No Real Madrid as Pirlo picks four teams to rival Juventus for Champions League

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The Italian has named a handful of top sides for the Old Lady to be wary of as they look to lift the trophy

Ex-Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo has named his former side's four biggest rivals for the Champions League.

Juventus have not lifted Europe's top prize since 1996 and have lost five finals since then, most recently the 2015 and 2017 editions to Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

However, Pirlo does not rank the latter among the Italian giants' chief competitors, despite them winning the competition for the last three years.

Los Blancos' disastrous start to the season may be behind that reasoning - they sit just ninth in La Liga and sacked head coach Julen Lopetegui on Monday .

“[There are] four or five teams [in the running for the Champions League], including Juventus," he told Sky Italia

"Then there are Liverpool, Barcelona, Manchester City and Bayern Munich. The teams are more or less those.

"Meanwhile in Serie A, Juventus have shown and are proving to be a step or two steps above the others.”

Andrea Pirlo Juventus Champions League

Pirlo's confidence in his old side may stem from their remarkable capture of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid in the summer.

Portugal star Ronaldo is chasing his fourth successive Champions League title and has an unrivalled record in the latter stages of the competition.

And Pirlo says he has received glowing reports about the forward's professionalism from friends and former team-mates and feels that his qualities off the field are evident on it.
 
He continued: “Cristiano Ronaldo? My friends - his coaches, like Ancelotti - tell me he is a serious professional and a humble person.

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"I'm not surprised at all, the results on the pitch are showing that.”

A set-piece specialist himself, Pirlo also shared his thoughts on Juventus' wealth of options when it comes to taking free-kicks, particularly since the arrival of Ronaldo - who he thinks will pull rank.

Pirlo added: “Ronaldo, Pjanic or Dybala? They have a great choice now because all three are very good shooters, but now Pjanic and Dybala might find it a bit more difficult because maybe the priority goes to Ronaldo."

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