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Mandzukic: ‘When Juventus buy you, it means you’re a good player’

Mario Mandzukic doesn’t have advice for Dusan Vlahovic ahead of the Derby D’Italia, but recounts his own approach: ‘I didn’t think about scoring goals, but how to win the game.’ The Bianconeri face eternal rivals Inter tomorrow evening with a number of key players missing for both sides, although Dusan Vlahovic is expected to return.

Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Mandzukic explained his approach to the big games and why sacrifice for the team means more than goals scored:

After you, there is now Vlahovic: what advice would you give Dusan to experience a great Derby d’Italia?

“Vlahovic is doing Juve very well, he doesn’t need my advice. The only thing I can tell him is how I dealt with these big matches: I didn’t think about scoring goals, but how to win the game. There are many ways to help the team and Juventus’ success is the only important thing at the end of the day. If you run, face opponents, jump, win duels, if you show your determination to rivals, if you make good decisions with the ball, if you create opportunities, if you follow the coach’s game plan, all this contributes to the victory. What is the point of scoring a hat-trick if you lose the game? My advice for each player is the same: give your best for the team and help them win.”

Will Vlahovic be the best number 9 together with Haaland in the future?

“When Juve buys you, it means you’re a good player. Vlahovic has already proven in Fiorentina and Juventus to be an excellent striker. Now it all depends on him. If he has the desire and ambition to be among the best in the world, and I believe he has it, nobody can help him more: he has to work hard to reach his full potential. Haaland and Vlahovic are not the only highly talented young attackers, but I’m sure anyone who wants to be the best – or the best – has to work hard to do it.”

Does it make it more strange for you to see Juventus without Chiellini or to see Pogba again in black and white?

“I’m glad Pogba has returned to Juve and his injury is a serious blow to the team. I played with Paul and he is one who can really help the team when he is fit. But it’s true, it’s strange to see Juve without Chiellini or Buffon because they have been the symbols of the club for many years. Giorgio and Gigi are the striking example of what I said: not only top players, but also players with a winning mentality and a strong character. They are not easy to find and that is why Juve and Italy have had so much success with them. I had an excellent relationship with Chiellini and Buffon, both on the pitch and outside, and I respect them very much “.

Tomorrow in Inter there will be Dzeko, your strike partner from your time of Wolfsburg.

“Edin is top player and I’m happy to see that he’s still doing very well. We played together for a relatively short time, but we built a good relationship and I respect him very much as a player and as a person. If you still want to play and feel good, there is no reason to quit. “.

Brozovic is returning after several weeks due to injury: are you worried about the World Cup?

“Maybe I’d be more worried if it were someone else, but I’m not with Marcelo. Such an injury should not be underestimated, but knowing his  character and physical qualities, I have no fear. The important thing is that Brozovic has healed well, then I am sure that he will run his 11-12 kilometers even without training … “.

Is there a Croatian player with the spirit of Mandzukic who you would recommend to Juventus?

“I’d like to see another Croatian in black and white. As a compatriot – and especially as a member of the Croatian staff – I would be happy to recommend someone to Juve. But I would never do it in the newspapers. Croatia is a land of talent, surely there are players that I could see with the Juve shirt now or in the future “.

In your time at Bayern, you played with Ribery and Robben. French, Dutch and Di Maria: are they the best wingers of the past 15 years?

“Ribery and Robben, I saw them in person and they were extraordinary. First-rate skills, divine talent, strong character, winning mentality. It was great to play with them and Bayern 2012-13, that of the ‘Triplete’, is probably the best team I have been part of. I have never played with Di Maria, I cannot make comparisons.”

Now that you no longer play, are you still “Mr. No good”, as Evra had nicknamed you?

“Ah Evra, what a funny guy… Honestly it was a nice nickname and we had a little fun. I didn’t mind it at all. My companions know that I like a good laugh and those who know me well have seen me laugh often. I have a particular sense of humor and have not changed. I like having fun with my teammates, staff members or friends. However… you will still see ‘Mr. No Good every now and then…”.

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