It is not very often we get to hear from Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici, so when he does have an interview published it’s always worth following up even a couple of days later.
Paratici traveled with the side to Spain for the opening Champions League group phase match at Atletico Madrid that ended in a late 2-2 draw, but had spoken to Sky Sport Italia (via Football Italia) before that clash.
He started off talking about the quarter-final game here last season when Juve lost 2-0.
“I wouldn’t say we lacked courage here last season, as the Champions League away fixtures are always very difficult. The opening half-hour is an inferno, even against supposedly weaker teams.
“Atletico had a great performance at the Wanda Metropolitano last term, we had an even better one in Turin, so we progressed in the competition.”
When asked if the squad this season had more strength in depth than previous years, Paratici played it cool.
“In the last six-seven years, we’ve always had top quality squads with players who have won a great deal with Juve, at their clubs before and at international level.
“Nothing changes, the Coach knows what he has to do and we’ve always had tacticians who are perfectly capable of dealing with this many star names.”
Maurizio Sarri is often criticized for his (lack of) squad rotation, so how will he deal with this many big-name, skilled players all jostling for limited playing time?
“We are not worried. We ought to be worried if our team is too small. We’re into the fourth game of the season, we’ve already lost Giorgio Chiellini, Mattia De Sciglio and Douglas Costa to injury.
“We’re preparing for a long campaign, which means we need a large squad that is complete, competitive and with strength in depth.”
Two players who played big roles in last season’s Champions League campaign are not in the squad for this year’s competition, Mario Mandzukic and Emre Can, but the pair also refused to get transfers out of the club.
“People see it as a negative, but we see it as a positive. When we took over many years ago, very few players wanted to come to Juve and quite a lot wanted to leave. Now we are in the opposite situation.
“It’s something to be considered as positive and we thank those players who over the years worked so hard to help the club reach that level.
“It would be mad to say we weren’t satisfied with the last few years. We made changes because we had to bring in above all players to fill the slots that were lacking.
“We brought in Matthijs de Ligt, who last season was one of the best defenders in the Champions League. We brought in Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot in midfield to replace those who left, we brought back Gigi Buffon, who is a legend, and we signed Merih Demiral, who is a very promising young defender.”