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Roberto Bettega & Alex Del Piero

Azzurri World Cup Heroes - then and now: Roberto Bettega (1978) & Alex Del Piero - by Giancarlo Rinaldi

They like their scorers to have a touch of class at Juventus. La Vecchia Signora has always had delusions of grandeur and there is nothing they admire more than footballers who find the net with more than their share of elegance and style. That is the biggest bond between Roberto Bettega and Alex Del Piero.

In many ways their respective roles in the Italy side reflect how much the game has changed over the past 25 years. Bettega was much more of a striker, surprisingly strong in the air but blessed with a gift for excellent interplay with his fellow forwards and a powerful shot with his preferred left foot. Born in Turin, he came through the ranks at Juventus and won a string of trophies with the club. At a time when foreign imports were banned he was the best scoring option Italy had to offer.

More than 100 goals over 13 years with the Turin club at a time when goals were particularly hard to come by testify to the quality of his play. His international strike rate was that of almost a goal every other game which represents finishing of the very highest standard. With the arrival of overseas stars at Juve and the advancing years he chose to end his playing days in Canada but the call of the Bianconeri soon drew him back. He took up a backroom role and rose to the post of Vice-president with the club.

Del Piero delivers for both Juve and Italy in quite a different manner. Neither a striker nor a playmaker, he poses problems for both his managers and, thankfully, opposition defences. Weaker in the air than Bettega, he offers more options from dead-ball situations than his illustrious predecessor.

Although some believe he has never fully recovered from serious injury to scale the heights of his early career, there is little doubt that he remains a match-winner. His dribbling skills can be vital in unlocking defences which compares favourably with what Bettega had to offer.

But both gave an extra cutting edge to the Italy sides they were involved with. Without them there is little doubt the Azzurri of their respective eras represented a much less threatening attacking force. And when through on goal they could be relied upon to finish with flair and panache - and that will always make you popular with the fans.

This article is entitled "Azzurri World Cup Heroes - then and now Roberto Bettega (1978) & Alex Del Piero", taken from Football Italia. The images are not original.

Related links:
» Football Italia
» Football Italia magazine section