Italian clubs urged to get UCL results
The president of the Italian Football Federation has wished Milan and Juventus luck in the Champions League but warned that "there is a need to get results" in order to halt a slide in the nation's co-efficient ranking.
Italy fell behind Germany last year, resulting in a reduction to only three places in the competition from this season onwards. Because of Udinese's failure at the play-off stages, the country will have only two clubs taking part in the Champions League.
Speaking to Sky Italia, Giancarlo Abete called on the clubs to improve that standing, saying: "It is a good test for the competitiveness of our football at international level.
"There is a need to get results because otherwise our ranking will worsen, and that determines what happened this year - namely the loss of a team in the Champions League."
Asked about Serie A winners Juventus, who are returning to the competition after a three-year absence, he applauded the changes made by the Turin club, and said: "It's been a great job by management to reposition Juventus where they wanted to be, which is obviously at the top of Italian football, and to be in the elite of European football.
"Now there is this important task, Juve is equipped to do well. Good luck to them as they - along with Milan - represent the whole of Italy in the Champions League."
He paid tribute to both Luca Toni and Alessandro Del Piero when asked what he had enjoyed about the early stages of the season, saying: "The return to goalscoring by Luca Toni and the dedication he showed filled me with emotion.
"He was an important player for the national team and I'm glad he's back and scored after a few minutes in Florence, the city where he had always played a higher level of football.
"Of course, Del Piero in Sydney is an ambassador for our football and I think the reception he had will not leave the memory."
He said he hoped Del Piero would return to Italy after his spell in Australia had come to an end, adding: "Del Piero is one of the greats of football."