Former Juventus defender Fabio Cannavaro says the Bianconeri can still win the Scudetto this season, insisting Massimiliano Allegri's men have a chance in a "four-man race" for the title.

Cannavaro noted the slip-ups of Juventus' rivals as a reason for his belief in his former club's chances, claiming "it seems that nobody wants to win" Serie A.

The legendary centre-back also demanded far-reaching changes across Italian football in response to the Azzurri's recent failure to reach this year's Qatar World Cup, but would not be drawn on talk he could replace Roberto Mancini as the national team's coach.

Juventus are six points behind leaders Milan with six games remaining, and narrowed the gap on their rivals over the weekend, beating Cagliari 2-1 before Milan drew 0-0 with Torino and Napoli lost 3-2 to Fiorentina.

Juventus have now won three consecutive away league games for the first time this season, and the 48-year-old, who left the club for Real Madrid after captaining Italy to World Cup glory in 2006, believes Allegri's men remain in the hunt.

"It seems that nobody wants to win it," the 2006 Ballon D'or winner said at an event in Tuscany. "The feeling is that when there is the chance to make a difference, something always happens.

"The championship is always open, anything can happen. Seeing the results of those ahead [of Juventus], it's a four-man race.

"We know Juventus, they never give up, it is certainly a championship that can give us surprises.

"It's a strange championship, when you have the chance to knock the others off [the top], nobody does. It's a championship that anyone can win, all four of them. If the results are [to continue like] these, it will be an interesting ending ".

If Juventus were to win the title, it would represent their 10th Scudetto in 11 years, and their sixth under the tutelage of Allegri.

Cannavaro was also asked about his country's second consecutive failure to qualify for the World Cup after Italy suffered a shock play-off defeat to North Macedonia last month.

"It hurts," he said of the failure to reach Qatar. "After 2006, we are no longer able to [have our] say at the World Cup, which has always seen us as protagonists.

"Beyond this, this resignation to the fact that it has to be like this saddens me. It is a shame, there are generations [of Italians] that have not seen a final phase [of a World Cup].

"We need to change quickly. I don't have the cure, I don't have the recipe, it's not up to me.

"It [the Italian Football Federation] is an organisation that doesn't work. Before, the [Italian] teams went to Europe and commanded, we went to Champions League finals, now we haven't reached it for years.

"It [talk of Cannavaro succeeding Mancini] is normal. You can't focus on one man, but on a system that has failed for too many years. I haven't heard from anyone."

Italy great Fabio Cannavaro insists the Azzurri cannot afford to fail to qualify for two consecutive World Cups.

The reigning European champions could not top their World Cup qualifying group, leaving them having to beat North Macedonia in the playoffs semi-final on Thursday to keep their hopes alive.

Italy would then have to bypass either Turkey or Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in the final to secure their spot at Qatar 2022, which means one of the previous two European Championship winners will not be present at the World Cup.

Robert Mancini's reinvigorated Azzurri responded to failure to qualify for FIFA's showpiece event in 2018 by lifting the delayed Euro 2020, and Cannavaro explained that it is vitally that they find a way through this year.

"Between us and qualifying for Qatar there could be Portugal, but also Turkey would not be a walk in the park," Cannavaro, who won the World Cup in 2006, told Italian newspaper Il Mattino.

"And even before that in Palermo, we must beat [North] Macedonia. We threw away a chance in Rome against Switzerland [in the group stages], there is no way we can not qualify for the World Cup for eight years.

"It would be a disaster for everyone. Mancini will find the resources to be able to qualify."

While Italy push for World Cup qualification, Russia will not be featuring in Qatar after FIFA excluded them due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, a decision Cannavaro supports.

When asked if FIFA had made the right call, he added: "Yes. Football is not a world apart. It had to give a signal and it did."

Fabio Cannavaro has stepped down as head coach of Guangzhou as the Chinese Super League side continue to face an uncertain future.

The legendary former Italy centre-back was in his second spell in charge of the club having returned in November 2017, two years after being replaced by Luiz Felipe Scolari.

He guided Guangzhou to the title in 2019 but his position was called into question following last year's runners-up finish.

And with troubled majority shareholders Evergrande Group reportedly on the brink of collapsing, Guangzhou have decided to cut short Cannavaro's latest spell in charge.

"After friendly negotiation, Guangzhou Football Club decided to terminate the contract with Mr. Fabio Cannavaro," a club statement read on Tuesday.

"Since November 2017, Mr. Cannavaro has served as the head coach of the Guangzhou team, leading the team to win the 2018 Chinese Football Association Super Cup champion, the 2019 Chinese Football Association Super League champion and many other honours.

"Here, I would like to sincerely thank Mr. Fabio Cannavaro for his great efforts and positive contributions to the Guangzhou team, and wish him all the best in the future."

Gianluigi Donnarumma is Euro 2020 winners Italy's star player and will be the best goalkeeper in the world for the next 10 to 15 years, according to Fabio Cannavaro.

The 22-year-old was named UEFA's Player of the Tournament for his penalty shoot-out heroics in Italy's victory over England in last Sunday's final at Wembley.

Donnarumma kept out efforts from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, after Marcus Rashford had earlier hit the post, as Italy ended their 53-year wait to win a second Euros crown.

He has won all five of the shoot-outs he has been involved in for club and country, having also made a crucial save in the semi-final shoot-out victory against Spain.

Italy legend Cannavaro believes Donnarumma answered any of his remaining critics with his displays at Euro 2020 and expects his compatriot to shine for at least the next decade. 

"Donnarumma is the real champion of this Azzurri side," Cannavaro told Tuttosport. "I am surprised that, before the Euros, some people thought he was an average goalkeeper. 

"There's nothing average about Gigio. Just think of the tranquillity he has at 22. He will be the best goalkeeper for the next 10 to 15 years."

Donnarumma played more minutes at Euro 2020 than any other player (719), missing only the closing stages of Italy's win against Wales in the group stage.

After spending time celebrating the Azzurri's triumph, the young keeper this week completed a free transfer from Milan to Paris Saint-Germain, where he will compete with Keylor Navas.

"At least we will enjoy him with the national team," Cannavaro added.

 

In his final season at San Siro, where he has spent his entire senior career to date, Donnarumma recorded a joint-high 14 Serie A clean sheets alongside Inter's Samir Handanovic.

While Italy ended a long wait for continental silverware last week, Argentina did likewise by claiming their first Copa America crown since 1993.

Lionel Messi was the star performer for Argentina, scoring four goals and assisting five more to win his first trophy at international level.

Despite Donnarumma's impressive displays for Italy, Cannavaro is backing Messi to win a record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or crown later this year.

"He is the absolute number one and he was the protagonist of a great Copa America," Cannavaro said.

Gianluigi Buffon has called time on his second spell at Juventus, concluding a defining playing association with the Serie A giants.

There may only be three clubs on the goalkeeping great's resume but sustained excellence over more than two decades has filled his trophy cabinet with individual and team honours. 

The former Parma prodigy has rubbed shoulders with the very best in world football throughout that time, forming part of Serie A, Ligue 1 and World Cup-winning sides.

In honour of Buffon's stellar career, we have compiled a star-studded group of former team-mates for a dream XI.

 

GOALKEEPER: GIANLUIGI BUFFON

Who else has the pedigree to don the gloves in such a side?

A five-time member of the UEFA Team of the Year, he boasts more Serie A clean sheets than any other player and, as captain of his country from 2010 until his retirement in 2018, would have no trouble bringing this team together.

RIGHT-BACK: LILIAN THURAM

Having been joined by Buffon at Parma after his switch from Monaco in 1996, Thuram followed his team-mate in making the move to Turin ahead of the 2001-02 campaign.

The 142-time France international, part of the side that tasted glory at the 1998 World Cup on home soil and won Euro 2000, spent five seasons at Juve before rounding out his career with a spell at Barcelona.

CENTRE-BACK: FABIO CANNAVARO

Buffon's inheritance of the Italy armband from Cannavaro in 2010 completed the striking symmetry of their careers.

They both made their Parma debuts in 1995, did the same for Italy in 1997 and were reunited at club level when Cannavaro, one of few defenders to win the Ballon d'Or, joined Juve in 2004. They also lifted the World Cup together in 2006.

CENTRE-BACK: ALESSANDRO NESTA

A long-time rival at club level, Nesta was part of the famous Milan defence that beat Juve in the 2002-03 Champions League final – he scored his penalty against Buffon in a 3-2 shoot-out victory – and triumphed again four seasons later.

He was named in the Team of the Tournament at Euro 2000, which Buffon missed through injury, but the 2006 World Cup success will undoubtedly be the highlight of his career.

LEFT-BACK: PAOLO MALDINI

With admirable longevity, loyalty and leadership, classy defender Maldini set the path that Buffon has so impressively followed.

The long-time Rossoneri skipper, a seven-time Scudetto winner who also lifted the European Cup on five occasions, Maldini was the only player to have managed more Serie A appearances than the veteran keeper until his Juve return.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: ANDREA PIRLO

Has there been a more iconic duo of the modern era?

Pirlo was already at the top by the time he swapped Milan for Juve, but he saved plenty of his play-making brilliance for Buffon and friends as the Bianconeri re-asserted themselves as Italy's top club with a run of successive Scudetti that stretched to nine before being ended by Inter this season as their reunion as player and head coach did not yield similar results.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: PAVEL NEDVED

Nedved's blend of athleticism, tenacity and well-rounded technical ability made him close to the complete midfielder.

He helped Czech Republic to the final of Euro 1996 and his value to Juve was summed up by a Ballon d'Or victory in 2003.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD: ROBERTO BAGGIO

Less than two years after a 17-year-old Buffon held Baggio and Milan scoreless on his senior debut for Parma, the pair were sharing the same shirt for Italy.

Two of the Azzurri's greatest were in the same squad at the 1998 World Cup, although Buffon would ultimately go one better than the 1993 Ballon d'Or winner, who suffered final heartache against Brazil at USA 94.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD: ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO

He stands as an equal in the pantheon of Juve luminaries.

Buffon and the majestic Del Piero combined to help the Bianconeri finish top of Serie A on five occasions, while they lined up for Italy together for over a decade and experienced World Cup glory together

FORWARD: CRISTIANO RONALDO

Ronaldo joined Juve as Buffon embarked upon his hiatus with Paris Saint-Germain. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was supposed to add Champions League glory to domestic dominance and now Juventus have neither.

Nevertheless, Ronaldo's individual form has remained imperious. In 127 appearances for the Bianconceri, he has 97 goals at a rate of a goal every 113 minutes.

FORWARD: KYLIAN MBAPPE

They were only together for a year but the France phenomenon is a performer to compare with many of the greats to have shared a dressing room with Buffon.

Fresh from 2018 World Cup success with France, Mbappe scored 39 goals in 43 appearances for PSG in 2018-19, averaging 90.25 minutes per goal and boasting a shot conversion rate of 22 per cent.

Juventus knew exactly what they were getting when hiring Andrea Pirlo and would be wrong twice if they decided to make a change now, according to Fabio Cannavaro.

Despite winning Serie A for a ninth successive season, Juve reacted to the team's shock Champions League exit to Lyon last year by sacking head coach Maurizio Sarri.

Pirlo was promoted from within to the top job, the former Italy international - who had only just been appointed as the club's new under-23 boss - signing a two-year deal to take charge of the first team.

His debut campaign has been tough, both at home and abroad. Juve's dominance in the league looks set to come to an end, while their hopes of European glory were dashed again at the last-16 stage, this time unexpectedly losing over two legs to Porto.

Pirlo's position has come into question as a consequence, yet former team-mate Cannavaro insists the club must show faith in the decision they made to appoint him in the first place.

"When Juve chose Andrea they knew very well that he had no experience," Cannavaro said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport

"It is logical that he should have his time to mature, even in the relationship with the team. There are still 30 points at stake, so it is right to leave it.

"And he did good things, throwing young people and managing a complicated dressing room, one full of people who have won a lot. Of course, some things don't work, he was wrong: he is a human.

"It's a heritage that must be protected. After all, if Juve don't confirm his position, what did they choose him to do last summer?

"They would be wrong twice if they take that decision now. And the blame can't only be his if the players make mistakes on and off the pitch."

Pirlo's Juve have a 57.14 per cent win percentage in Serie A, having scored 56 goals and conceded 25. The team averages exactly two points a game, considerably lower than the 2019-20 season.

They face a fight just to qualify for the Champions League again: Saturday's 2-2 draw against Torino saw them slip to fourth in the table, with a crucial home game against Napoli - who sit fifth, albeit level with Juventus on 56 points – to come on Wednesday.

As for Sarri, his solitary campaign in charge averaged out at 2.18 points per game, the former Napoli and Chelsea boss winning 68.42 per cent of his league fixtures as he secured the title again.

However, both slip below the lofty standards set by Massimiliano Allegri in his final year in the job. In 2018-19, his squad won 73.68 per cent of their Serie A outings, conceding just 30 goals as they picked up points at a rate of 2.37 per game.

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