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Juventus coach Ranieri: Del Piero our champion

Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri has declared Alessandro del Piero their champion after yesterday's 2-0 win at Chievo Verona.

"The lads are in good shape and want to fight, to find themselves again," said Ranieri. "Within the group there is a champion who emerges and that is Del Piero. Alex is the captain and the leader of this squad."

Del Piero celebrated his 34th birthday today with another splendid free kick just days after conquering Real Madrid in the Champions League.

"He took the team on his shoulders in a moment of great difficulty and is now being rewarded for that sacrifice with some great goals.

"I am happy because we replicated the win at the Bernabeu, which had risked going to our heads."

Ranieri added: "It is a long season and it will be decided in the spring. Inter are the favourites for the huge squad at their disposal, while Milan have the upper hand because they are not playing in the Champions League."

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