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Europe tops Capello's agenda

Published: Tuesday 13 September 2005, 8.00CET
Juventus FC's experienced coach Fabio Capello tells that winning the UEFA Champions League is his No1 priority for this season.
by Massimo Gonnella
Published: Tuesday 13 September 2005, 8.00CET

Europe tops Capello's agenda

Juventus FC's experienced coach Fabio Capello tells that winning the UEFA Champions League is his No1 priority for this season.

A UEFA Champions League just would not seem complete without Fabio Capello at the helm of one of the contenders. The 59-year-old Italian led AC Milan to the first three finals, including their stylish triumph against FC Barcelona in 1993/94, coached AS Roma in several campaigns and now, for the second season running, is in charge of Juventus FC.

Continental aim
Their Champions League campaign may have been ended by Liverpool FC at the quarter-final stage last season, but Juve went on to claim the Scudetto, keeping up Capello's record of winning that honour with all the Serie A clubs he has led. Now the task is to match his continental achievement with Milan but, as he told, lifting the European Champion Clubs' Cup is his No1 objective. What are your aims for this season?

Fabio Capello: I hope to do well in all the competitions we enter, although I would say that we are really aiming for success in the Champions League, then Serie A and third in our priorities, the Italian Cup. There is also the hope that we can avoid serious injuries, so that we can have a squad that stays healthy and competitive throughout the season. How do you assess your chances?

Capello: We have been looking to add something to our wide play, to how we use the flanks. It is an area of the pitch where maybe an extra player would have done us good, but we have a philosophy of not changing for changing’s sake. We still have great players who are playing well. However, we will be without Gianluigi Buffon, who is going to be out for three months, and that’s a blow to us. Who are your main rivals?

Capello: The three Italian teams look strong, as do Real Madrid [CF] and [FC] Barcelona, Chelsea [FC], Manchester United [FC] and [FC] Bayern München. [Madrid's] signing of Robinho, the new star of Brazilian football, should give them a player around whom they can build a strong challenge for honours. But you have about seven teams with the potential to reach the Champions League final. You have competed in European football for many years as a player and coach. What memories stand out?

Capello: My happiest memories, I like to think, are of successes yet to come, hopefully this year. But looking back, the highlight was probably the game against Barcelona in Athens when we won 4-0. It was an extraordinary match, especially as we weren't favourites that night. As a player I didn't win the European Cup. I played in the final [with Juventus in 1972/73] but we met an unbeatable [AFC] Ajax side. As a coach, it was always the pinnacle to aim for. Turning to Serie A, is it a three-horse race between yourselves, Milan and FC Internazionale Milano?

Capello: Juventus, Inter and Milan will be in the running for the championship and it could be between one of those three. Other teams will be involved though, including [AS] Roma, who have a very good side, [US Città di] Palermo, [UC] Sampdoria, [ACF] Fiorentina and Udinese [Calcio] who are the outsiders. It should be a good season. Serie A is very important to Juve, Inter and Milan, and it is going to be a long, hard campaign for all three clubs, but the key thing is where we are come April and May. I think Palermo and Sampdoria will do well again this season, and Roma will get back on track too after a terrible time last year when they were fighting relegation until the last day. Who could emerge as the stars of the season?

Capello: In Italy, [Fiorentina striker] Giampaolo Pazzini will be a player to watch along with his team-mate Valeri Bojinov, who has to build on a good campaign last season. What does the future hold for Fabio Capello?

Capello: I still have two years left at Juventus in which I hope to reach the targets we have set ourselves, and that is as far as I'm looking at the moment. But after that, I don't know. I wouldn't mind going to England but I don't know how long I will carry on coaching for.

Last updated: 13/09/05 11.33CET

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