Following last night’s glittering Gran Galà del Calcio awards ceremony in Milan, Juventus received further recognition today after being crowned Piedmont’s team of the year by the regional branch of the USSI (Italian Sport Press Union).
Receiving the prize on behalf of the club this morning was Andrea Barzagli, who picked up the award for the Bianconeri’s third successive Scudetto triumph in 2013/14.
Reflecting on the achievement, the defender began: “It was a great feat. We enjoyed a great championship season. We approached it on the back of two league triumphs and managed to win again. Credit goes to the players, coach, staff and club for creating a group capable of achieving this.”
Having established their supremacy on the domestic front, Juventus will now look to go one better by enjoying a strong run in this season’s Champions League after making it through the knockout stages with a goalless draw against Atletico Madrid a week ago today.
Standing in their way between the last 16 and a place in Europe’s top eight are German outfit Borussia Dortmund, a side Barzagli, who enjoyed three seasons in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg between 2008 and 2011, believes will prove a tough nut to crack.
“The draw pits us with a team who have been leading lights in the Champions League in recent years, also making a final in the process. They’ll certainly be very tough opponents, they have important players and a good coach. It will tell us what level we’re at on the European stage.”
Reverting his thoughts back to domestic matters, the 33-year-old says the Bianconeri’s first position in the rankings means they remain firmly on the right track, regardless of the three consecutive draws registered from recent outings.
“The last three draws? We’ve played against important sides who are in form. The most important thing however is to be out on top. There’s still a long way to go and we’ll need to maintain our usual focus.”
A lengthy spell on the sidelines has restricted Barzagli to a spectactor’s role in recent months, but he remains confident of returning to competitive action in the not too distant future.
He concluded: “I hope to get back playing soon. It’s tough watching the games on television.”