After the win over Luxembourg, which allowed Portugal to punch their ticket to Euro 2020, Cristiano Ronaldo put a bow to the controversy surrounding him recently in an interview with A Bola: “I have been limited by an injury in the past three weeks. There was not any polemic on my part, but it is true that I do not like to sub off. I have tried to help Juventus playing through it and was taken out in the last two matches. Nobody likes that, but I understand because I was not 100 percent.” Continue reading
Since returning from the first international break, Juventus have looked lethargic in the final third and have struggled to find the back of the net. In a majority of the biaconeri’s wins, one goal has separated them from their opponent and they have rarely played the opposition off the pitch. While much was promised when Maurizio Sarri was hired, we are yet to see Sarriball in full flow. Currently, the former Napoli tactician is faced with a selection headache in the final third and is under immense pressure to make his front-three fire on all cylinders.
Right now, Cristiano Ronaldo is experiencing a rough patch and has arguably played his worst football in recent memory. Sarri has not shied away from tough decisions and has subbed off the Portuguese superstar in Juventus’ last two wins. Despite reports suggesting Ronaldo was carrying a knock, the former Real Madrid man joined up with Portugal for the international break and scored a hat-trick.
Alongside him, Sarri has typically opted for one of Gonzalo Higuain or Paulo Dybala. In Sarri’s ‘Christmas-Tree’ (4-3-1-2) formation, an out-and-out number nine is of the utmost importance and Higuain has thrived since returning. Whether he’s linking up the attack with deft touches around the box or creating space for himself to score, Higuain has epitomized what a modern number nine is and is almost undroppable.
Much like Higuain, Dybala has benefitted greatly from Sarri’s arrival and has put last season’s woes behind him. Most recently, la Joya scored a crucial goal against Milan, gliding past their captain Alessio Romagnoli as if he wasn’t there. Before these match-winning exploits, Dybala notched a brace against Lokomotiv Moscow and has regularly been Juventus’ best player this season. Given his good form along with Higuain’s importance to Sarri’s tactical schemes, it’s difficult to leave one of them on the bench.
Yet, in the name of balance, it needs to be done. Otherwise, with Dybala, Higuain and Ronaldo all on the pitch, Sarri fears Juve would be overrun in the midfield. He briefly used the trio together against Inter but promptly brought on another midfielder into the fold to regain control.
Factor in Douglas Costa’s return to fitness and electric nature on the ball and it’s clear Sarri is faced with quite the selection conundrum in attack. Should he play a 4-3-3 to accommodate the Brazilian? On the other hand, who should he drop between Higuain and Dybala? Finally, and perhaps most crucially, how does he get the most out of an out-of-form Ronaldo? These are all questions Sarri will be pondering deeply over the course of this international break and will largely come to define this season.
Despite the headaches these issues may give him, it’s a positive problem for Sarri. After all, who wouldn’t want an attack as deep and as versatile as Juve’s? The important thing now, however, is piecing it all together all-while maintaining defensive solidity and balance. Sounds easy, right? Wrong.
As Sarri has shown, this prospect is much more difficult than it seems and is a delicate situation to approach. Over the course of the next months, Sarri’s handling of the situation will dictate how far Juve will go and will shape the future of Juventus’ attack.
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Leonardo Bonucci weighed on Cristiano Ronaldo leaving the stadium after subbing off against Milan at the end of a presser in Coverciano, where Italy practice: “We will discuss it when we will be all back in Turin. There are a lot of games left to be played, he will have several opportunities to do better than in the past and achieve new records for himself and for Juventus.”
Despite the recent knee ailment, after stating that he felt great before the game, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Lituania. According to a report coming from Portugal, which was not confirmed by Italian sources, the star has already cleared things up with the coach and will have a meeting with vice-president Pavel Nedved and few teammates after he will return from international duties. Continue reading
The big clash in Serie A at the weekend was against Juventus and AC Milan, which in truth meant a lot more 15 years ago and it was a game that Juventus would narrowly win 1-0. But the result was not the talking point, indeed it was all over a substitution.
In world football there are two players who, if they get subbed, can make headlines. One is Lionel Messi and the other is Cristiano Ronaldo and at the weekend for the second consecutive game in a row, the Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri substituted CR7 a.k.a Cristiano Ronaldo.
When it happened in the 55th minute the game was 0-0 and Ronaldo was none too pleased. He trundled off in what appeared to be a huge mood and then reportedly make the bizarre decision to leave the stadium before the end of the game. If this is true he has completely undermined Sarri. Sarri himself tried to play the incident down, saying in a nutshell that it was normal for Ronaldo to be upset and that he would be worried taking off a player that didn’t show emotion. It was nothing more than a textbook response, and Sarri should be boiling inside at Ronaldo’s actions.
On the face of it there has been a falling out and Sarri has no fears about making the decision that most coaches would fear in bringing off Ronaldo. But there is more than meets the eye and it seems that the Portuguese player has been suffering with a niggling knee problem the past few weeks.
It was also reported that before his substitution he had looked at his knee, hobbled a little and looked at the bench. However if true why would he be so angry at coming off? There is a competitiveness but there is also a danger of taking that too far and picking up a much worse injury in the long run.
Ronaldo is a total professional most of the time and nearing 35 next year is still scoring the goals and performing in games. However he got it wrong this time and Sarri was simply trying to protect his player. Maybe he was listening to recent comments too where Ronaldo admitted that he would only want to play in the very important games and Champions League ones.
The game ended with a Pablo Dybala goal, and to rub the salt into Ronaldo’s wounds, Dybala was the player who replaced Ronaldo.
Let’s hope Juventus and Sarri has the courage to fine Ronaldo for his actions, could you imagine a younger player doing the same and getting away with it?
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Maurizio Sarri assessed the status and the performances of few of his players in the press conference before the clash with Milan: “They are a good team that did not start off well, but this matters relatively in a single game. We have to play with a different intensity in the back compared to the game in Moscow and in order to do that we have to take the field in slightly different manner.”
On Cristiano Ronaldo: “I still do not know because he was with the medical staff yesterday. We will see later today and then tomorrow morning. He is not dealing with anything serious, just some pain in his knee that causes him some troubles during the games.” Continue reading
With the international break around the corner, most sides are looking to go into it on a positive note. Inter take on a resolute Hellas Verona while Juventus will host a struggling Milan on Sunday. Napoli, a side in revolt against their upper management, will be taking on a Genoa side who have improved from week-to-week under Thiago Motta. Otherwise, the capital sides are in action as Roma take on Parma and Lazio will look to overcome Lecce.
With match-day 12 upon us, here are FIVE players you should consider dropping from your fantacalcio side. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Gianluigi Donnarumma (GK, Milan, Value 12.44) – The Milan goalkeeper has struggled in recent times and has let in a few goals he’d be hoping to have back. Given the uncertainty in front of him, Donnarumma is often left vulnerable by his defence and will continue conceding goals. Despite this, he knows he’ll have to be better, especially with league leaders Juventus coming up this weekend.
For the time being, swap the Italian international out of your side in favour of a low-cost option. At least until the Milan man hits top form again.
Lorenzo Insigne (ATT, Napoli, Value 17.25) – Being referred to as the leader of the ongoing mutiny at Napoli, Lorenzo Insigne has been far from his best this season. With the side refusing to go into a ritiro against the club’s orders, expect Insigne’s play to suffer as a result. That’s if he plays, of course.
Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti may be looking to make a statement and bench his captain given recent events. Given Arkadiusz Milik’s good form, expect Insigne to register limited minutes for the next few weeks as the situation unfolds further.
Fabian Ruiz (MID, Napoli, Value 14.44) – The Napoli midfielder was expected to take the next step in his career this season, but has struggled with consistency. This season, the partenopei have often lacked balance in the midfield and have left their rearguard exposed due to the lack of a real number six. Whether it’s Piotr Zielinski or Allan alongside Ruiz, it seems they’re an awkward fit and could use a more robust presence.
Despite this, Ruiz has impressed in the final third but can’t convert his positive play into end-product. Currently, he has one goal and two assists and let’s face it, Napoli have come to expect way more from the Spaniard international. Given the ongoing revolution at Napoli, it would be wise to swap Fabian out of your sides, at least until they steady the ship.
Cristiano Ronaldo (ATT, Juventus, Value 18.86) – The Juventus superstar has looked a shade of his former self over the course of the last month and is likely playing with a knock. Uninvolved in the build-up play and one step off in the final third, Ronaldo has had a rough start to the season and has struggled to find the back of the net with regularity. The former Real Madrid man was subbed out against Lokomotiv Moscow most recently indicating he may be injured.
With a clash against Milan on the horizon, Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri may opt to rest Ronaldo in favour of the in-form Gonzalo Higuain. Considering Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa have both looked dangerous in possession together recently, it’s very possible they all start.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (MID, Lazio, Value 17.25) – Following his breakout season, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has disappointed and has failed to reach his former heights. The Serbian international arguably needs a change of scenery for newfound motivation, but the fact remains that the Lazio man isn’t dictated proceedings as much as he would have liked. One goal and three assists in his ten starts highlight his relatively indifferent form.
Given his increased price-tag, it’s time you get ride of Milinkovic-Savic for the foreseeable future.
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Atalanta: Josip Ilicic was handed a two-game suspension for kicking an opponent from behind. Duvan Zapata is not ready to come back from his thigh strain. Robin Gosens is dealing with sciatica. Ruslan Malinovskyi has a sore glute. Remo Freuler is bang up as well and the trio is legitimately questionable.
Bologna: Roberto Soriano has been ruled out due to a knee bruise, Federico Santander because of a calf one. Takehiro Tomiyasu (thigh), Mitchell Dijks (toe contusion) and Mattia Destro (knee soreness) stay on the shelf. Continue reading
Alex Meret: he quickly bounced back from an uncharacteristic error and Napoli have had a stingy back-line at home, giving up multiple goals just once. They might be able to take advantage of the fact that Genoa’s best striker, Christian Kouame, will not be available. David Ospina also showed pretty well when called upon.
Stefan De Vrij: Inter have conceded in few games in a row, but Verona have struggled almightily to produce offensively and will be without one of their main weapons, Miguel Veloso. The Dutch defenders has been able to feed the strikers twice thanks to his strong passing game. Continue reading
Inter-Verona: while Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku continue to be very reliable, the Beneamata are getting additional pieces back, as Matias Vecino scored in Champions League and Stefano Sensi looked pretty good in his stint off the bench. The two are certainly better fantasy options than Roberto Gagliardini, who filled in while they were sidelined, and the ex Sassuolo player, in particular, was fantastic at the beginning of the season. Valentino Lazaro was okay against Brescia and his skill-set is interesting, especially against the minnows where he would not need to defend a lot. Matteo Politano got hurt in Dortmund, so the first man up off the bench in the attack would be Salvatore Esposito. Verona have scored just nine times so far, so their back-line is certainly in play despite the ongoing clean sheet-less run. Continue reading
Juventus replicated the exact same performance they had in Lecce on Wednesday and it almost ended with the same result, if it was not for a blatant mistake by an opponent and a perfect Cristiano Ronaldo penalty to save the day.
Leonardo Bonucci (3 points): the back-line produced a goal with the interim captain, who was very foxy in cashing in on an uncertainty by Andrei Radu for a pretty comfortable header. However, they gift wrapped another goal to the enemies, this time with Alex Sandro being the culprit with a schoolboy error, as those errant passes should never even considered, let alone actually made, in that area. Daniele Rugani was rusty and it showed and he risked being sent off way too often. He could be a reclamation project down the line, but this was not the right game to trot him out. Continue reading