Juventus's Del Piero plans an act of genius against Chelsea

10 March 2009 03:53
Alessandro Del Piero was dusting off the magic in the Stadio Olimpico last night, practising free-kicks until he was finally persuaded to leave the pitch by a reluctant member of the coaching staff.

Turin is Del Piero territory, still calling the shots at the age of 34 and buzzing the joins of Gianluigi Buffon's uprights with breathtaking accuracy at the end of their high-tempo training session.

The grand master still has it, setting himself on the edge of the penalty area before bending the ball quite deliberately beyond the reach of the Juventus keeper to the delight of his coach Claudio Ranieri.

Eyeing revenge: Alessandro Del Piero feels Juventus were unlucky to lose in the first leg of the Champions League against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge

This evening it will be the turn of Chelsea

's Petr Cech to keep out one of the most prolific marksmen of the modern era.

Set-pieces are Del Piero's staple diet now, with six goals comingfrom free-kicks this season, turning the discipline into an art formwith that deceptive swivel of the hips and a swing of the second mostfamous right foot on Planet Football.

The foglia morta is the house speciality, named after the fallingleaves the Italians use to describe the dip on the ball when one of thegame's most famous No 10s executes another of his trademark strikes.

 Chelsea's Drogba confident of overcoming Juventus

Chelsea 1 Juventus 0: Drogba delivers shattering blow to Claudio's old men

He scored twice against Real Madrid in the group stages, stunningthe Bernabeu stadium when he clipped a free-kick beyond goalkeeper IkerCasillas and added another with an incisive strike inside the area.

That performance earned him a standing ovation from Real's dewy-eyedsupporters at the final whistle. Del Piero graciously accepted theirpraise on a night when he took his talismanic touch to a wider audience.

Del Piero has been drip-feeding his fans ever since, adding fourmore in Serie A against Roma, Siena, Palermo and Chievo as he continueshis love affair with La Vecchia, Italy's Old Lady.

Bridge battle: Del Piero tussles with John Obi Mikel

That relationship has been rewarded with 254 goals for Juventus,lifting seven league titles and the Champions League in 1996 andrightly being inducted into the club's hall of fame.

He is cherished by the supporters, stretching the all-timeappearance record way beyond the 552 matches the great Juve defenderGaetano Scirea made for the club during the Seventies and Eighties.

Del Piero still adores his profession, speaking with infectiousenthusiasm ahead of this evening's return leg against Chelsea in Turinand talking passionately about the prospects of overturning a 1-0deficit.

'Keeping the enthusiasm is the key for me,' he said last night. 'Istill love my work and that is what keeps me motivated, knowing that Igo to work each day to improve.

'I'm the same now as when I was younger. I still have the passionand the drive for my football and the fact that I have played atJuventus for such a long time shows my dedication.'

This darling of the Bianconeri carries the hopes of the 27,000supporters who will fill the stadium this evening, their interim homeuntil work is completed on a new ground to replace the Stadio DelleAlpi on the outskirts of Turin.

'We played well at Chelsea a fortnight ago,' he said last night.'Chelsea played quite a good game and won, we played a very good gamebut lost. Hopefully, we can turn that around in the second game.

'We have been particularly looking forward to this game and now we will have to play the perfect game.'

Italian football still romanticises about a player with theposter-boy looks, underlining his undoubted class by leaving thestadium last night in a club suit and snazzy black-and-white tie. Coolguy.

He will need to turn on the style this evening, playing alongsideDavid Trezeguet as Juventus search for the goals that will take theminto the quarter-final of this captivating competition.

'Of course, we need goals and that is why I'm playing both of themup front,' announced Ranieri as he prepared to face the Chelsea club heled to the semifinals of the Champions League in 2004.

'It will be a tight game, we are sure of that, but maybe thatlittle bit of something special will be the difference.' Over to you,Alessandro.

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Chelsea 1 Juventus 0: Drogba delivers shattering blow to Claudio's old men


Source: Daily_Mail