"Stephan Lichtsteiner is hard to pin down. An industrious, tough-tackling presence at the back, in a flash the Swiss full-back can be rampaging forward and spreading panic in opposition defences thanks to his skill and technique."
This is how FIFA.com describes the Bianconeri player in an interview with the Swiss defender that was conducted yesterday, just five days ahead of the World Cup. With 8 assists in the Serie A – the highest in the league last season – and 2 goals, the Juve full-back played a leading role in the record-breaking campaign. So of course he wanted to talk about it with FIFA’s online journalists.
"We had an outstanding season in the league, scoring 102 points and winning all 19 matches at home and 33 out of 38 games overall; the stats speak for themselves. But we can't be satisfied with our results on the European stage," Juventus's undisputed first-choice right-back – formerly of Lille and Lazio – tells FIFA.com. "We failed to get out of the Champions League group stage despite having a reasonably friendly draw. We had a chance to make amends in the Europa League and didn't deliver then either. We had the potential to do better."
The huge gulf between Juve's domestic and European form is a real head-scratcher. Ruthless against the likes of Napoli, Roma and AC Milan, the Old Lady stumbled against FC Copenhagen and Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League and then Benfica in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals, missing out on a final on home turf in Turin. "We're largely responsible for that failure. We perform with more focus and confidence in the league, while in Europe, small details play a bigger role and we haven't been able to work them in our favour. We made too many individual errors this year, but I'm convinced we won't repeat them next season."
"Considering the size of our population, I think Switzerland are doing excellent work in all regards and have a very impressive talent pool to draw from. In fact, I think we're not far off the top nations on that front", Lichtsteiner stresses. "We haven't exploited our full potential yet. We have to follow the lead set by the best and that's exactly what we're trying to do, but we need to be more consistent in our performances against the so-called 'weaker' sides."
"This year, we're going to do everything in our power to reach the Round of 16, ideally by topping our group. It won't be easy, but that's what we have to aim for. After the group stage, anything is possible."