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The midfielder has been hailed as the difference-maker ahead of Thursday's semi-final between the Bianconeri and the Portuguese giants


Benfica boss Jorge Jesus has lauded Andrea Pirlo and claims there are not many teams as lucky as Juventus to boast a player of his quality.

The Scudetto holders, eight points clear in Serie A with four games to go, visit Estadio da Luz on Thursday for the first leg of their Europa League semi-final with the newly-crowned Primeira Liga champions

Pirlo has, once again, been a key part in Antonio Conte's men's dominance in Italy this season and helped fire the Bianconeri past Olympique Lyonnais in the last eight, and Jesus has earmarked the veteran as the key difference between the two sides.

"There are not many teams in the world with a player as technically gifted in his position," the coach told reporters on Wednesday.

"He is very important in the chance creation phase of the game and from offensive set pieces.

"However, the teams are equal as a collective. It is true that, individually, Juventus have plenty of quality, but so do Benfica. We are very similar teams in terms of our ideas on how the game should be played."

Jesus insists Benfica's title triumph does not make them favourites to taste victory in the home leg and believes Thursday's meeting in Lisbon will see the two best teams left in the tournament come face to face.

"I do not think that Benfica have an advantage because we already have guaranteed our main goal, which was to be national champions," he continued.

"It will be a very beautiful duel between the two strongest teams left in the Europa League."

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