Juventus will face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League round of 16

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Despite grabbing the top spot in the group, the Nyon draw was not kind to Juventus and it paired Juve with the fiery Atletico Madrid for the round of 16 of the Champions League. The first leg will be played in the Spanish Capital on February 20th, the second one in Turin on March 12th. The two teams played together just twice in their history, but the matches are recent and date back to the group stage of the 2014 edition: the Colchoneros won one-nothing at home and then the two sides shared the spoils in a nil-nil draw at the Juventus Stadium. Both teams advanced. Continue reading

A look at Barca’s possible UCL opponents

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Lionel Messi issued a clarion call at the very beginning of the season where the Champions League was concerned.

That was the priority for Barcelona. No messing about, a stated aim to take home the trophy once again.

Drawn in the ‘group of death,’ the Blaugrana sailed through it, but now the real business begins.

Barcelona have six possible opponents they could draw in the Round of 16… Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Champions League – Round 6

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A weird game by Juventus in Bern, where they appeared in control for the first portion of the game but then completely lost the plot after the opponents went up in the score. The late push did not salvage a draw, but the loss this time was painless thanks to Valencia and their win over Manchester United. Here are the top performers of a cold Swisse night.

Daniele Rugani: not a great performance by the back-line, which was in a nice groove recently, as it looked like the squad underestimated the intensity of Young Boys, which still very much desired to get a positive result in front of their crowd despite being already eliminated. Continue reading

Manchester United unconvincingly reach the Champions League knockout stages

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For big clubs in Europe, it’s a must to be dominant and ruthless in the Champions League and importantly to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition. Manchester United completed the second half of that requirement by beating Young Boys on Tuesday to guarantee at least second place in Group B. However, their campaign in Europe has been unconvincing yet fruitful due to individual brilliance and lucky moments.

If not for Marouane Fellaini’s late winner at Old Trafford, the Red Devils would have formed an embarrassing record of going through three Champions League home games without a goal, a statistic that would reflect back on the poor job that Jose Mourinho is currently doing. However, he was once again saved by a player that has come up with a number of crucial goals in recent years.

On the other hand, if Young Boys had one clinical and dangerous striker that was in full confidence, they would have certainly punished a United defence that was playing a very high line whilst they were in possession of the ball. Not only that, but the home side’s full-backs fortunately escaped early bookings in the match which could have led to worse situations as the match went on.

Looking at United’s Champions League campaign so far this season with one group match remaining, there simply has not been enough evidence or memorable performances/results that makes a person feel or think the side can progress far in the competition. Many will simply believe that the victory over Young Boys to secure qualification will paper over all the cracks.

With no disrespect to the Swiss side, but a manager and a club that has spent just over £400 million in the transfer window over the last couple of years, and are relying on a last-minute winner at home really sums up the rather disappointing direction which the club is heading. From the lack of business planning off the pitch to the abysmal and boring football on it, a number of changes are required in order for Manchester United Football Club to be regarded as a serious football team once again.

As the side’s odds of winning the Premier League have been written off in the early stages of the season, it would not be a surprise to see the board and Ed Woodward hold on to Mourinho as the club’s manager until their chances of featuring in next year’s Champions League goes away. The hierarchy will have to make a crucial footballing decision in the coming months if things don’t go down as planned, in order to make sure they don’t fall behind from the other big European clubs.

Overall, given the club’s inconsistent and poor form in the league, Mourinho’s United will have to give their all in the Champions League this season in order to take part in the competition next campaign. With the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester City being regarded as the favourites to lift the trophy, the Red Devils, realistically, have no chance of winning it.

Juventus Top Performers – Champions League – Round 5

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Mission accomplished for Juventus against Valencia, as the win clinched the qualification to the knock-out stage. However, Manchester United again spoiled the Bianconeri plans late, so they will have to garner some points in Bern too to secure the first spot. Here are the best player for each area.

Wojciech Szczesny: one of the greatest virtues of Gianluigi Buffon was the ability to make miraculous saves despite being challenged very little during the game. Sometimes for a goalie it is easier to perform well when he is under heavy pressure and asked to intervene multiple times, since you get in the zone in those situations. Continue reading

Allegri and Cancelo introduce Juventus vs Valencia

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Coach Massimiliano Allegri and Joao Cancelo, an ex-Valencia player, spoke to the press yesterday ahead of the Champions League bout. The defender took the floor first: “I think that the game against Manchester was a little weird. We create multiple chances, we played better than they did and we deserved to win. However, football is unfair at times and we lost. Valencia is a great team and playing in this kind of matches is always special, particularly for me since I spent three years there. I will have to put that aside because I am representing Juventus now. We need three points and that is what we will try to achieve.” Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Champions League – Round 4

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Juventus somehow found a way to lose the first game of the season against Manchester United on Wednesday, making a mess in the final minutes after pulling the strings for the majority of the match. A result that delays the qualification to the next phase and puts the top spot in the group in jeopardy. Here are the best performers for each position.

Mattia De Sciglio: third start in a row for the Italian fullback, who is gaining confidence game after game and is also shaking off some of his usual shyness in attacking, because he had a couple of interesting sorties in this one. Continue reading

Bonucci and Allegri introduce Juventus vs Manchester United

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Leonardo Bonucci and Massimiliano Allegri spoke yesterday evening to preview the game against Manchester United. The defender took the floor first: “It will be an important week for me and for Juventus. We can clinch the qualification with a win and that would mean reaching our first seasonal goal. After this game, we and I will think about the Milan match, another must-win one. It will be obviously be exciting to return to San Siro, but we are focused solely on Manchester now.”

On José Mourinho’s praise: “His compliments are obviously nice because they come from a great coach. What we achieved over the last few years is the result of the sacrifice and the work of everybody. Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Champions League – Game 3

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Juventus have one foot in the elimination stage after an impressive showing at Old Trafford, where they dominated in the first half, opened the score with Paulo Dybala, and, despite not doubling the lead, managed the game nicely, limiting the opponents to just one clear scoring chance. Here are the best performers for each position.

Leonardo Bonucci (6 points): a great game for both centre-backs, who were tasked with the arduous job of handling the muscular Romelu Lukaku. Giorgio Chiellini is always at his best in this kind of match-ups where he can go to war with the enemy, while Bonucci has a cleaner and more elegant style. Continue reading

Ronaldo and Allegri preview Manchester United vs Juventus

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Massimiliano Allegri and Cristiano Ronaldo talked to the press ahead of the clash with Manchester United and the Portugal ace held his first conference since his introductory one. The striker started by answering to a question about whether he feels he is the victim of conspiracy because he was snubbed in the recent awards: “I am not obsessed with those, I just have to focus on the last two months with Juventus, which have been great, everything went smoothly and the team is fantastic. The awards help, but they do not tell the whole story. I won enough trophies already.”  Continue reading