Speaking in a press conference ahead of Italy’s opening World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland, Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini discussed his international future as well as the difficult time his club is going through.
His comments have come in the wake of directors Fabio Paratici and Pavel Nedvěd confirming that Andrea Pirlo would be staying on as Bianconeri manager for the season to come.
His words transcribed in Corriere dello Sport, the Azzurri captain explained that the manager was not the reason for recent poor results for the Bianconeri, while also looking ahead to the challenges posed by Ian Baraclough’s team.
“The team [Juventus] hasn’t been doing as well as expected, but the issue isn’t Pirlo, it’s Juventus in general. Nedvěd and Paratici have cleared up the situation very well and I have nothing else to add.”
On whether he will be at the 2022 World Cup
“I’m starting this journey off and not thinking too far ahead. I’m living it in the moment because I’m feeling well – I was saying this at the start of the Nations League qualifications against Poland. I like being with this group of players because there’s a great atmosphere. Whether that’s for one or ten games, it gives you a lot.”
On Northern Ireland’s strengths
“Their physicality and the fact that it won’t be easy to undermine them. That’s not just me saying it, but their past qualifiers, seeing as they’ve posed problems to The Netherlands and Germany as well. If you do what’s expected, you’ll give them trouble because they’re missing something on the technical front. […] Mentally we’ll have to be good at adapting to the game and reacting if there’s some initial difficulty.”
On Cesare Prandelli’s resignation as Fiorentina manager
“I was sorry to see it. I wasn’t completely surprised, because after the Benevento match his words made me think. Knowing him, I was aware that something going on, that his words were heartfelt and were coming from within. I don’t know the reasons for it, but I’ve sent him a message. I hope that the distress goes away and that he still values football, Fiorentina and everything else, beyond his managerial career. This distress hurts to hear, knowing the person he is and who we’ve all known.”