Gianluigi Buffon touched on few topics in his TV appearance in the program Tiki Taka: “In the last few years, there is always some controversy if a top team does not win. Sometimes tying has to be accepted, we played a great game against Lecce. We accustomed everybody to strong results, so there is some chatter where we are not successful.” Continue reading
Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri was back in front of the journos for another pre-game presser ahead of Saturday’s game against Lecce: “We do not have many available players right now, we were in 19 plus three goalies the other day. We will make some changes compared to how they came off from the previous match.”
On Mattia De Sciglio: “He has been practicing with the group for two or three days. He has been out since late August and he needs some time to be competitive physically. He has healed clinically.” Continue reading
With Juventus taking on Hellas Verona tomorrow, it’s as good a time as any for Maurizio Sarri to rotate his eleven and give the bianconeri’s new arrivals some much-needed playing time.
As the Italian champions debuted with a tough schedule that saw them take on Napoli, Fiorentina and Atletico Madrid in succession, the former Chelsea tactician opted not to ruffle any feathers and stick with Juventus veterans such as Sami Khedira and Blaise Matuidi among others.
Now with Juventus taking on Hellas Verona, Brescia and SPAL in the coming weeks, Sarri would be wise to rest his starters and look to integrate the new signings. While Matuidi and Khedira haven’t had bad starts to the season by any stretch, they are limited and are currently holding back ‘Sarriball’ from being in full flow.
New arrivals Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot are far more suited to free-flowing football and will benefit from increased playing time in the coming games.
Uruguayan international Rodrigo Bentancur is also expected to feature and has looked impressive in brief cameos thus far. Outside of a revamped midfield, hard-nosed defender Merih Demiral is rumoured to start alongside Leonardo Bonucci.
The Turkish international has patiently waited in the wings and appears more than ready to seize the opportunity. With Giorgio Chiellini out for the foreseeable future, Demiral’s aggression is an asset this Juventus defence desperately craves – as highlighted by their most recent collapse against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
Reports also suggest that Gonzalo Higuain will make way out of the lineup for Paulo Dybala. After a summer linking la Joya away from the club, the former Palermo man opted to stay, rejecting a move to Manchester United. Now with Sarri looking to rotate, it’s time for Dybala to prove himself and demonstrate he has what it takes to play as an outright number nine in the former Napoli tactician’s system.
At Napoli, Dries Mertens played this role to perfection and has a similar skill-set to the Argentine. While the Belgian is arguably a better finisher than Dybala, there’s no reason the Juventus forward can’t get into similar positions as Mertens. While the 25-year-old will be eager to play in more important games, proving himself against Hellas Verona will be a good start after an indifferent season under Allegri. Factor in Higuain’s good form, and it’s clear Dybala has to have a good performance against the newly-promoted side to keep up with his compatriot.
As the season unfolds and Juventus get more comfortable with their new boss, expect to see more and more signs of Sarriball in Turin. Introducing the likes of Dybala, Rabiot and Ramsey – players who are more technical than their direct competitors in their position – will only help in this respect.
As a result, the following weeks are of paramount importance to Sarri and co. Not for the table, but for his playing philosophy. If Juventus wish to play free-flowing football in their coach’s image, the time to buy in is now. On Sarri’s end, it’s time to use Juventus’ deep roster and look for alternatives to the current starters. Starting, of course, with the game against Hellas Verona.
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Blaise Matuidi denied he was close to returning to PSG in the summer: “It was all false. I have always said that I am fine at Juventus. I have been a PSG fan since I was kid and playing for them allowed me to fulfill a dream of mine. However, I am proud to play in one of best clubs in the world now.” The 32-year-old Frenchman has begun the season with an expiring contract after inking a two-year one last summer.
On the competition in the squad: “It stimulates me. Nobody gifts you anything in football, you have to earn your spot. If I am here it is because I have always been ready on the pitch.” Continue reading
Juventus CFO Fabio Paratici formally took Paulo Dybala out of the market for the first time: “I rule out his departure in a definitive way. His picture with Giorgio Chiellini demonstrates how tight this group is. The transfer market is not only made of planning, but also of opportunities and some unexpected events, like Giorgio Chiellini’s one. The ongoing games can lead to some trepidation but we are very serene. If there were any, we could take advantage of some bargains in the time left, otherwise we will stay as is.” Continue reading
Jesse Joronen (7 points): some imperfections for the newcomer, but also, and more importantly, two massive and decisive saves on menacing attempts by Joao Pedro and Artur Ionita late in the game that secured a surprising Brescia win in Cagliari.
Giorgio Chiellini (9 points): the grizzled veteran decided the Juventus’ season-opener in Parma with a sly deflection in a scrum on a botched shot by a teammate. Then the usual reliable work on the other end.
Rodrigo Becao (9 points): he could not have asked for a better Serie A debut as he often bounced Krzysztof Piatek off his tracks with his physicality and buried the game-winning goal with a tremendous header. Continue reading
Matthijs De Ligt talked to Dutch publication AD after last night’s game: “Naturally, I would have preferred to play. I did not get the clue during practice, so I did not expect to be benched, but I obviously respect the decision of the coach. I have to realistic, I am still adapting here in Italy. The two starters, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, have for long been considered the best duo in the world. I will have to fight for the job this season.”
On life in Italy: “I have enjoyed these first few weeks. It has been tough physically, but I have noticed that I am getting stronger. Defensively, the tasks are not much different from what I was used to at Ajax. Continue reading
As it has become tradition over the last few year, Juventus returned from Parma with three points despite not being overly impressive. The squad displayed some infant stages of Sarri-ball in the first half, where it created a bunch of chances, but looked completely devoid of energies in the final half an hour; however, the opponents did not pounce.
Giorgio Chiellini (9 points): a very positive performance by the veteran duo of centre-back, close to perfect if it was not for a pair of botched clearances late in the game. The captain, of course, had the merit of solving the game with a nifty touch in a scrum, but Leonardo Bonucci was very attentive too. Alex Sandro had not looked this energized in a long time and was present and precious in both phases. Continue reading
With some delay, Juventus unveiled Merih Demiral earlier today: “I am very happy to be here. I know this is a very important club and that is great for me. I hope to adapt as soon as possible to the new surroundings.”
On his unusual path: “I had to toil to arrive to this point, but it was not surprising to me, everything came from hard work. By being here, I fulfill my dream and I am trying to write a good ending to my journey. I left home when I was 18 to move to Portugal to play for a European team at a young age, I wanted to grow fast and achieve some objectives, like this one.” Continue reading
Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini weighed in before and after the exhibition game at Villar Perosa, heaping high praise on Matthijs De Ligt: “He is a very capable guy and certainly I am not the first one to notice that. He was the most coveted defender in Europe and the officials worked very well to get him. He can grow and do well in the next few years. We signed important players that increase the value of the team, but everything goes through sacrifices and daily work. This is our goal now, we finally start to get serious because we are fed up with just friendlies and training sessions. We are the only ones in Europe that start the season so late.” Continue reading