Allegri’s presser before Genoa-Juventus

Juventus Press Conference

Coach Massimiliano Allegri previewed the clash with Genoa with the press earlier today: “We must balanced in this moment. We pulled off something extraordinary on Tuesday, it was a special, great an important night. We must celebrate it, but once that is done we must dive back into Serie A because there four games before the quarterfinals.”

On Cristiano Ronaldo: “He will not be suspended in Champions League. Otherwise they will have to disqualify the whole stadium. I see it as a regular celebration. He will stay home tomorrow, he needs to recover because he has played a lot. He will also feature with Portugal during the break.” Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 28

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SPAL-Roma: the Estensi are pretty much starving for points as they collected just one in their last five games, against Sassuolo, and were beaten by Atalanta, Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Inter, further signaling their struggles against good competition. Their lead over the danger zone has been cut to just two points. The Giallorossi partially course corrected after a rough week with a narrow win over Empoli, where they did not look imposing and were lucky in the end, but also had to endure a host of absences. One of the main issues for the Biancazzurri has been the fact that they have not identified reliable offensive contributors other than Andrea Petagna, Jasmin Kurtic and Manuel Lazzari and the house of cards crumbled once the wing back was sidelined by an injury. Continue reading

Cristiano Ronaldo is a freak of nature

It’s not hard to see why he is so admired by the masses. For year after year, Cristiano Ronaldo has been on top of the world with his performances at Manchester United and Real Madrid. And in Tuesday evening’s Champions League second leg in Turin, the Portuguese superstar rose to the occasion once more.

After losing 2-0 away at Atletico Madrid, not many gave the Bianconeri much hope in qualifying for the quarter finals, especially giving Diego Simeone’s robust and relentless defensive solidity at the back. The Argentine manager has a reputation of seeing out wins and the ability to nullify other teams’ offensive weapons.

However, with Ronaldo one the opposition’s team, and his fantastic record against Atletico, it was only a matter of time before the floodgates were opened by the Portugal captain. It can be argued that Ronaldo is the best header of the football to ever play the game, and his opening two goals justify that.

The way the centre forward leaps in the air and maintains his hang time is nothing short of magnificent. In his opening goal, Diego Godin had no chance of matching his aerial height and rose above the Uruguayan to sneak the  ball past Jan Oblak. For his second, Ronaldo’s movement in between the two central defenders allowed him some space to meet the ball in the air and just about get it over the line.

Ronaldo does not feel nerves and relishes high pressure situations. Time after time, he has come up trumps for Real Madrid, which is exactly why they have struggled so magnificently to uphold their own standards domestically and in Europe. Perhaps some at Los Blancos didn’t give as much credit to Ronaldo as they needed to.

If having won the Champions League five times throughout his career wasn’t enough, Ronaldo also has the most goals, assists, headed goals, home goals, away goals, free-kick goals and many other type of goals to his names. To put simply: Ronaldo is a machine that simply cannot be stopped in Europe.

There is not another footballer currently playing that has the same drive and devotion to his craft than Ronaldo, which is consistently being talked about by ex-teammates that have played with him throughout the years. The typical anecdotes of being the first one there and the last one to leave might seem endless, but that sacrifice is what has made Ronaldo the superstar he is today.

Whichever club Juventus are paired with in the quarter finals will know that, no matter the lead they have, it is going to always be an uphill battle when keeping Ronaldo quiet. Manchester United managed to do it in Turin under José Mourinho, but that was in a group stage game with little consequences. In a knockout format, Ronaldo raises his performances levels tenfold – only then is when you see the real player at work.

At 34 years old, it is clear that Ronaldo is slowing down somewhat and cherry picks his games, but Juventus are only after one thing that has eluded them for many years: the Champions League. There is no better player to deliver that than the Portugal international, who has already delivered an amazing comeback spectacle at the Allianz Stadium.

Juventus Top Performers – UCL Round of 16 Return Leg

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Juventus painted a masterpiece on Tuesday night, thanks to an amazing collective effort, a rarely seen fierceness and an out-of-the-blue tactical solution and got the ‘magical night’ they have been looking for.

Joao Cancelo: he was arguably one of the least effective players on the pitch, relatively speaking and considering his skills, as he could have done more with all the space he had at his disposal. However, bonus points are part of the equation and he sent in a pinpoint cross to set up Cristiano Ronaldo’s second goal. Continue reading

D-Day awaits for Juventus and Ronaldo in the Champions League

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Juventus are cruising to their 8th Serie A title in a row as they have extended their lead over Napoli to a massive 18 points with just 33 left on the table but it hasn’t been all plain sailing for the team when it comes to the Champions League.

The Old Lady have made life difficult for themselves coming into their 2nd leg against Atletico Madrid and are trailing the game 2-0. Though Juve will be at home in a packed stadium roaring them on, when the two teams meet the only thing that will matter will be who scores first. If it’s Juventus then their tails will be up and the ascendency will be fully with the Italians who could well end up making a fantastic comeback. But if Atletico score first then Juve will need 4, which even with a fit Ronaldo looks difficult to achieve.

The disappointment of exiting the Champions League would be huge for Juventus who bought Ronaldo at 33 for 100m euros based on the fact he had just won 3 Champions League titles in a row, and him and his team Real Madrid had beaten Juventus in the final and knocked them out of another competition. The signing of Ronaldo was supposed to be the final piece in the jigsaw to bring the glory back to the Italian giants who have not won the competition since 1996.

Since then it has been a history of also rans, maybes and defeats. In 1997 on the verge of winning back to back titles they were outclassed by German side Borussia Dortmund who won 3-1. Their next final came in 2003 which ended up being an all Italian one against AC Milan. After an inevitable 120 minutes of football with the scores locked at 0-0 Milan triumphed on penalties.

After a difficult decade in the 2000s which saw the team relegated through the bribery and betting scandals that engulfed in Serie A they bounced back to where they are now and completely dominating Serie A football. But that still included two more final losses in the Champions League. First in 2015 against Barcelona and then in 2017 against Real Madrid. It is a competition which just seems to allude them year after year.

It certainly did to club legend Gianluigi Buffon who took the risk to leave and join PSG, and the long line of misery followed him with PSG being knocked out at the round of 16. Juventus and Ronaldo could follow him and them in a season which could be written off as underwhelming even if they are dominating in Italy.

Is Zidane the right choice for Real Madrid?

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No one could’ve predicted a scenario that saw Zinedine Zidane take over the Real Madrid hotseat just 10 months after he left it, but that’s precisely what’s happened in the aftermath of Los Blancos sacking their second coach this season, Santiago Solari.

The reasons could be many and though he’s not short of a euro or two, financial considerations will surely have played a huge part.

A promise from Florentino Perez that certain players will arrive or that Zidane will have a war chest of cash to go out and buy the very best is likely to be another. Continue reading

Cristiano thinks positively and Curva Sud announce truce

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Cristiano Ronaldo spoke to Juventus TV on Sunday: “I think this team is having an exceptional season, especially in Serie A. We have a large lead over the second team, the squad is strong and we are happy for our performances. We have took home the Supercoppa against Milan, our goal now is Scudetto and obviously Champions League.”

“The lads are fine and confident, we believe in the comeback. We want to have a special night. Atletico Madrid are tough, everybody knows it: they defend well, they do not take chances and counter. But we are ready, we want to do everything we can in order to beat them. The details will make the difference, but we want to advance. This is how football is made: nobody expected to lose in the first leg, but everything can happen and we want to bounce back at home, in front of our crowd.” Continue reading

Three Players Juventus Should Sign in The Summer

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With Juventus on the brink of Champions League elimination after a number of unimpressive performances, it’s time for a squad overhaul. While Aaron Ramsey is a good start at addressing their woeful midfield, the Welshman alone will not be enough to propel the bianconeri to European glory. In defence, Juventus’ core is getting old with Leonardo Bonucci showing signs of wear and tear. Daniele Rugani, by contrast, has frankly not lived up to the hype and has proven to be nothing more than a luxury option off the bench. Up top, on the other hand, it’s time Juventus sign a young, link-up target man, as Dybala, Ronaldo and Mandzukic have been an awkward fit for one another. Here are three players Paratici should have at the top of his wish-list.

1) Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)

Matthijs de Ligt needs no introduction and is without a doubt Europe’s top young defender at the moment. If you look up the definition of leader in the dictionary, the young Dutchman’s face will pop up. After having won the Golden Boy award in 2018, becoming the first defender to ever win the award, de Ligt has gone from strength to strength.

Right now, de Ligt is Ajax’s rock at the back, and is captaining the side deep into the Champions League, past European supergiants and reigning champions Real Madrid. Just last month, the 19-year-old became the youngest ever player to captain his side in a Champions League knockout clash, and has not looked one bit out of place.

While competition for the defender’s signature will be at an all-time high, Paratici and co. must go all out and sign de Ligt. If it takes 80 million euros, then so be it. With Chiellini, Bonucci and Barzagli on the wrong side of 30, it’s time to refresh their backline, and what better place to start than with de Ligt. Despite his age, the Dutchman is arguably already in the top ten defenders in the world, and must emerge as a priority for the bianconeri. Otherwise, Juventus’ elite defence of the past will become nothing but a distant memory.

2) Tanguy NDombele (Lyon)

For the past two seasons, Juventus’ midfield has held the side back in Europe’s elite competition and cannot be ignored come summertime. With Ramsey already on his way on a bosman transfer, Lyon’s Tanguy NDombele would be an ideal fit alongside Juventus’ current options.

NDombele is a one-man midfield, and has consistently proven he can cut it at the highest level, especially in Lyon’s most recent clash against Barcelona. Much like de Ligt,the Lyon midfielder does not let his inexperience seep into his play, and largely dominates proceedings as if he’s a seasoned veteran in the middle of the park.

Alongside Ramsey and Pjanic, the Frenchman would be able to express himself freely and offer some much needed creativity without sacrificing industry. Right now, Blaise Matuidi and Emre Can have looked out of place in Allegri’s setup, and have proven to be far too limited for elite football.

Considering Paratici will have to deal with notorious negotiator, Lyon president and French businessman Jean-Michel Aulas, it won’t be easy. In any case, NDombele is Juventus’ best option to rebuild their midfield, both in the short-term and in the long-run.

3) Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 

This one is a bit trickier for Paratici. Safe to say, Ronaldo hasn’t yet blended in with Mandzukic and Dybala, despite his impressive goalscoring record, and Juventus require an all-round support striker to get the best out of him. At Real Madrid, Benzema acted as the Portuguese superstar’s foil.

With Mandzukic showing signs of slowing down, it may be time for Juventus to start looking at younger options up top. Since making the switch to Germany, Jovic has improved all aspects of his game and has developed into a real force to be reckoned with, scoring 21 goals and registering five assists in all competitions.

With Jovic alongside Ronaldo and Dybala behind them, whoever’s at the helm of Juventus, could recreate Zidane’s blueprint at Real Madrid and get the side scoring freely again. While it may not be an immediate need, Juventus will not have Ronaldo forever and must make the most of his presence while he’s in Turin. Jovic would go a long way in this respect.

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Allegri scoffs at rumours ahead of Juventus-Udinese

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Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri held the usual pre-game presser earlier today and did not mince words on the recent rumours about his future, while also addressing the Udinese match and giving hints about the lineup.

“We have to take home few more win regardless of our advantage. We are 18 points, six victories away from the title. Paulo Dybala has been dragging a knock on the foot since the first clash with Atletico Madrid, Mario Mandzukic has a sore knee. Cristiano Ronaldo, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini will start on the bench. Joao Cancelo and Miralem Pjanic are suspended. Douglas Costa is visibly improving, not for tomorrow but for Tuesday. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 27

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Juventus-Udinese: despite being under siege for the whole second half, the Bianconeri survived in Napoli and further broaden their lead atop of the standings. Despite the results in the domestic league, where they have won four in a row and seven in the last eight and are still undefeated, the squad seems to be trending down in the last couple of weeks. The Zebrette are coming off two massive wins over Chievo and Bologna, which allowed them to jump to the 15th position and move seven points clear of the final three spots. Miralem Pjanic and Joao Cancelo are suspended and coach Massimiliano Allegri is expected to heavily rotate the squad ahead of the second leg with Atletico Madrid, but they are not particularly deep. Continue reading