Pirlo: ‘Roma among the best in Italy’

Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo called Cristiano Ronaldo ‘a hero’, expects great football from Roma and pointed at the defeat to Inter as the turning point.

The Old Lady host Roma in Serie A on Saturday and Pirlo said his men must ‘make few mistakes’ to succeed against the Giallorossi.

“It will be a match against a team that, in my opinion, plays some of the best football in Italy,” Pirlo said at a press conference.

“They have great players, and we will have to be focused on the counters. We have to make few mistakes.”

Pirlo confirmed Paulo Dybala and Aaron Ramsey are not ready to return against the Giallorossi and said the Inter defeat helped the Bianconeri ‘mentally’.

“We have improved a lot mentally,” he added. “The defeat at San Siro surely helped us to understand that we always need to be focused.

“We are improving on all aspects. Unfortunately, we have little time to train, but by making some more videos, we could perhaps catch something.

“Dybala is still out, Ramsey did something with us, but they are not available.”

Cristiano Ronaldo turns 36 today and Pirlo praised the Portuguese.

“I knew about the professional, but seeing him train every day was a surprise,” Pirlo said. “He still has great passion, he has fun.

“If you still have this desire, it means you are a hero. He has it, like [Gigi] Buffon, [Giorgio] Chiellini, [Leo] Bonucci…”

The first leg against Roma finished 2-2 and Pirlo believes the Bianconeri have improved since then, but stressed they are still not at 100 per cent.

“We’re at 70 to 80 per cent, finally we have almost everyone available and I can also rotate in defence,” he said. “This is a very important step.

“In the first leg, for example, I didn’t have Alex Sandro and I had to use [Juan] Cuadrado on the left. It didn’t go very well, but not knowing them, I had to try.”

But Pirlo said the win against Inter in the Coppa Italia was not a statement from Juventus.

“No statement. We have to look at us, we are charged with adrenaline by every win and the ambition of wanting to win is fundamental. We discovered it after the defeats to Fiorentina and Inter.”

Roma have Edin Dzeko back in the squad, but Pirlo said ‘nothing’ changes.

“Nothing, if he doesn’t play Dzeko, he will play [Borja] Mayoral. He is doing very well,” Pirlo continued.

“Dzeko is a great player, but Roma play well with both of them.”

The former midfielder said he doesn’t know who will play at the back tomorrow.

“The pairs are not predetermined, I have no problem putting them together,” he said. “They are four players of the highest level, who can all play together.”

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