Serie A Match of the Round – Sampdoria vs Inter

Inter won again, improving to 6-0 in the season, but they had to go the extra mile to defeat Sampdoria and responded with great character in a difficult situation, which resulted in the most entertaining game of the week in a Serie A round that had few lopsided results and low-scoring matches.

Antonio Conte rotated the squad a lot, changing seven men compared to the midweek round and inserting Alessandro Bastoni, Roberto Gagliardini and Alexis Sanchez, who started for the first time, in lieu of Diego Godin, Nicolò Barella and Romelu Lukaku. Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Round – Sampdoria vs Lazio

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Some hard-fought contests in this round: the most intense turned out to be Sampdoria-Lazio, as the Blucerchiati did not roll over despite the events of the first half.

The locals came into the game looking for three points to fuel a desperate comeback for the Europa League zone after they had dropped three of the last four fixtures, while Lazio were riding the high of reaching the Coppa Italia final and had to atone for the incredible loss to Chievo last week.

Marco Giampaolo selected Alex Ferrari to substitute the injured Joachim Andersen and, as it has often been the case, chose Gaston Ramirez and Gregoire Defrel to fill out the front-line next to Fabio Quagliarella. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 33

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Standings implications: Juventus garnered the final points they needed for the title against Fiorentina. Torino were the only team to succeed in the European races, since Roma shared the spoils with Inter, Milan were pipped at post in Parma and Lazio were stunned by Chievo. Atalanta will play on Monday in Naples. Empoli find themselves in a hole after being torpedoed by SPAL at home and the Estensi have now comfortable lead over the last three places. Udinese tied with Sassuolo, taking a little step forward since they are four points above the Azzurri, but were leapfrogged by Bologna, whic thumped Sampdoria. Cagliari arrived at the 40-point mark with their W over Frosinone, whose relegation is pretty much a done deal. Genoa keep spiraling, but they still have a little cushion before being in serious troubles.    Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Week – Sampdoria

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Sampdoria defeated the cross-town rivals in dominating fashion, deservedly earning the weekly shout-out. They approached the Derby seeking to atone after being upended by Torino and Roma in the previous two round and losing momentum in the Europa League race.

Marco Giampaolo marshaled his men with his usual diamond formation, picking Jacopo Sala over Bartosz Bereszynski at right back and preferring Gaston Ramirez to Riccardo Saponara in the hole. The returning Albin Ekdal anchored the midfield. Continue reading

Juventus Curva to go on strike against Atletico Madrid and Audero sold

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While the anticipation for the return leg of the Atletico Madrid clash continues to rise, the Juventus Stadium crowd might not be at the top of its game on March 12th because the hardcore fans, barring a change of heart, are set to go on a strike again on that occasion. The Curva goers have been at odds with the club for the ticket price spikes all year long and, while they should still attend the match, they are expected to remain silent throughout the contest, like in the past two fixtures.

Mariella Scirea, who is the president of the center that coordinates the fan clubs, made a last-ditch appeal: “This is the time to cheer for our squad, now more than ever. I tell that to all the supporters, organized or not. The interest of our beloved Juventus is at stake here. Continue reading

Juventus looking for ways to bring in cash

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Juventus are trying to solidify the balance sheets after the mammoth investment for Cristiano Ronaldo and, after the board of directors had approved it yesterday, the club announced the placement of €175M non-convertible bond due on February 19, 2024. The notes will be issued at a 99.434% price and will pay a fixed annual coupon of 3.375% and will be listed in the Global Exchange Market of Euronext Dublin.

Per the official statement, the decision aims at “providing resources for its general corporate purposes, streamlining the structure and the maturity of the debt.” The transaction attracted order in excess of €250M, receiving demands from Asia, Germany, France, UK and Italy. Continue reading

Caceres and Benatia speak, Juventus sell Audero and road records

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The arrival of Martin Caceres was made official yesterday and the defender re-introduced himself to the club’s TV: “I am very happy for this return, this has always been my home. When I received the proposal, I looked back at all my years here. This jersey has been part of my heart. Everything comes in threes and it is the second time I join in January. I scored on my debut twice and they were meaningful goals, so I hope it will happen again. This team, despite all their winning, does not want to stop and that is how I felt about them looking at them from the outside. I have played in every position in the back-line, so I can be a jack-of-all-trades that can help the squad. I will bring enthusiasm and I will give my best, trying to prove every day that I am the same player I was when I left two and half years ago. As far as Cristiano Ronaldo goes, his career speaks for itself and he can prove in Serie A too what kind of champion he is.” Continue reading

Atalanta and Sampdoria: Serie A’s Party Crashers

Every season there’s one team in Serie A that pushes above their weight and vies for European football among the league’s elite. With Lazio, Milan and Roma all fighting for top four this year, they all seem to have forgotten about Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta and Marco Giampaolo’s Sampdoria. Both sides have been in excellent form playing impressive football and have now entered the Champions League race without making too much of a fuss. Right now, the five teams are separated by a mere three points going into a crucial stage of the season.

Led by the eternal Fabio Quagliarella, who has now scored in 11 consecutive games equalling Gabriel Batistuta’s record in the process, Sampdoria find themselves just two points back behind fourth place Milan. Giampaolo has been able to get the most out of his men in his preferred ‘Christmas Tree’ formation (4-3-1-2) and has since attracted interest from the peninsula’s elite for his good work. Insisting on possession football and building patiently, the blucerchiati have dominated the opposition at times, and have proven to be a match for any team in the league.

While Quagliarella is the one bagging the goals, the impressive work done by midfield dynamos Dennis Praet and Karol Linetty should not go unnoticed. Juventus loanee Emil Audero has also manned the sticks wonderfully in his debut season in Serie A, especially with the veteran presence of Lorenzo Tonelli in front of him.

Atalanta, on the other hand, have played some explosive football this season and lead the league in scoring with 47 goals. In fact, gli Orobici have found the back of the net 16 times in their last four league games, three of which coming most recently in their comeback against Roma on the weekend. With Duvan Zapata flanked by Alejandro Gomez and Josip Ilicic, Gasperini’s side posses arguably one of the world’s most underrated front-lines. Zapata is currently on 15 goals on the season and has now scored in Atalanta’s last nine games in all competitions.

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Little Bryan’s tale, Audero talks Juventus past and future, social media followers

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A heartwarming story involving Juventus made the rounds in the weekend as Paul Pogba on Twitter celebrated the return on the pitch of Bryan Jocelyn Dodien, who plays in the U-15 team and has been battling cancer since 2015: “What a blessing it is that Bryan beat cancer and now played his first game with Juve U15. So proud of you my friend, merci for being an inspiration to me and so many others. Hope to see you soon!”

Bryan has been playing for Juventus since he was a little kid, but he got sick three years ago and obviously had to stop to take on a much more important fight. In 2015, the midfielder dedicated to him a goal in Coppa Italia. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Week – Milan vs Sampdoria

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There were few interesting match-ups in this round and, while Napoli-Roma had the most magnitude, Milan vs Sampdoria had the highest entertainment value.

The Rossoneri came into the game looking to bounce back after two tough losses in the past four days in the Derby della Madonnina and against Real Betis in Europa League. The Blucerchiati were coming off a nil-nil tie against Sassuolo and are enjoying a nice start of the season, sustained by a rock-solid defense.

Gennaro Gattuso chose Diego Laxalt and Patrick Cutrone to replace the regular starters Giacomo Bonaventura and Hakan Calhanoglu, both dealing with some nagging injuries, and tilted his usual scheme to a regular 4-4-2. Continue reading