Sarri assesses few players in pre-game presser

Maurizio Sarri began the presser before the Cagliari tilt by detailing what they did during the break: “We worked on several mistakes we made. We focused on ourselves before studying the Sardinians late in the week. We need to improve our mentality, because in most game we made more error there than tactical or technical ones.”

On Matthijs De Ligt: “He had a complicate period because of a shoulder and adductor issues. He played a lot, he is super young, while Merih Demiral was in optimal shape, so we were in position to rest him. De Ligt is improving, we will see tomorrow.” Continue reading

Serie A Round 17 Mini Preview

Sampdoria-Juventus: the Blucerchiati are not the most good-looking side in the Peninsula, but they are often capable of getting the job done due to extemporaneous goals, with the Derby della Lanterna serving as the latest example. Fabio Quagliarella is a bit banged and could not follow up his great display in Cagliari, while Manolo Gabbiadini has been their top scorer with four goals so far. The other guy stepping up to the plate has been Gaston Ramirez, who has notched three goals and one assist in the past two months. Besides the trio, it is hard to trust other players fantasy-wise even though Jakub Jankto will likely be back in the XI and Fabio Depaoli has recovered from his injury. Karol Linetty and Morten Thorsby are pretty energetic players, and the Polish midfielder picked up an assist in the last fixture, but they usually do not contribute much in the offensive end. Continue reading

Sarri updates on injuries and comments on Rabiot and Can

Maurizio Sarri was back in front of the reporters for the usual pre-game presser ahead of the Udinese tilt: “We need to improve mentally after the Champions League matches since they are draining. Luca Gotti is highly intelligent, I am happy for him to receive this big opportunity even though he was reluctant about it.”

On possibly using a more aggressive lineup: “That has nothing to do with being offensive. A mentality is offensive, it does not matter the numbers of forwards that are on the pitch. I think that the most defensive scheme in the world in 3-4-3. We need certain conditions to deploy all three strikers together.” Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 16

Atalanta: Josip Ilicic is out due to a thigh pull and their president confirmed that Duvan Zapata will be back in early 2020. Alejandro Gomez is out because of a knock. 

Bologna: Ladislav Krejci and Roberto Soriano have resumed practicing after their knee problems and could be in the squad list over the weekend.

Brescia: Andrea Cistana is suspended, Alfredo Donnarumma is fatigued but should be available. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 16

Napoli-Parma: there is great curiosity to see what immediate changes Gennaro Gattuso will bring to the table. In his introductory presser, he hinted that he is going to use 4-3-3, which would lead to few duels up front. The first order of business will have to be reviving Lorenzo Insigne, who has not fared well in a long time, while Dries Mertens is in a domestic slump but has done some damage in Europe. Arkadiusz Milik came back midweek and he looked like a million bucks and he was en fuego before getting injured. He should be front and center in the new project. The new tactic would see José Callejon and Hirving Lozano alternate and the Mexican winger has abated after a decent stretch. It would give Piotr Zielinski and Fabian Ruiz more freedom and the Polish midfielder finally broke through last week. Giovanni Di Lorenzo is trending back up after a period of lull.

Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 15

Atalanta: Duvan Zapata flew back to Sevilla after further checks on his thigh and now it is unlikely that he will return before January. Marten De Roon and Simon Kjaer are questionable because of knee soreness and muscle fatigue respectively.

Bologna: Gary Medel is suspended. Mitchell Dijks underwent further tests on his injured second toe and he will be sidelined for two-for-three months. Roberto Soriano is unlikely to be back from his knee edema. Mattia Bani, Blerin Dzemaili and Ladislav Krejci picked up some dings and bruises in the Coppa Italia game: the left-back did not make the squad list, while the two centre-backs are available.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 14

Atalanta: Luis Muriel and Hans Hateboer subbed off due to knocks on the knee in Champions League, but there is optimism they will be able to play Saturday. Duvan Zapata flew to Spain for further check-ups on his thigh and will remain sidelined. Rafael Toloi is suspended. Simon Kjaer has been ruled out due to fatigue. 

Bologna: Mattia Destro is improving after his knee problem and could be called up, while Mitchell Dijks (toe) and Roberto Soriano (knee) are having troubles absorbing edemas. The midfielder is actually at risk of missing all the December games. Federico Santander is nursing a thigh strain. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 13

Atalanta-Juventus: after producing at an historic pace through the first ten weeks, the Goddess failed to score in their last two matches against Sampdoria and Cagliari. Josip Ilicic and Ruslan Malinovskyi are suspended, but the Slovenian attacker has appealed, but they will get a boost from the return of Duvan Zapata, who is expected to feature at least in limited capacity. He notched six goals in seven appearances before getting hurt. Luis Muriel is no longer red-hot, as he has not found the target in the last three rounds, but he will be again their main scoring option from the jump. Alejandro Gomez is going through something similar, but he always has loads of potential as an assist-man. Mario Pasalic is likely to move to the hole and he can pretty sneaky there. Robin Gosens has been their best wing-back so far, but also Timothy Castagne has hit the net once. Continue reading

Solving Sarri’s Attacking Conundrum

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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Sarri updates on injured players and more in pre-Milan presser

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