Crucial Summer Ahead for Juventus

After wrapping up their eighth consecutive Scudetto following their 2-1 win over Fiorentina, Juventus will now focus their efforts on addressing the issues plaguing their roster. While the bianconeri added two trophies to their haul this season, they failed in Europe losing to a superior Ajax side over the two ties, and were sent packing in the Coppa Italia against Atalanta. Both defeats spoke volumes of this Juventus side and demonstrated just how fragile the Italian champions are when pressed. Here are three fundamental questions they must answer come summertime if they are to achieve European glory.

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1) Massimiliano Allegri: In or out? 

Since their collapse in Cardiff, Juventus have not been the same, and look a side devoid of an identity. This season much of the same problems persisted. The bianconeri strolled to the Scudetto, barely challenging themselves in the process as their competitors consistently shot themselves in the foot. Frankly, most Serie A tacticians would have won the title with this roster.

What’s more frustrating for Juve is that Allegri has completely failed at instilling a consistent style of play, and largely depends on individual brilliance to see him through. And when all else fails, the Italian champions typically bombard the box with crosses, and hope for Mandzukic or Ronaldo to come through. When opposing sides pressed the bianconeri high, and played without fear, by contrast, Juventus struggled to put three passes together.

When the board meets with Allegri to discuss the past season, they should replay the Ajax and Atalanta games. In both instances, Juventus cowered deep in fear, while the bolder team was rewarded for their self-confidence. If Juve are to win the Champions League, they need a fearless leader, and one thing’s for certain: Allegri is not that. It’s the end of the Allegri era, as we know it.

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2) Project Fix The Defence. 

Since Antonio Conte brought back Juve from consecutive seventh place finishes, the bianconeri’s defence was always their foundation and backbone for success. With Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini, Juventus possessed arguably the strongest backline in the world, and kept opponents at bay with ease.

However, with Barzagli nearing retirement and Bonucci looking like a shadow of his former self since his controversial return, Juventus’ defence has been a weak point for the side and has held the team back. Factor in Alex Sandro’s continued struggles, and it’s clear to see: Without Chiellini, Juventus are a mess at the back.

Considering Daniele Rugani’s stagnation, and Bonucci’s regular lapses in concentration, it’s time Juventus revamp their defence. First of all, they shouldn’t hesitate to sell Rugani and Alex Sandro as soon as a good offer arrives. The former has been a disaster when called upon, and shirks at the first sight of a physical battle. Alex Sandro, by contrast, has lost most of his pace, and offers close to nothing in the final third.

With Cristian Romero already on his way from Genoa, and Leonardo Spinazzola improving with every week, the state of Juventus’ defence remains decent. However, they will need at least two reinforcements: a centre-back and a left back.

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3) Project Fix the Midfield.

Much like the defence, Juventus’ midfield is in complete disarray, and lacks a true leader. Since dismantling their midfield in 2015 by selling Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba, the bianconeri are yet to bolster the midfield sufficiently. At the moment, only Miralem Pjanic and potentially Emre Can are worthy starters, while the others are solid bench options at best.

Even Pjanic and Can, who on their day are world beaters, struggle to impose themselves, and aren’t meant to lead the midfield as seen through the Ajax clashes. Despite Aaron Ramsey’s arrival, Juventus are still lacking one profile in their midfield. A ball-winner capable of maintaining possession. What they would do for a prime Claudio Marchisio again? But Juventus could settle for Lyon’s Tanguy N’Dombele.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 31

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Juventus: Mario Mandzukic (flu), Paulo Dybala (calf) and Leonardo Spinazzola (knee) have recovered from their problems, while Cristiano is sitll out. Sami Khedira, Douglas Costa and Juan Cuadrado have ramped up their activity and are close to returning, but they will not be called up in this round. Martin Caceres will miss three weeks with a thigh strain.

Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne is said to have almost recuperated from his thigh contracture and could be in the squad list in this round. David Ospina (head), Faouzi Ghoulam and Vlad Chiriches (thigh) should be in the squad in list, while Raul Albiol is not far away.  Continue reading

Spinazzola speaks, Romero update and UEFA international ranking

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Leonardo Spinazzola spoke to Rai Sport and Tuttomercatoweb after his solid showing with Italy against Lichtenstein: “I am back and I can still improve a lot physically, I need this type of games to find the peak form. Cristiano Ronaldo told us that he is serene, he believes he will be back in ten days. We hope he will return in time for the next Champions League match.”

On the skirmish with Atalanta in January of 2018: “It was a particular moment, I do not want to revisit it. Juventus were looking for fullbacks and I believed I could help, I was feeling strong mentally too. I thought I could do the jump right away and move up my arrival. Anyway, I was happy to stay with Atalanta and we fared well in Europe too.” Continue reading

Injury updates and Romero talks potential Juventus move

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Cristiano Ronaldo was limited in training yesterday due to a knock on the ankle he got in the Bologna game. The initial tests revealed no structural damage and he was able to practice fully today, so, barring a precautionary measure, he will be good to go against Napoli. Douglas Costa is currently not expected to come back this week as he is dealing with a bruised calf on top of a quad hematoma he has not been able to absorb. According to Tuttosport, Juventus could get some positive news from Sami Khedira, who has stayed in Germany after the heart procedure, but will soon come back in Turin for a new round of examinations and is hoping to be cleared sooner than the announced one-month timetable. Continue reading

Juventus announce Ramsey and Paratici discusses transfer market topics

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Eleven days after the end of the January transfer market window, Juventus announced the signing of Aaron Ramsey for next summer, which was secured weeks, if not months, ago. The Bosman move will cost the club only €3.7M in agents’ fees, while the midfielder has penned a four-year contract, with a reported €7M salary.

Ramsey has been a regular at Arsenal since 2010 and racked up 359 appearances with the Gunners, scoring 61 goals and providing 64 assists. In London, he has won the FA Cup and the Community Shield three times. The 28-year-old will be the third Welsh in the history of the Bianconeri after John Charles in the late 50’s and Ian Rush in the 80’s. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 23

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Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi will be good to go after leaving the last game with a chest injury. On the other hand, Douglas Costa is iffy due to a bruised quad and Leonardo Spinazzola has a sore ankle. Giorgio Chiellini (calf) will be out again, while Leonardo Bonucci (ankle) is making a late push to be in the squad list.

Napoli: Amin Younes is having troubles with the surgically repaired Achilles tendon. Raul Albiol is reportedly dealing with a patellar tendon issue that could turn out to be a very serious one.

Inter: Matteo Politano will serve the final game of his suspension. Balde Keita has been called up despite the coach saying that he is not ready. Borja Valero is out with knee soreness.

Continue reading

Genoa and Piatek finding Serie A life difficult

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The early form of Genoa was one the biggest stories from Serie A in the opening weeks of the season, with Ivan Juric’s side a regular fixture in the top ten.

After the first seven games of the 2018-19 season, they were sitting in sixth, following  wins over Empoli, Bologna, Chievo and Frosinone.

Much of this positivity was down to the goal scoring exploits of 23 year old striker Krzysztof Piatek, who netted 12 goals in first eight games in Italian football.

Signed from Cracovia in the summer, he took Serie A by storm in the opening two months of the campaign, earning a call up, and a goal on his competitive debut with the Polish national team.

Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 12

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The next slate before another international break is pretty juicy.

Genoa-Napoli: the Griffon have not won in four games and the effects of the coaching change have not been palpable, since they continue to concede a lot. They lost twice in San Siro last week and the schedule does not do them any favor. The Partenopei easily romped Empoli last week and have won three out of their last four games, looking splendid at times. Krzysztof Piatek has not scored for four games in a row, which is unlikely to be a coincidence, and their last goals under Milan Juric have been pretty random, by Cristian Romero on a free kick, by Romulo on a penalty and by Daniel Bessa on a defensive mishap. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 10

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Standings implications: Juventus run into some troubles in Empoli, but still escaped with a win thanks to his ace. It turned out to be a meaningful result because Napoli were halted at home by Roma. Milan grabbed a quality win over Sampdoria. Torino and Fiorentina shared the spoils on Saturday, while Atalanta soundly defeated Parma to nab their second victory in a row. Frosinone finally won one by blindsiding SPAL in Ferrara. Udinese came back twice versus Genoa.

Confirmations: Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a brace, including a wondergoal, which remedied to Francesco Caputo’s brilliant strike. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Player Status Updates – Round 5

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Juventus: Sami Khedira and Mattia De Sciglio both pulled their hamstrings and are unlikely to be available for the upcoming three games. Douglas Costa was handed a four-game suspension in Serie A and got hurt in Valencia as well, but the test results have yet to be announced. Andrea Barzagli remains out with a calf problem.

Napoli: no significant updates on their long-term injured players, since Alex Meret and Faouzi Ghoulam are still working their way back from an arm and a kneecap fracture. Amin Younes could return sooner rather than later from an Achilles tear. Adam Ounas is out with muscle fatigue. Continue reading