them, it is not easy to have so many of them. Paul Pogba is an outstanding player and we are attached to jhim, but he is at Manchester United and therefore we focus on our own, who are equally good. As far as the Inter game goes, we focus match after match, without looking ahead. We will not take the standings into consideration, it is too early. I wish Giuseppe Marotta good luck, we are happy he landed in such an important club. We will be enemies, but I owe him a lot humanly and professionally.”
Miralem Pjanic took the floor next: “There is still a long way to go, it is hard to shake off the chasers, but it is up to us. We have a nice team that is producing good results now. Winning now is fine but we have not done anything yet. We want to win everything, we have to be in the right position in March. We are happy that the VAR was introduced in Champions League, there was some skepticism at first, but it is a useful instrument. It can be improved, but it helps a lot, the games are more serene with it. The Inter game will be tough, they have an excellent coach, we will try to do our best. I believe Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City to be our main foes in Champions League, but we believe in our skills and we can compete with everybody.”
Pavel Nedved closed out the soiree: “The players and the coach are our driving forces. We are all very proud for this award. I have been lucky to play in an age with great champions in Italy and that is coming back, Serie A could return on top of the word. The Inter clash is super important, we hope to be ready. The Scudetto race is not closed at all, the season is very long.”
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