Del Piero fired up
ALESSANDRO Del Piero took one look at Tallaght Stadium last night and summed up the challenge facing his Juventus team at the venue this evening. "This is pure football," declared the veteran Italian World Cup winner.
The 35-year-old and his team-mates trained in Dublin 24 shortly after their arrival from Italy for the first leg of their Europa League tie with Shamrock Rovers. And he insisted that he is looking forward to an occasion which will contrast rapidly from the norm in his storied career.
"I do like these type of matches," said Del Piero ahead of the 5,800 sell-out clash. "Personally, I am very motivated."
Juventus coach Luigi Delneri may yet start his skipper on the bench tonight, with Brazilian playmaker Diego and possible Real Madrid target Amauri tipped to get the nod.
He has left experienced quartet Fabio Grosso, Felipe Melo, Mauro Camoranesi and Nicola Legrottaglie at home for a combination of tactical and fitness reasons, but will still field a strong starting XI packed with internationals.
Nevertheless, Shamrock Rovers manager Michael O'Neill believes that his team are capable of securing a result which will carry interest over to the second-leg meeting in Modena next Thursday. He believes a scoreless draw would be ideal, and says the outcome is possible with the right application.
"If you look at European football now, the idea that you have to score at home no longer exists.
"The main priority is not to lose a goal at home. Obviously we will be doing our utmost to make sure that we don't lose a goal at home. Does 0-0 keep the tie alive? Of course it does, very much so," he said.
"I think the belief is there that we can do it. The players believe that the experiences we had over the two legs with Bnei Yehuda (the Israeli side they beat in the previous round) will stand them in good stead.
"They have embraced that, but know we have to be both pragmatic and conservative."