Ronaldo and Sarri talked ahead of Lokomotiv Moscow clash

Cristiano Ronaldo held a rare presser, a year later after his last one, joining Maurizio Sarri in the usual proceedings before the Champions League game against Lokomotiv Moscow: “I think we are playing better now, we have more confidence in ourselves, our style is different. We are more offensive and have more precise positions. My role is similar, maybe I have a little more freedom, I can go where I am most comfortable. I am happy because little by little we are moving towards where we want to be. We have a new coach and new players, but we changed in order to get better. We are doing that gradually.” Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Inter vs Juventus

The best game on paper going into the round turned out to be a riveting contest and therefore Inter-Juventus easily gets the nod this weekend.

The Beneamata had a perfect record prior to Sunday, while the Old Lady had dropped two points so far. Antonio Conte confirmed his standard lineup, with Romelu Lukaku returning after missing one with a quad problem. Maurizio Sarri picked Paulo Dybala up front and Federico Bernardeschi in the hole instead of the predicted Aaron Ramsey. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Seven

Standings implications: Juventus prevailed in the Derby d’Italia and now lead the table with a narrow maring over Inter. Atalanta continue to be on a warpath and trounced Lecce. There were few ties in this round as Napoli did not manage to bend Torino, Roma could not get past Cagliari and Lazio threw it away against Bologna. Fiorentina instead kept it rolling against Udinese. Milan returned to winning ways in a battle with Genoa on Saturday night, while Sampdoria hit rock-bottom against Verona. SPAL flattened Parma, garnering their second W of the season and thus leaving the two Genoa-based sides in the last two places of the standings.

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Sarri wants Juventus to play its football in San Siro

Maurizio Sarri talked to the press early on Saturday to set the stage for the Inter game and addressed right away the duel between Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala to get the start up front: “We will have to pick between the due. Once that is one, it is fair for the one that is excluded to feel angry, because he is doing well. We will see after today’s practice, it is part of the job. I do not have to worry about the reactions of the players. Some may have some media impact, but I consider them a positive aspect.” Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Seven

Genoa-Milan: both offenses have looked very anaemic in recent matches, as the coaches, who are well-known for their proactive mentality, seem to have struggled to convey their ideas to the players. The Griffon have failed to score in the past two matches. Christian Kouame has led them with three goals so far and has been the only consistent contributor, while Andrea Pinamonti has been struck out since week one and ceded minutes to Antonio Sanabria and Andrea Favilli, who have not fared much better. They have yet to find a midfielder that can do some damage in the final third: Lasse Schone is too far away from the goal, but his aim on free kick is getting better, Ivan Radovanovic is shooting a lot but without precision and, like Lukas Lerager, he is more of a substance player than a quality one. Riccardo Saponara has not cracked the XI with enough continuity to be a fantasy factor. There is some appeal on the flanks, where Paolo Ghiglione and Marko Pajac have been serviceable. Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – UCL Round Two vs Bayer Leverkusen

The second straight shut-out win for Juventus, which continued to up their game on the continental stage and tamed Bayer Leverkusen with relative ease.

Matthijs De Ligt: another match where the two centre-backs split votes and it is hard to tell them apart as they did not allow anything slip by them. The Dutch starlet is always just a tad flashier than his veteran teammate. The German team often lulled the game with a hypnotic ball possession but, after all, they were rather toothless and rarely attacked with any sort of dangerousness. Alex Sandro was a little better than his last couple of matches and could have easily had an assist, while Wojciech Szczesny barely had to break a sweat.   Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Six

Juventus-SPAL: the Bianconeri have not been very spectacular in the last two matches against minnows, but they got the job done with the contribution of few different players. Cristiano Ronaldo has shaken off his injury and will be back in this one, Paulo Dybala has outperformed Gonzalo Higuain in the last couple of outings, but the latter is usually closer to the goal. Aaron Ramsey has been pretty good and they could carry on with the tactics where he is heavily featured, but it remains to be seen whether he can play thrice in a row, otherwise Adrien Rabiot or Federico Bernardeschi could get the nod there and reap the benefits of a very offensive role. They have gotten goals from Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi, even though Sami Khedira is generally the midfielder who is most involved in the offense. Juan Cuadrado loses some steam because he is forced to play as right back for the time being. Continue reading

Higuain discusses his future

Gonzalo Higuain gave an interview to Fox Sports and, besides touching on few Argentina-related topics, he discusses his future, some Juventus matters and his projects beyond in his playing career: “Everything is fine, I will not leave, I want to stay for the two years I have left in my contract. I am very comfortable, I know my teammates and the staff, I have few friends here and I want to give my best in this season, always looking to improve. That is what I am trying to do.” Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 5

Brescia-Juventus: two questions loom large on the game, one for each side. Mario Balotelli is eligible to return after the suspension, but his conditioning might be a problem after skipping the summer preparation, so he might be initially be kept on the bench. Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out due to muscle fatigue and it is new situation under Maurizio Sarri; they also do not have Douglas Costa, so they lack a pure left-wing player. Federico Bernardeschi could certainly be adapted there, but he has struggled so far, so the coach might try new solutions, like for instance fielding Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain together. Whoever ends up starting up front will have to shoulder a bigger load sans Ronaldo. Continue reading

Sarri suggests Ronaldo might not play against Brescia

Maurizio Sarri assessed the form of some of his players, hinted that Cristiano Ronaldo might be spared and previewed the Brescia game in today’s presser ahead of the midweek round.

On the lineup choices: “I want to evaluate the physical data first, we want to avoid injuries. We need to have continuity, but other factors must be taken into consideration as well. We will evaluate the situation today, some might need to be rested. Cristiano Ronaldo had some fatigue in his thigh muscle yesterday and it is normal after playing this much.” Continue reading