Juventus Top Perfomers – UCL Round Three vs Lokomotiv Moscow

Almost one of those nights for Juventus against an extremely diligent Lokomotiv Moscow, but two flashes in the dark by Paulo Dybala allowed them to down the adversary, paving the way for a serene continuation in the Champions League group stage.

Alex Sandro: conceding in this one was inexcusable considering that the Russian side barely attacked. The Brazilian fullback was the only one not to take part on the collective mistake that led to the goal, where Matthijs De Ligt was beaten in the air and especially Leonardo Bonucci was too soft. Continue reading

Sarri provides injury updates and more ahead of Bologna game

Maurizio Sarri was back in front of the press today to discuss few topics ahead of the Bologna game. He started off by assessing the form of Douglas Costa and the other injured players: “I do not know where the news about his return came from because he has always been practicing on his own so far. The question about the scheme will be relevant at a later time. Danilo, Aaron Ramsey and Mattia De Sciglio all re-joined the group in the last few days.” 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

Big Week Ahead For Sarri and Juventus

With Juventus set to take on Bayer Leverkusen and Inter this week, it’s the bianconeri’s first real tests of the season since the Napoli clash. In recent weeks, the Italian champions have impressed and have begun showing positive signs that Sarriball is well and truly on its way.

However, Hellas Verona, Brescia and SPAL aren’t exactly the fiercest of challengers and will likely all be near the relegation zone come the season’s end. As a result, the following week will act as the all-important litmus test: Are Juventus real Champions League contenders under Maurizio Sarri and can they keep their Serie A crown?

After going with the 4-3-3 for the early goings of the Serie A season, Sarri went back to his roots and has deployed the more narrow 4-3-1-2 over Juventus’ last three games. This is a formation that the former Chelsea boss used throughout his time with Empoli with great success. In the absence of Douglas Costa, the bianconeri lack wide players capable of beating their men in the final third. While Juan Cuadrado has been a pleasant surprise since returning to the fold, Federico Bernardeschi has disappointed.

The former Fiorentina man frankly lacks the pace to be an out-and-out winger and has looked poor in the early stages of this season. Sarri has even claimed in a recent press conference that Bernardeschi’s future is arguably from a deeper, more central role in midfield as a mezz’ala. 

The formation change has also coincided with Paulo Dybala’s return to form. Since switching to the ‘Christmas Tree’ formation, the former Palermo man has played an integral role in the buildup and has looked incredibly dangerous between the lines. Linking up with either Cristiano Ronaldo or Gonzalo Higuain, la Joya is not far off his brilliant best.

Outside of Dybala’s return to form, this formation also suits new arrival Aaron Ramsey. Playing in an advanced role, the Welsh international is able to infiltrate the opposition’s defence with late runs into the box. Since returning from injury, Ramsey has been in sensational form and is establishing himself as a key piece to Sarriball.

Equally capable of running behind the defence as he is playing neat touches in tight spaces, Ramsey is the missing piece in Juventus’ eleven. With Miralem Pjanic, Adrien Rabiot and Sami Khedira behind him, the Turin-based giants are now capable of fielding a blend of skill and tenacity in the middle of the park.

Defensively, Juventus are showing improvements, as Matthijs de Ligt is growing every week alongside Leonardo Bonucci. While their fullback crisis is worrying, Alex Sandro has had a phenomenal start to the season and will look to continue that this week.

With Leverkusen and a top-of-the-table clash against Inter on the horizon, Juventus are going to need to continue familiarizing themselves with their new formation and manager’s playing philosophy. As their performances keep improving, it’s clear Sarriball is well on its way. With Juventus’ new arrivals blending in nicely with Ronaldo and co. it’s only a matter of time before free-flowing football is the norm in Turin.

Pick your stars and compete with other Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-champions-league.com

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

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round Five

Alex Meret: he got the day off during the weekend, so he will be back between sticks in his one as Napoli will host Cagliari, which might be satisfied with the two wins they got recently and therefore not push the opponents too much.Giovanni Di Lorenzo is in the same situation.

Stefan De Vrij: it is not great round for the top defences, so it could be a wise move to pick out the best one, as Inter have conceded just once, even though they have a difficult match-up against Lazio on the docket. He is an ex-Biancoceleste, so you never know. Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – UCL Game One vs Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid’s next-level prowess on set pieces denied Juventus of a deserved W, but still plenty of encouraging signs out of this year’s continental debut.

Leonardo Bonucci: the defence got got in two particular situations where not everybody was in the right position and surely the flaws there have been recurring and need to be fixed. On open play, instead, the rear-guard held up well, allowing a scarce amount of chances and no clear-cut ones. Bonucci has taken on more responsibilities since Giorgio Chiellini went down, he has clean up his mistakes and showed great leadership. On top of that, he initiated the first goal with a genius long pass. Continue reading

Bernardeschi downplays slow start and Cuadrado looking for extension

Federico Bernardeschi shrugged off his lack of playing time to open the season in yesterday’s interview with Rai Sport: “It is a problem, but it is part of the game. I always work in order to be ready. We know that Juventus have grown into one of the top three clubs in the world, so there is a lot of competitions. We have few champions and some players that are as strong as I am, so the coach fields whomever he sees better during the week. It is a normal thing that always happens in the best teams, where several quality footballers are left on the bench.” He featured for just eight minutes in the opener against Parma, while he did not enter the Napoli clash. Continue reading

Deschamps staying with France, Chiellini, Cuadrado and Spinazzola speak

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Didier Deschamps was one of the candidates for the Juventus job, but he confirmed his commitment to the French national team in a presser yesterday: “The situation is clear, my spirit and my energies are focused on qualifying to the next European Championship, even though I am glad my name is brought up in big clubs’ coaching searches. However, my future is decided and tied to France.”

Giorgio Chiellini, Juan Cuadrado and Leonardo Spinazzola attended an event organized by the Insuperabili charity yesterday. The captain weighed in on Massimiliano Allegri’s exit: “We concluded a cycle and we have to thank him, then Juventus will go on as always. Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Round 37

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In the Atalanta game, Juventus managed to defend home court with the help of a strong second half and a futuristic line-up, closing the season undefeated at the Stadium.

Wojciech Szczesny: the defense was subpar, which has been the case since the title was clinched, especially on set pieces, which is were Josip Ilicic punished the Old Lady. The goals could have been more if the Polish goalkeeper did not have few great saves: on Remo Freuler and Duvan Zapata’s attempts in the first half and on wicked free kick by the Slovenian attacker in the second half. Andrea Barzagli struggled to keep up with the Colombian striker, but far younger centre-backs have done the same this year and obviously it does not take anything away from his terrific services over the year. Alex Sandro had a rough day at the office and had to be taken out to avoid a red card, as he was too foul prone. Joao Cancelo benefitted from the squad’s offensive mentality and brought his crossing and playmaking to the table. Continue reading