One all-time great has been compared to another, while the Bianconeri coach has been backed to make a name for himself at the top of the game
Dynamo Kiev boss Mircea Lucescu has likened Cristiano Ronaldo to all-time legend Diego Maradona and feels that new Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo can reach the same heights as Zinedine Zidane or Pep Guardiola.
Lucescu’s outfit will face the Italian heavyweights in their first group stage match of the 2020-21 Champions League, with Juve and Barcelona firm favourites to progress from Group G, which also includes Ferencvaros.
Facing off with the Serie A champions throws up the daunting prospect of having to defend against five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo and Lucescu admits that the former Real Madrid star’s presence is concerning, while also showering the 35-year-old with praise.
“He is like Maradona, he leaves his imprint on teams wherever it is that he plays,” the highly-decorated Romanian coach told Tuttosport. “Facing CR7 is always worrying because he loves scoring and has a unique determination.
“We’ll try to limit him as a team, but the trouble is that Juventus also have other players like [Paulo] Dybala, [Alvaro] Morata, Dejan [Kulusevski] and [Federico] Chiesa.”
Lucescu has taken charge of 14 different teams throughout his storied career, one of which was Brescia in the mid-90s, where he gave a fresh-faced Pirlo his debut as a senior player.
The pair’s next meeting pits them as rivals, but the 75-year-old insists he is nothing but happy for a man he claims always knew would go on to be a head coach.
“I knew Pirlo could become a coach – the same was true of Diego Simeone, who I coached at Pisa,” he said. “I’m not surprised that Pirlo has begun his coaching career at Juventus. It’s not a risky choice for him. The club chose him and will support him. I’m very happy for him.”
Asked if his former player can emulate the managerial greats, Lucescu added: “He can be like [Guardiola and Zidane]. Andrea was a champion footballer and can become a big manager.”
Lucescu’s side will welcome Pirlo’s Juventus to Ukraine on October 20, with Dynamo Kiev set to take in a trip to Turin on December 2.