December 8, 2021

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‘I love this club’ – Pirlo eyes Juventus stay after Coppa Italia triumph

2 min read

Andrea Pirlo wants to remain as Juventus head coach next season, but accepts the decision could be taken out of his hands.

Pirlo has endured a challenging first season in charge of the Bianconeri, but he steered them to a record-extending 14th Coppa Italia title with a 2-1 win over Atalanta on Wednesday.

Federico Chiesa scored the decisive goal 17 minutes from full-time after Ruslan Malinovskiy had earlier cancelled out Dejan Kulusevski’s fine strike.

The triumph meant Pirlo became the fourth Juve boss to win the Coppa Italia as both a player and a coach, after Luis Monti, Carlo Parola and Dino Zoff.

Juve need to beat Bologna on the final day of the season on Sunday and hope one of Napoli or Milan slip up in their respective games against Hellas Verona and Atalanta to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League.

While Pirlo accepts it has been a difficult season, he insists he has no intention of stepping down from his role at the end of the campaign.

“We wouldn’t be here talking about fifth place and a premature Champions League exit if it had been a totally positive season,” he told RAI Sport. “There were ups and downs, these two trophies [Juve also won the Supercoppa Italiana] cannot cancel that out.

“For my first season, I have learned a great deal and then found these satisfactions that are very gratifying.

“Of course I would confirm myself in this role. I’ve loved football since I was a child and will continue to love it. The club will decide, but I love coaching. I love this club, and we’ll see what is decided. I would like to continue.”

Pirlo also revealed Chiesa was almost denied his moment of glory, with Paulo Dybala poised to replace him.

“We were about to take him off when he scored; that’s football for you,” he said. “Not everyone has scored a decisive goal in a cup final, so it’s great for him.”

While Juve largely struggled in the first half at the Mapei Stadium, they were a team reborn in the second period.

They limited Atalanta – who had Rafael Toloi sent off late on after he had already been substituted – to just a single shot on target after the break, with Pirlo attributing their improved display to a few half-time tweaks.

“It was a wonderful game with two great teams who fought from start to finish,” he added.

“[Juan] Cuadrado was a little too deep in the first half, but I told him to be more ferocious on [Robin] Gosens and [Weston] McKennie to attack their centre-back. We did it in the second half and it all went much better.”

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