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 →
Massimiliano Allegri and Emre Can met the press ahead of the Ajax game yesterday evening: “Mario Mandzukic is out, I have to decide whom to pick to replace him: Paulo Dybala, Moise Kean or neither. It is clear that if one of them starts, I will not field Joao Cancelo and Mattia De Scigliotogether, which is a possibility. I will not make my pick until Wednesday morning.”
On the match: “The first leg does not count, we will have to respect Ajax when they will play in our half. We need to be alert, it will be a very long game, both sides will compete until the end. We will need the everybody’s contribution: the starters, the subs and the fans. It will be an important night that could allow us to reach an extraordinary result, it is even more important than the Atletico Madrid game. We will have to defend all together.” Continue reading →
Juventus: Blaise Matuidi subbed off against Ajax due to a calf problem, but the injury is not believed to be severe. Emre Can (ankle) and Giorgio Chiellini (calf) will sit Saturday’s game too but they are not distant from returning. Juan Cuadrado is back after knee surgery, while Douglas Costa suffered a new calf problem. Miralem Pjanic, Mario Mandzukic and Cristiano Ronaldo have not been called up for rest purposes.
Napoli:Simone Verdiwas scatched late for the previous match due to muscle fatigue, but he was called up for the London trip. Raul Albiol (knee) and Amadou Diawara will miss another one, but at least of them could be back next week.
Inter: Marcelo Brozovic suffered a pull of the semitendinosus muscle in the right pull and will miss the Frosinone game and perhaps one more after that. Lautaro Martinez and Stefan De Vrij are set to be called up after being sidelined by thigh ailments. Continue reading →
Few tilts were high-scoring and intense up until the final whistle in this round and Juventus-Milan was the most meaningful one out of the bunch. The Bianconeri came into the game looking to get closer or possibly clinch the title with an advantageous combination of results that would have to start with a win, while the Devil were seeking to rebound after three unsatisfactory results, as they had recently lost to Sampdoria and Inter and tied with Udinese.
Juventus-Milan: the Bianconeri are coming off a convincing outing in Cagliari, where they notched their second shutout win in a row and in general their seventh victory in the last eight fixtures. On the other hand, the Rossoneri failed to take home the full loot for three matches in a row as they lost to Inter and Sampdoria and then tied with Udinese. The Old Lady is likely to have back both Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala for this game, while Cristiano Ronaldo is slated to sit one more out. Some players could be spared in the Ajax game, in any case Moise Kean and Federico Bernardeschi are in terrific form and have lead them scoring-wise. Continue reading →
Juventus will quickly return on the pitch tomorrow and therefore Massimiliano Allegri talked to the press today: “Cristiano Ronaldo is working and we hope to have him back for the Ajax game, like Douglas Costa. We will know more about Sami Khedira on Wednesday, he might return against Milan. I think that Juan Cuadrado will be back in short order. Paulo Dybala will be evaluated later today, while Mario Mandzukic is under the weather and we will see whether he will be available. Mattia Perin will not travel with the team because he has a bruised shoulder. Leonardo Spinazzola has a knee problem, not on the surgically-repaired one, and will be out for 10/15 days. Andrea Barzagli should be at my disposal for the final games.” Continue reading →
Juventus-Empoli: the Bianconeri are coming off their first Serie A loss this season, against Genoa, while they dropped points just twice at home thus far. The Azzurri defeated Frosinone in Aurelio Andreazzoli’s return match, nabbing the second win in the last 13 rounds. They have lost in five of the last six away games. The Old Lady will be without Cristiano Ronaldo, who got hurt while playing with Portugal, and Douglas Costa, who remains sidelined. Therefore, Federico Bernardeschi, Moise Kean, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic will lead the charge and try to alleviate the absence of the Portuguese star. They could be helped by the fact that the Tuscans have one of the leakiest defenses in the League. Continue reading →
Emre Can talked about the win over Atletico Madrid and the Cristiano Ronaldocontroversy in an interview with Bild: “Tactically, I had never played in that position. We were constantly switching from a three-man to a four-man defense. It was a genius, chess player-like move by Massimiliano Allegri. He fully pulled off his plan. For the first time in the history of the club, we managed to come back after losing two-nothing in the first leg.”
“There was a lot of emotion in the locker room after the game, I had rarely experienced something like that. It is hard to understand from outside how much pressure we were under after the first match. Continue reading →
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 →
Standings implications: Juventus further extended their lead after pummeling Udinese as Napoli equalized in Sassuolo. Both Milan and Inter were successful against minnows in this round, the Rossoneri beat Chievo, the Beneamata did the same with SPAL, and therefore head into next week’s Derby separated by just one point, with the Devil on top. Roma sweated it out by bested Empoli and remain in pursuit. Atalanta recorded a big win in the Europa League race by besting Sampdoria on the road, but Torino staged a comeback in Frosinone and the two remain hand-in-hand, while Lazio lost some ground as they were held to a one-one tie in Florence. Waiting to see what Empoli will do, only Bologna took home the W in the rear: they stay in the 18th spot, but have closed a little the gap with Empoli, SPAL and Udinese.