Juventus Top Performers – Coppa Italia semis vs Milan

Juventus showed modest improvement compared to their last two road showings and managed to obtain a positive result out the San Siro clash with Milan despite letting the opponents have their way for the majority of the game.

Gianluigi Buffon: the back-line for the most part did an okay job in holding in check the opponents, which did not manifactured many clear-cut chances despite having the lion’s share of possession, then the veteran goalie stepped up when he needed to, with a pair of strong saves, in particular on an Ante Rebic’s effort under the bar in the first half and then coming out on the Croatian attacker after intermission. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 24

Wojciech Szczesny: with the top two defences (Inter and Lazio) facing off against each other, it makes sense to look at the next in line and the Bianconeri, who have been way better at home, have a plum match with Brescia coming up.

Alessio Romagnoli: trusting the Milan back-line has been an hit-and-miss affair, although they have given up only an acceptable 13 goals at home and they will host the reeling Torino, which have scored just twice in the past four matches and looked just a tiny bit better in the first game under the new coach. Continue reading

Buffon lauds UCL performances and expresses optimism for future

Fresh off a momentous appearance that made him the second oldest player to ever feature in a Champions League game, Gianluigi Buffon talked about Juventus and the duel with Inter in Serie A (Inter was eliminated in Europe) to Tuttosport: “It does not change all that much for us, if we are able to have the mind-set and humility we showed in Leverusen. If instead we are complacent and superficial in easier matches, starting with myself, then we are at risk. We had to provide some answers in that match, as a group, to see if we really wanted to achieve certain goals. In order to get to those, you need quality and experience, but also a tight squad that is able to suffer in some moments of the game.” Continue reading

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

Pjanic delighted for personal and team’s form

Miralem Pjanic discussed the state of the team and his stellar moment in a Sunday’s interview with Sky Sport: “I feel great, I had a strong start. I am confident and in my prime. The team is playing well and I am having fun. The goals are surely nice, but what matters the most is to be in first position in the Champions League group and in the league. We have to maintain that during the upcoming stretch of matches and maybe increase the gap.” Continue reading

Buffon weighs in on new reduced role, Inter and Sarri

Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon was chosen as new Goodwill Ambassador by the World Food Programme today and commented on that and on few football-related matters to Tuttomercatoweb: “It represents a growth on my part, which is inevitable since I will turn 42 in January, I matured a bit. As it is natural, I like to take on new challenges. Altruism will play the biggest part in this adventure and I am sure it will be an exciting one.”

“I am completely focused on the pitch for now because I have some responsibilities, as always, even though I am no longer the main protagonist every week. Whether you play or now, my role requires total dedication and it gratifies me because it not a secondary one.” Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Round Four vs Verona

Juventus got tested beyond expectations by a very aggressive Verona, but slowly figured it out and managed to come out on top to nab the third win of the season.

Gianluigi Buffon: he was spared on the penalty, but then Miguel Veloso scored anyway moments later with a scorcher. The Portuguese midfielder challenged him over and over again in the second half with his sharp free kicks, but he did not cave and pulled off one of his signature saves on Darko Lazovic late to preserve the tie. As for the rest of the defence, Danilo and Alex Sandro were passable, but containing the widest players of the opponents is starting to become a recurrent issue. They both covered a lot of ground though and thwarted few chances with quick runs. Merih Demiral was too exuberant to open the match and caused an avoidable penalty, but his explosiveness was actually very useful on few reads and clearances in the box.  Continue reading

Szczesny underlines importance of Napoli game and praises Sarri

Wojciech Szczesny addressed the Napoli clash in an interview with Sky Sport: “We have to face them twice and it does not matter where it falls on the schedule, it is a must-win game. Napoli bothered us in the last couple of years, we are looking forward to the match.”

On Maurizio Sarri: “His Napoli played well, now I can see that you have to work a lot under him and everything is pretty draining. I have been impressed by his impact on the squad. We practice a lot more with the ball, we also defend differently, with a high offside trap in order to press better. He insists a lot on the tactic. We had a lot of fun in the pre-season.” Continue reading

Sarri analyzes the Inter friendly

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Juventus beat Inter on penalties on Wednesday, with Matthijs De Ligt scoring an own goal and Cristiano Ronaldo finding the net on a free kick with the help of a deflection. Gianluigi Buffon then denied three opponents in the shout-out. Here is how Maurizio Sarri commented: “De Ligt was part of the portion of the game where we played worst and he has no responsibility in that, while Cristiano Ronaldo had the usual high-quality performance. I sense that we can improve a lot in the offensive plays, especially velocity-wise, which would enhance him even further.”

On the progress compared to the Tottenham outing: “All things considered, we had a similar display, since we had a subpar rhythm in the first half, where we struggled to defend with a high center of gravity and we tracked back. Continue reading

Mauro Icardi to Juventus: The Pros and the Cons

Recently it’s been reported that Juventus are heavily interested in Inter forward Mauro Icardi and will turn their attention to the Argentine forward after wrapping up their deal for Matthijs de Ligt. The 26-year-old has fallen out with the nerrazzurri, and is no longer in Antonio Conte’s plans for the upcoming season.

Inter sporting director Giuseppe Marotta recently went as far as proclaiming this in the media. In an interview, Marotta said: “When building a project, you have to find the right profiles. Both players (Icardi and Nainggolan) know full well they are not part of our plans.” 

While these comments may drop the striker’s valuation, it indicates one thing: Inter are prioritizing the squad over individuals. However, these claims do open up an avenue for a bargain for Juventus; but is Icardi worth it?

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On one hand, Icardi is one of the most lethal strikers in the world and can hurt the opposition with limited touches. Much like Cristiano Ronaldo, the Argentine doesn’t need many opportunities to score, and is proven at the European level as well. In this sense, pairing him with Ronaldo could prove to be a masterstroke, especially with Paulo Dybala pulling the strings behind them.

If Sarri plans on alternating between a 4-3-3 and 4-3-1-2, two formations he’s used throughout his managerial career, the move for Icardi makes plenty of sense. However, if the former Chelsea tactician plans on going with one striker, Icardi’s arrival will undoubtedly stunt the growth of Moise Kean; something Juventus can ill afford. Kean is one of the peninsula’s most highly-rated forwards and the bianconeri will be looking to make him a centrepiece of the side for years to come.

In a two-striker formation, however, there will be plenty of time to go around for Ronaldo, Icardi and Kean. Meanwhile, Dybala, Federico Bernardeschi and Aaron Ramsey are all capable of playing behind them as the side’s trequartista. As a whole, that’s an elite front-line, which unlike this past season, compliments each other.

On the other side of the debate, Icardi has typically been a negative locker room influence, and resorts to off-field antics when things don’t go his way. When he was stripped of the Inter captaincy, the Argentine sidelined himself with many dubious injuries and refused to train. Then, of course, there’s his agent and wife, Wanda Nara. Nara’s influence on Icardi over the years has only grown and she has shown no regard for Inter this past season.

Much like Icardi, Nara is quick to voice her discontent in public and often plays games on social media. The main fear is that this divisive duo may disrupt the harmony in Juventus’ locker room. With that being said, Icardi has never been part of a team with real leaders, and in Torino, he will have to answer to Gianluigi Buffon, Cristiano Ronaldo and Giorgio Chiellini among others. Rather than being tasked with leading the team like he was at Inter, Icardi’s sole focus will be on scoring goals.

The move to Juventus will also represent much more for Icardi. As Inter’s fiercest rivals, the former Sampdoria man will be joining the bianconeri with a point to prove. It’s not every day that one of the best strikers in the world is outcasted from a new coach’s plans. This chip on his shoulder will undoubtedly spur him to new heights and let’s not forget, Juventus have a decent track record with difficult characters. See: Carlos Tevez.

While Icardi has zero goals in open play in 2019, a red flag of its own, a lot of his poor form can be attributed to the fallout between him and Inter. Once he makes the switch, expect to see an eager and refreshed Icardi.

In terms of price, Inter are reportedly looking for 70 million euros for their star striker. However, due to Marotta’s recent comments, Juventus are confident they can close the deal for much less. If reports are to be believed, the Italian champions will soon table a bid in and around the 40-45 million euro range, and will look to close the deal closer to that mark than Inter’s valuation.

Considering the situation and Icardi’s willingness to join Juventus, the bianconeri would be foolish not to make a move. The Argentine is available cheaply, and is an elite number nine that could propel them to the next level. When presented with this type of opportunity on the mercato, you take it. Ronaldo has shown no signs of slowing down, but he won’t be able to lead the Juventus front-line forever either while the 26-year-old is frankly in his prime. Icardi’s arrival, in this sense, works both in the long-run and in the short-term. There’s a reason these rumours have emerged as much more than pure conjuncture. With the ball firmly in their court, Juventus are a few sales away from making Icardi to Juve a reality.

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