Juventus Top Performers – Round 21 vs Napoli

In a tough day for the whole sports world, Juventus put out their worst and most unexplainable performances of the season in Naples, started playing only when the horse had already bolted and failed to take advantage of the enemies’ stumbles earlier in the day.

Leonardo Bonucci: the back-line was decent for about 70 minutes and the first goal did not come from a mistake by the defenders, but rather from Lorenzo Insigne having too much freedom to shoot from outside the box and Wojciech Szcesny rejecting it too centrally, although the save was not that easy. In the second, instead, which turned out to be very meaningful, Insigne was left alone in the box on a rebound and Matthijs De Ligt slightly deflected the shot, rendering pretty useless a pretty good outing up to that point. So the spot goes to the captain, only because somebody has to get it. Continue reading

Sarri mum on lineup ahead of Coppa Italia clash

Maurizio Sarri kept his cards close to the vest regarding the XI in the presser ahead of the Coppa Italia tilt against Roma: “I expect a very difficult game, you just need to look at Roma’s results on the road to have proof of that. They conceded little and score as much as at home. They are a quality team. We would lose sight of reality if we thought we are not going to have some challenging moments against them.” Continue reading

Sarri not looking ahead before Parma match

Maurizio Sarri opened the presser ahead of the Parma game by remembering Juventus great Pietro Anastasi, who passed away on Friday: “He was a very important player for this club and for the national team. It feels right to me to pay homage to a great footballer and man. The 1968 European championship final is one of the first games I recall and he was starring there.”

On the trident: “I would rather have abundance issues than the opposite thing. We will see how they are feeling today. The most important aspect is to dominate while being balanced, without taking risks. Continue reading

Sarri previews the Coppa Italia match against Udinese

Coach Maurizio Sarri was back in front of the journalists to discuss the tomorrow’s Coppa Italia game against Udinese: “Matthijs De Ligt is coming back to peak form and the Roma match is a proof of that. Daniele Rugani is an important player and I hold him in high regard.”

“It is not easy to recover after a big game but we have to do that, we spent a lot physically and mentally on Sunday. We want to move forward, so we have to find the proper motivations and strength to recharge the batteries. Every competition we are in is an objective of ours.” 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

What should Manchester United be searching for in January?

With just under a month to go until the transfer window opens up for its mid-season appearance, Manchester United will be active in bringing in new faces to Old Trafford.

The season has, so far, not gone to plan, as they currently languish in 11th place, a point behind Crystal Palace and eight from fourth-place Chelsea. Hopes and aspirations of a Champions League position come May 2020 now appear far away with the season ticking on.

A priority position to strengthen for Ole Gunnar Solskjær will be his midfield, which looks feeble and weak when coming up against teams that have quick transitions. The absence of Paul Pogba since the end of September has not eased matters, but even so, the failure to replace both Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera has been detrimental.

Ideally, the Red Devils want and need a player like Leicester City’s James Maddison. But for all intents and purposes, the Foxes are not going to be easy negotiators, especially halfway through the season when they are in second and the possibility of top-tier European football is more than realistic.

All season, Man United have lacked a midfielder that can pick defences and thread cute passes in between the lines. Fred and Andreas Pereira having taken up the more advanced roles in midfield, but neither have had the success on a regular basis that is needed to threaten teams week in, week out.

There are a lack of world-class midfielders that would want to come to Old Trafford for anything but a pay cheque, and so the market that is accessible for the Red Devils becomes increasingly small.

Emre Can is a name that has been touted around the Premier League once more ahead of January due to his lack of minutes under Maurizio Sarri at Juventus, but there will, rightly, be some reservations over the German international’s potential arrival, mainly due to being a stop-gap filler as well as a player who has been registered with Liverpool.

It is known that Solskjær wants an experienced centre forward that can hold play up and be versatile in his positioning on the pitch. The Red Devils tried to secure a late deal for Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic but ran out of time in the end. Their interest remains in the Croatian, even if, like his team-mate Can, his minutes have been shelved.

Mandzukic would offer a more rounded approach to the club than Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, as well as giving them invaluable advice on and off the pitch. Mandzukic is an extremely hard-working individual that has thrived off the bigger moments: such as his performance for his country against England in the World Cup semi-final.

The centre forward has 18 months left on his contract, but the Bianconeri will do business on him for around £10 million. He might be 33-years-old, but the wealth of experience and positional flexibility he could bring would be a welcome sight.

A lot can change in football in the second half of the season, but one thing is for certain and that is Manchester United need reinforcements.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

Serie A Game of the Round – Juventus vs Sassuolo

Juventus’ first faux pas at home came at the hands of Sassuolo in a great match, which had the proper amount of fun and signifcance, with no disrepect to the fantastic Cagliari-Sampdoria thriller.

The Bianconeri came into the fixture having won four in a row, the most recent out thanks to a late surge against Atalanta, while the Emiliani were pipped at the post by Lazio last week and in general had showed improvements over the last four rounds.

Maurizio Sarri picked Gonzalo Higuain and Federico Bernardeschi over Paulo Dybala and Aaron Ramsey up front, with Cristiano Ronaldo made the XI for the second game in a row after knee injury. Continue reading

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