Juventus’ coaching search rages on in Italy and the sporting director Fabio Paratici chimed in after receiving the Gentleman’s award: “We need to be patient, we are making our evaluations, but we have clear ideas in mind. I feel the pressure from the fans, but it is really a pleasure. I am a supporter first and then an executive. Players like Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli and Andrea Pirlo are heroes, they are the champions I was the most attached to. I think this accolade suits my club in every aspect, from the first team to the youth ones. I have had the massive fortune of working in a top club, where there are big possibilities and you get to work with great footballers.” Continue reading
Serie A giants are working on a deal to bring Atletico Madrid captain Diego Godin to Italy next season, with the Uruguayan’s contract set to expire in the Spanish capital this summer.
Godin, 32, was a transfer target for Manchester United in the summer of 2018, however he opted to remain in Spain – citing family reasons for his decision.
Media reports in both the UK and Spain have claimed that Godin is unhappy with the club’s delay in offering him a new contract, after eight and a half trophy laden years with Los Colchoneros.
Several personalities took part to the Golden Boy award yesterday and some Juventus-related topics were discussed on the stage. Jorge Mendes won as best agent and returned on the Cristiano Ronaldo transfer: “The credit goes to Juventus, to their president Andrea Agnelli and to who made that call. Cristiano said to me in January that he would have liked to play there, I thought it would have been impossible and I told him that it was very difficult. However, they did manage to pull it off. Our first meeting was with Pavel Nedved and Fabio Paratici before the clash with Real Madrid, then with the president. When I spoke with Agnelli I went from considering it impossible to deeming it probable and the president sealed it. The negotiation lasted for two or three months.”
Serie A side Roma are facing a definitive set of fixtures before the end of the year, following an inconsistent recent run of results.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s side have won just one of their last six league games, which has seen them slip down to 7th in the table.
They could only draw against Inter Milan last weekend, in a continuation of their inability to win against the other big names in Italy, with a defeat already this season against AC Milan and a draw against Napoli.
The early form of Genoa was one the biggest stories from Serie A in the opening weeks of the season, with Ivan Juric’s side a regular fixture in the top ten.
After the first seven games of the 2018-19 season, they were sitting in sixth, following wins over Empoli, Bologna, Chievo and Frosinone.
Much of this positivity was down to the goal scoring exploits of 23 year old striker Krzysztof Piatek, who netted 12 goals in first eight games in Italian football.
Signed from Cracovia in the summer, he took Serie A by storm in the opening two months of the campaign, earning a call up, and a goal on his competitive debut with the Polish national team.
Inter Milan failed to put any distance between themselves and Napoli, in the race for second in Serie A, with a disappointing 2-2 draw against Roma.
Neither Luciano Spalletti’s side nor Carlo Ancelotti’s are in a position to challenge Juventus at the moment, with the Turin club already 11 points clear after 14 games of the season played.
Napoli can close that eight points, if they win against Atlanta on Monday night, and in turn put three points between them and Inter as the campaign approaches its half way stage.
We are two months into the domestic league seasons and each league is starting to take shape around Europe. The usual suspects are either sitting on top of the league or ominously close to that. But who have been the best pound for pound teams so far in Europe? The teams that clearly do not have the same budget as the Manchester City’s and PSG’s. And perhaps the following teams will be able to keep up their good starts to the season and cause some surprises. Whilst they may not be crowned new champions of their respective leagues they will all have the ability to try and qualify for European football and possibly have deep runs in their respective cup competitions.
Premier League- Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wolves as they are commonly known were not supposed to cause much of a fuss in England this season and many expected them to finish in the bottom half of the table. However currently they are in 7th place and have 15 points from a possible 24. Coach Nuno Espirito Santo has been a revelation and has struck a fine balance between attack and defence. Wolves are the only club to take points from champions Manchester City so far and have also come away with a 1-1 draw at their rivals Manchester United. They have lost just 1 game all season so far and are only 5 points from the top of the league.
Ligue 1 – Lille
Lille have struggled in recent seasons so this is a real surprise to see the team in 2nd place and 3 points clear of Marseille in third position. Whilst they won’t be catching league leaders PSG anytime soon as they are 8 points adrift of them their aim will be Champions League qualification for next season. Lille have been superb and have recorded such results as beating Marseille 3-0. They have won 6 of their 9 games so far and are scoring goals too, they currently have 17 which is the 3rd highest in the league.
Serie A- Sampdoria
Sampdoria got off to a slow start in Serie A but their form has been constantly improving week by week. So much so that they find themselves in 5th place behind the more traditional teams who we are expected to see in the top four. Form is good where they have lost just 1 game in their past five matches and have only been defeated 2 times this season. But it has been the clubs away form that has impressed where they have the 3rd best record in the league.
La Liga- Sevilla
This choice is easy, Sevilla, because they have taken the Spanish league by storm and currently sit in 1st place above both Barcelona and Real Madrid. They have already comprehensively beaten Madrid in the league and have won 5 of their 8 games so far. They have won their last 4 games in the league and have scored 14 goals alone in those games. Indeed only Barcelona have scored more goals. It remains to be seen in such a difficult league if Sevilla can keep up their form but they are definitely added to the mix which is sure to make La Liga experience one of the most exciting seasons in years.
For any other player in world football barring Lionel Messi we would never have to pose the question of why they haven’t managed to score a goal in their opening 3 games for their new club? However alongside Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo is a different level player, one that scores goals whether he is playing for Manchester United or Real Madrid, and like Messi his rate of goals has been incredible. But Ronaldo and Juventus are waiting for the first one.
It’s not that Ronaldo isn’t trying or that age has caught up with him. He has had 23 shots on goal and been genuinely unlucky in some of the games, but still for a player that has scored 573 goals so far in his club career including 450 for Real Madrid it is odd and for some a little unsettling that he has drawn blanks.
Take Ronaldo’s most successful moments so far which have come with Real Madrid. In 9 seasons the least amount of goals Ronaldo scored was 33 which incredibly came in his debut season with the club and not as one would predict his last. He hasn’t petered out and that’s why Juventus were willing to pay so much money for him even at 33 years of age. Keeping with goals scored the most Ronaldo has converted in a season was in 2014-2015 where he netted an incredible 61 times in all competitions.
But why has Ronaldo got off to such a slow start given that he rarely has had blips in his career? Juventus’ manager Max Allegri gave his opinion after Ronaldo failed to score in Juventus’ 2-1 win away to Parma. “Serie A is a league where the teams defend carefully. I don’t want to say that it’s better than other leagues in Europe or not. Let’s just say that the teams are very strong in defence and the coaches are very good.”
It is clear that Allegri was being diplomatic in what he said, but he did touch on something about Italy and the rule of defence, which has always been the first rule. Even Diego Maradona only scored 15 goals one season at Napoli which was enough for him to be top goal scorer.
The good news at least, is that the Old Lady are not relying on their £88m man to convert the goals. They have won all three opening games and are in 1st place. Just how much better will they be when Ronaldo does start firing on all cylinders? The international break will be beneficial for him too as he will have time off international duty and should be refreshed from mid September when the league games resume alongside the Champions League. So yes it is odd that a player of Ronaldo’s calibre still hasn’t scored, but only a fool would write him off in Italy just yet.
While Juventus’ acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo almost certainly widens the gap with the rest of the league, we could see a shift in the balance of power right below the bianconeri- Roma is clearly trying to go younger after moving on from Francesco Totti and Radja Nainggolan in back to back years, and Sarri’s cycle at Napoli has also come to an end. On the flip side we could see Inter replace the partenopei as Juventus’ biggest challenger, and there are also reasons to be very optimistic at Milan.
While the transfer window could still bring some eleventh hour surprises, with a week to go before the Serie A season begins we can take a leap of faith and try to predict the best and worst case scenarios for the top Italian teams
Mercato Uncertainty: while it’s very unlikely they would accept an offer this late in the window, we could see Paris St Germain make a concrete offer for Alex Sandro and Real Madrid for Miralem Pjanic.
Best Case Scenario: Can brings the muscle and dynamism Juventus has lacked in the midfield since Vidal left, Bonucci’s passing ability helps make up for lack of creativity, Douglas Costa, Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo form Juventus’ best attack ever, Cancelo matches Dani Alves’ contributions in Turin.
Worst Case Scenario: the competition from Perin causes Szczesny to revert to his Arsenal form, Bonucci’s return causes more drama than a season of 90210 and ignites a fight in the locker room that at least lands Mandzukic the lead role in the new Taken sequel, Ronaldo’s star power is a marketing boom but causes Dybala and Douglas Costa to take a step back, Can struggles so much to adapt to Serie A that fans often confuse him with Khedira on the pitch.
Mercato Uncertainty: the partenopi are still looking for a veteran keeper to start until Meret returns from his injury. President De Laurentiis could try to make a last second big name addition in response to all the difficulties in the pre season.
Best Case Scenario: once he returns from injury Meret looks like version of Donnarumma we saw in Gigio’s first season in Serie A, Fabian Ruiz proves to be a brilliant replacement for Jorginho and a better fit for Ancelotti’s system, Zielinski starts living up to the De Bruyne comparisons, Verdi proves to be an excel wild card and brings depth to all the positions up front, Milik stays healthy and maintains his very impressive scoring average over the course of a season.
Worst Case Scenario: the goalkeeper situation is so dire Napoli tries to bring back Pepe Reina in January, Albiol’s age starts catching up to him, Ghoulam struggles to come back from his second knee injury, Hamsik’s decline progresses but continuous to start over Zielinski because of his iconic image, Sarri lasts longer at Chelsea than Ancelotti under the Vesuvius and proves to have been right when he assessed the cycle to be over.
Mercato Uncertainty: Monchi has still to reinvest some of the proceeds from the Alisson sale, the giallorossi have been linked to numerous midfielders as well as Suso.
Best Case Scenario: Olsen follows the Roma tradition from the previous two years and surprisingly establishes himself as an elite Serie A keeper, Karsdorp proves himself after staying healthy and allows Di Francesco to use Florenzi further up the pitch, Pastore strives in the mezzala role, Zaniolo becomes the headline player in the Nainggolan deal, one year later Schick lives up his price tag, Under and Kluivert compete to become the next Salah.
Worst Case Scenario: Olsen is a massive downgrade from Alisson, Fazio reverts to his Premier League form, Cristante proves to be Gasperini fools gold, Dzeko, Kolarov and De Rossi show their age so much that Di Francesco is on the hot seat by Christmas.
Mercato Uncertainty: while the nerazzurri haven’t given up on the Modric dream, they are expected to announce the deal for Keita Balde on Monday
Best Case Scenario: De Vrij, Miranda and Skriniar form the best defense in Serie A, Vrsaljko establishes himself as the best right back in Serie A, Dalbert improves so much in his second season in Serie A that Asamoah moves permanently to the midfield, Nainggolan is rejuvenated playing once again for Spalletti, Keita Balde and Perisic are so devastating that Icardi surprisingly outscores Ronaldo while Lautaro Martinez is to Gabigol what Bruce Willis was to Samuel L Jackson in “Unbrekable”.
Worst Case Scenario: De Vrij struggles with injuries and feels so guilty because of his last match for Lazio he turns into the Dutch Ranocchia, Brozovic and Nainggolan highlights of the season take place on Instagram.
Mercato Uncertainty: with the transfer window in Spain and France open for another few weeks, there’s still a chance Real Madrid or PSG make a big offer for Milinkovic Savic.
Best Case Scenario: Durmisi turns into this season’s version of Marusic and takes over for Lulic on the left wing, Badelj has same impact as Lucas Leiva last season, Correa strives playing under the Roman sun and both Immobile and Luis Alberto’s performances are consistently on last season’s level.
Worst Case Scenario: Acerbi proves to be a significant downgrade from De Vrij, Caceres can’t stay healthy, Parolo and Lucas Leiva lose their battle against father time, Immobile’s goal total decreases so much Lotito regrets not selling him.
Mercato Uncertainty: Leonardo is looking for an offensive winger with Castillejo at the top of his wish list, but is he a potential replacement for Suso?
Best Case Scenario: Donnarumma establishes himself as Buffon’s replacement on Azzurri, Conti and Caldara live up to their hype, Gattuso transmits his grinta to Bakayoko who returns to his Monaco form, Calhanoglu builds on his excellent second half, Higuain outscores in one season all of Milan’s recent number nines (Pato, Matri, Torres, Destro, Luiz Adriano, Lapadula, Andre Silva).
Worst Case Scenario: Gattuso fails to get the most out of his improved squad and the Conte rumors start by mid October, Caldara struggles to adapt to a 4 man defense after playing in Gasperini’s system, Biglia struggles so much that Leonardo gets torched on Twitter for selling Locatelli.
It is early August in Turin, and Juventus have enjoyed a successful transfer campaign. Perhaps, the most successful in their history as they landed Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the best player in the world. At the very least, he is considered top two.
The Serie A season is right around the corner, but Juventus are not concerned with that. They know that they would have been the favorites to win Serie A for the eighth consecutive year with or without Ronaldo. That was not the purpose of the move. Continue reading