Sarri addresses the left back crisis in pre-SPAL presser

Coach Maurizio Sarri gave some hints about the lineup and updated on the status of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic in the presser before the SPAL game.

On the hole at left back: “I saw that the executive Federico Cherubini is left-footed, I will try him there too. I do not consider the three-man defence an option if not for small chunks of games because we would end up defending with five and therefore track back too much. It also does not eliminate the fact that we have to put somebody on the left flank, we have some problems on the wings right now. We tried a solution yesterday, we will go through another one today and we will see.” Continue reading

Sarri addresses UCL list cuts and more in pre-Fiorentina presser

Coach Maurizio Sarri rejoiced returning on the bench after battling pneumonia and dished out honest assessments about few players in the pre-game conference ahead of the game against Fiorentina.

“For a coach, being on the bench and participating to the practices it is everything. It is not easy to step aside, I thank our doctors that took care of me for 20 days and made me realize it was better to take a short pause in that moment rather than risking being out for longer at a later date. It was heavy but I accepted since the staff was working swimmingly.” Continue reading

Juventus submit UEFA list, Can’s reaction and more

Juventus communicated their UEFA list yesterday and since there is only one club-trained player in the roster this year, somebody had to be excluded and the choices fell on Mario Mandzukic, who is the third choice as centre-forward, and Emre Can who, despite playing a good chunk of the Napoli game, must have fallen behind all the other midfielders in the projected depth chart. Joining them are long-term injured players Mattia Perin, Marko Pjaca and Giorgio Chiellini. Continue reading

Juventus Turn to Bosmans to Shore up the Midfield

Following a poor season, the Juventus brass identified the midfield as a problem area and immediately snapped up Aaron Ramsey on a free transfer. Since Arturo Vidal’s departure, Juventus have lacked enterprise in the middle of the park and have been crying for help. Realizing the Welshman alone wasn’t enough, Juventus turned to Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, and Paul Pogba. Both midfielders are reportedly willing to join the bianconeri, but their astronomical price-tags are proving to be major obstacles as of right now.

As a result, Juventus have since turned their attention to Paris Saint-Germain’s Adrien Rabiot. The Frenchman’s contract is set to expire, and will shortly join the Italian champions on a five-year deal. Since breaking onto the scene in Paris, Rabiot has established himself as one of the most highly-rated talents in football, and will offer some much needed technique to Juventus’ stuttering midfield. However, the only concern with the Frenchman have been some recurring disciplinary issues that have kept him out of the side.

Equally capable of playing in front of the defence, or on the left of a midfield three, Rabiot will slot in nicely alongside Miralem Pjanic, and Ramsey. At just 24 years old, the Frenchman will only improve, and will get to work under Maurizio Sarri, a manager notorious for his ability to get the most out of technically-gifted midfielders. Under the former Napoli tactician, expect Rabiot to play higher up the pitch, near the opposition’s box.

This past season, Massimiliano Allegri often fielded Blaise Matuidi and Emre Can alongside Pjanic, and it often lead to uninspiring displays from the Italian giants. While both are accomplished professionals and offer something in their own right, neither has the ability to progress the ball in the final third and are limited as creators. The addition of Rabiot and Ramsey will go a long way in the final third without sacrificing defensive solidity, and is a good first step at rectifying the midfield.

Without counting excessive signing-on fees and agent bonuses involved in these deals, their acquisitions don’t take away from Juve’s existing budget, allowing them to bolster their side further. In recent times, Juventus have emerged as front-runners for Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, and are ready to table a 70 million euros bid for the defender. In addition, they are also offering the Dutchman 12 million euros a season, in order to fend off interest from PSG and Barcelona.

While de Ligt’s signing may not be directly linked to Rabiot and Ramsey’s arrivals, these free transfers definitely allowed Juventus to reallocate their budget towards the Dutchman and make him a priority once the opportunity presented itself.

Considering Manchester United are demanding upwards of 120 million euros for Pogba, and Lotito is playing hard-ball over the Serbian international, adding Rabiot on a bosman may prove to be the injection Juve needed in the midfield. After all, if it means they can also sign de Ligt, one of Europe’s elite defenders in addition to two midfielders, who says no?

It appears that Juventus, for the first time in four years, will be able to field a complete midfield capable of going toe-to-toe with Europe’s elite. And if de Ligt just happens to be behind them, all the better for Sarri and co.

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Opinion: Juventus can reload with Serie A players alone

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No matter what coach will be chosen, Juventus will have to address some glaring needs in the upcoming transfer market session, but they might be able to fill them with the usual modus operandi: plucking players from other Serie A teams. Here are some of the three biggest holes.

A heir to Giorgio Chiellini: the Old Lady had a good thing going in the first half of last season, where for a while they were able to rotate two well-assorted duos, Leonardo Bonucci-Medhi Benatia and Daniele Rugani-Chiellini, and go with Bonucci-Chiellini in the most demanding fixtures. Eventually, the Moroccan centre-back grew tired for the lack of consistent playing times and asked to leave and Martin Caceres was a temporary cheap patch. Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Round 36

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Juventus could not capitalize on a strong first half at the Olimpico Stadium, lost the plot and run out of gas in the second half and eventually conceded two silly goals and suffered the third Serie A loss of the year at the hands of Roma. No point-getters in this case for the Old Lady.

Martin Caceres: sometimes the best attribute for a centre-back is to not be mentioned for the whole duration of a game and that what the Uruguayan defender did on Sunday, holding in check Edin Dzeko and matching the adversary’s physicality. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 36

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Juventus: Paulo Dybala (calf), Rodrigo Bentancur (thigh), Emre Can (thigh) and Alex Sandro have resumed practicing fully and therefore should be available on Sunday, while Douglas Costa (calf) and Daniele Rugani (thigh) will not come back this week. Federico Bernardeschi is suspended. Moise Kean is out with the flu, Leonardo Bonucci with a bruised ankle.

Napoli: David Ospina is on personal leave to tend to a personal matter in Colombia. Nikola Maksimovic (toe) is slated to remain on the shelf, while Amadou Diawara (foot) got in a full practice after a long time, so he might be called up. Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Adam Ounas have been surprisingly ruled out due to small ailments.
Continue reading

Allegri previews the Derby della Mole

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Another week, another pre-game presser for Massimiliano Allegri: “Daniele Rugani has been ruled out because of a sore adductor. Martin Caceres is back, Andrea Barzagli is doing better but I will let him rest. Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will start tomorrow, we will not use a three-man defense.”

On his future: “We will meet to plan and talk about this season, what worked and what did not and what we can do ahead of the next one. We have to evaluate how to improve the squad, what our goals will be and what the ideas of the president will be. It is normal, we have talked this morning and the day before yesterday. Continue reading

Allegri Set to Experiment in Final Games

With their season all but wrapped up, Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is ready to take the opportunity and experiment with his roster. In recent press conferences, the Juventus tactician has alluded to the fact that he’s ready to try new things with his eleven, and will reportedly start doing so with the Inter game. This season, Allegri has altered his eleven almost every single game, which in turn, lead Juventus to play without a clear identity regularly. With the pressure now on Allegri more than ever, it’s of paramount importance that he finally nails down his best formation, and setup ahead of the new season.

In his pre-match press conference before the Inter game, Allegri told reporters the following:

“Bernardeschi is forced to play as a forward but I want to see if he can play as a central midfielder in the future. It’s an experiment that excites me. The other variation I want to try is that of Cancelo as a mezz’ala. Other than that, seeing Emre Can in defence is nothing new.”

As Allegri suggested here, Bernardeschi’s future could be as a mezz’ala. The former Fiorentina man has featured centrally at times this season with success. With Juventus lacking quality in the middle of the park, an issue that plagued the side in the Champions League, Bernardeschi’s quality has been a welcomed addition in the midfield, and has offered some much needed innovation from deep.

Cancelo, on the other hand, started the season wonderfully, and was a constant menace down the right-hand side early on. However, as the season wore on, the Portuguese international slowed down, and struggled to impose himself on games. In addition, Cancelo proved to be a defensive liability at times, switching off in crucial moments.

As a result, Allegri often opted for Mattia De Sciglio, and is now considering using Cancelo in the midfield. While this idea is an interesting one, Cancelo’s future is, without a doubt, at right back and deserves to prove himself there. The former Valencia man, like any other young defender, will make defensive mistakes, and will need to learn from them. When he was in form, he was one of Juve’s best players bar none, and deserves a shot to recreate that form next season. As a result, this midfield experiment should hopefully be just that; an experiment.

As for Emre Can, his future may, in fact, lie in defence. The Juventus faithful were first given a glimpse of this in their Champions League encounter against Atletico Madrid, when the German dropped back from midfield as Juventus’ third centre-back alongside Bonucci and Chiellini. In doing so, Can nullified Alvaro Morata’s threat and arguably had his best performance in bianconero. This tactical wrinkle bore fruits, and is something Allegri will have on his mind moving into next season. When the former Liverpool man first broke out through the German ranks, it was in defence. Next season, expect to see more of Can at the back, especially considering Juve’s recent struggles back there.

While claiming their eighth consecutive Scudetto early was anticlimactic, it gives Allegri a unique opportunity to experiment with his side in ways that weren’t possible before. Whether it’s Bernardeschi in midfield or Can in defence, expect to see a different Juve next season.

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Juventus Top Performers – UCL Quarterfinals Return Leg

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Juventus disappeared in the second half and got played off the park by the hipster Ajax, once again ending the European campaign in bitter fashion.

Wojciech Szczesny: he kept the Bianconeri from drowning even earlier after intermission with two stunning saves, firstly on a one-on-one with Hakim Ziyech, where he stayed up until the very last possible moment and perfectly stabbed his arm out, then a great dive to pull a Donny Van De Beek curled shot out of the top drawer. An outstanding bulwark, but ultimately the goalie can do only so much when the opponents create so many chances and the two goals where a bit random and uncatchable. It is hard not to get bamboozled from Ajax’s quick passing game in narrow spaces and while the back-line obviously struggled as a whole, no defenders had blatant mistakes and mostly paid the price for the squad being unable to control the ball and the rhythm. They got run over by a much more energetic side. Continue reading