x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Diego shines in the Eternal City

There were many more higher-profile transfers around Europe this summer but, in signing Brazilian Diego from Werder Bremen, Juventus coach Ciro Ferrara may have done some of the shrewdest business.

Diego, centre, chips home Juventus' first goal past Roma goalkeeper Julio Bertagnoli at Olimpico stadium in Rome on Sunday.
Diego, centre, chips home Juventus' first goal past Roma goalkeeper Julio Bertagnoli at Olimpico stadium in Rome on Sunday.

There were many more higher-profile transfers around Europe this summer but, in signing Brazilian Diego from Werder Bremen, Juventus coach Ciro Ferrara may have done some of the shrewdest business. The diminutive playmaker, so often Werder's match-winner in past seasons, scored two goals in Sunday night's impressive 3-1 victory at Roma, as Juve maintained their 100 per cent start to the season. Diego was delighted to have made an immediate impact with his new club.

"I knew it was going to be difficult to do well against Roma but we knew that if we played quality football we could win and that was the case," said the Brazil international. "I have adapted well to Italian football and that is thanks to Juve, to my coach Ciro Ferrara and to my teammates." Felipe Melo added Juve's third goal after Daniele De Rossi had cancelled out Diego's opener, but Roma were second best and received a blast from coach Luciano Spalletti for their lack of fighting spirit.

The Giallorossi slumped to their second consecutive loss after going down 3-2 at Genoa on the opening weekend. "Several of my players have not reached their best condition and that was evident today as was the lack of battling spirit of my team," said Spalletti. While Diego's performance stood out, Juve looked very strong all around the pitch. With AC Milan in transition, Ferrara's men look best placed to challenge Jose Mourinho's Inter for the Serie A title this season.

Ferrara hailed the teamwork shown by his troops, saying: "It's great to have six points in the standings. But that is not as significant as the awareness that we have claimed an important win today. "We knew that Diego has great quality, but he also proved himself useful to the team at the defensive end. Despite giving away a goal, I thought we played a perfect first-half. The key to our win is that Juve played as they should, like a team."

In France, there was a meeting of two managers who won the 1998 World Cup together as players on Sunday as Laurent Blanc's champions, Girondins Bordeaux, drew 0-0 at Didier Deschamps' Olympique Marseille. Bordeaux went top of Ligue1 on goal difference, but their run of 14 successive wins, including the 11 victories that led them to their first title in 10 years last season, came to an end.

After four games, the champions are level with Paris St Germain and Lyon. Marseille paid tribute to Robert Louis-Dreyfus, their main shareholder who died on July 4, before kick-off at the Stade Velodrome, their first home match at their stadium after being forced to play their match against Lille two weeks ago at Montpellier's ground because of an investigation into an accident at a Madonna concert which left a worker dead.

The lengthy ceremony meant the players from both teams were slow to find their rhythm. Marseille had the best chances, but nearly paid the price when Bordeaux's Brazilian midfielder, Jussie, had a header from a corner disallowed in the 90th minute. "We were a bit lucky," admitted Blanc, while Deschamps added: "It was a game of Champions League level. We tried to push forward but Bordeaux have a great mastery of the game".

* With agencies