Juventus injury update, milestone goal, memorabilia and Cancelo’s value

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Juventus’ defence, which has been the healthiest department so far, is suddenly short-handed as Medhi Benatia is dealing with some knee soreness, which will sideline him for the Young Boys contest and will likely require further exams. Andrea Barzagli recently suffered a quad strain and he is not expected to return before the end of the calendar year. After missing two and a half games with a thigh pull, Alex Sandro should be able to contribute, either on Wednesday or on Saturday, while Sami Khedira’s ankle still has not healed.

The Bianconeri will be looking to clinch the top spot of the group in Bern, which would allow them to avoid some dangerous teams in the first round of the knock-out stage. The next goal will be a milestone achievement, as it will be the 5000th scored in the history of the club. Continue reading

Ronaldo talks Juventus, Messi & the Ballon d’Or

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Cristiano Ronaldo gave an attention-grabbing interview to Gazzetta dello Sport: “I am happy to be here, the city is very pretty, the fans are nice and Juventus is a fantastic club with an extraordinary organization. The players are humble and work hard. The first impression has been wonderful.”

On the squad: “This is the best group I have played in, we are a team. In other clubs, some players felt like they were bigger than the teammates, while that is not the case here. They are aligned and they want to win. Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic are happy even if they do not score. I noticed the difference. Compared to Real Madrid, this is more like a family.” Continue reading

Supercoppa fully set, stock updates, financial outlook & Juventus Travel unveiled

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This week was full of interesting quotes and some of the off-the-field news were left out, so here is a rundown of what went down. The date, place and starting time for the Supercoppa Italiana has been set: Juventus vs Milan will be played in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, with kick-off a 8.30 pm local time, 6.30 pm in Italy and half an hour after noon on the East Coast.

On December 27, in the Milan Stock Exchange, Juventus will enter the FTSE-Mib index, which is the group of the 40 most capitalized companies, joining the other assets of the Agnelli family: FCA, Ferrari and Exor. Continue reading

Buffon returns on his farewell and Bernardeschi discusses being at Juventus

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Gianluigi Buffon participated to the TV show Tiki Taka and added some tidbits about his departure from Juventus, confirming it was a mutual decision: “I miss it, I do not want to say that it was my whole life, but it was certainly an important part of it. I lived it for 20 years, spending every ounce of sweat for the cause. However, there are moments when it is right look each other in the eyes, realize that it is time for something new and hug it out.”

“I understood it was over while talking amicably with the president, after such a long and stressful period, because being a Juventus player and captain wears you down even though it is an honor. Continue reading

Chiellini, Dybala, Paratici, Pjanic and Nedved speak at Gran Galà

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Monday was a day of awards, as the Ballon d’Or was handed to Luka Modric, with Cristiano Ronaldo finishing second and Mario Mandzukic 25th, and Serie A held its Gran Galà. Juventus triumphed as best team of last season, Massimiliano Allegri prevailed as best coach and four and a half Bianconeri got into the ideal XI: Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Miralem Pjanic and Paulo Dybala, while Joao Cancelo was recognized for what he did last year at Inter.

Several personalities spoke to the journalists during the event. Continue reading

Looking back to how Cristiano Ronaldo emerged as a centre-forward at Real Madrid

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On the 4th January of 2016, a new era began at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Zinedine Zidane was announced as the new manager of Real Madrid on a two-and-a-half-year deal. The departure of Rafa Benitez was simply inevitable, as his short and unconvincing time at the club had to come to an end.

At the time of the announcement, there were a lot of mixed thoughts on the decision made by Los Blancos, with the majority being filled with excitement as the Frenchman aimed to extend his legacy at the club by bringing in success as a manager. However, the rest of the footballing world felt the appointment was a huge risk, with Zidane lacking managerial experience and tactical knowledge.

During his time as the coach of Real Madrid, Zidane went on to one La Liga title, three Champions League trophies and one Spanish Super Cup as well as a number of individual awards. The European dominance along with winning the club’s 33rd league title in 2017 would not have been possible had the coach kept Cristiano Ronaldo on the left flank instead of moving him up top as a lone forward.

Focusing more on Ronaldo, he first started to acknowledge this new role under Benitez, when Karim Benzema was suffering from a few injury issues. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner faced a number of problems whilst playing in this position, with the main one being the side was not built around him, and Benitez’s defensive style of play did not work well with Real Madrid’s free-flowing system.

On the other hand, once Zidane was introduced into the managerial picture, Ronaldo became the perfect number nine in Europe due to his movement on and off the ball and his pure instincts. The best example to show that he adjusted to a new approach and style is the 3-0 victory over rivals Atletico Madrid in November 2016, when his hat-trick summed up his growth as a centre forward.

The 4-4-2 diamond formation got the best out of both strikers in Benzema and Ronaldo, with the former playing as the deep-lying forward who would combine with the midfielders, whilst the latter would remain in the final third of the pitch and come up with the goods for when his side needed him the most. Overall, the improvements became evident as the trophies started to come in.

Ronaldo’s transition from being a dazzling winger to a dominant and ruthless forward became much easier, when Portugal coach Fernando Santos started playing him up front alongside either Ricardo Quaresma or Luis Nani. Playing in the same role as well as a similar formation at both club and international level has allowed the Madeira-born star to adapt and thrive within this new change.

It’s definitely not easy to pick out an international game that proved Portugal were on top of their game and the opposition. Though, the most recent and memorable competitive fixture that comes to mind is the World Cup match between Portugal and Spain, where Ronaldo’s incredible hat-trick allowed his team to pick up a vital point early in the tournament as they went past the group stages.

Throughout the closely-watched game, Portugal were defensively sound and composed to a certain level whilst Ronaldo’s influence on the pitch gave Santos’ men some hope that they would get something out of this match. In the end, the test of patience pulled through as Portugal earned themselves an invaluable point and Ronaldo went on to steal the headlines for the next few days.

Overall, it is fair to say that two to three managers have helped Ronaldo to become the centre-forward he is today. Although he is playing as a left-winger for Juventus at this moment of time, the Italian side will be relying on his individual brilliance in strike as the Serie A and Champions League campaign goes on, especially given that they are aiming to complete the treble this season.

Allegri’s presser ahead of Juventus-SPAL

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Coach Massimiliano Allegri previewed tomorrow’s clash with SPAL earlier today and begun by addressing the Balloon d’Or rumours: “I do not know anything about that. Cristiano Ronaldo is practicing well and would deserve it for what he has done.”

On Paulo Dybala scoring with Argentina: “It is a nice step for him. He is constantly improving, he started off very well this year, both physically and mentally. He has to keep it going, but that also depends on his desire. He is at his best when he plays almost as midfield, between the lines, knitting the maneuver. He tracks back to help his teammates and then feeds Mario Mandzukic and Ronaldo, who work less in the build-up.” Continue reading

Dybala talks Higuain, Ronaldo and Mourinho

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Paulo Dybala talked to Sky today ahead of the Milan clash: “I think both teams arrive at it well, since they are doing fine in their competitions. It will certainly be a great game like every previous editions and we obviously hope to bring home the three points.”

On Gonzalo Higuain: “We talked a couple of days ago and it is certainly a weird feeling. I had already faced him before and then we teamed up, winning some trophies together. It will be odd, but obviously everybody will give his best for his team. I did not ask him about his injury. Douglas Costa and I sent him a video and we are waiting for his answer.” Continue reading

New Season, Same Old Juve

With Cristiano Ronaldo joining Juventus this past summer after back to back Champions League triumphs in Madrid, many thought the bianconeri were about to turn a corner in Europe and finally put their past woes behind them. After all, they just signed Mr. Champions League himself in the form of Ronaldo. After failing at the final hurdle against both Barcelona and Real Madrid in recent years, it was clear Juventus were lacking something, and it was evident it wasn’t a player but more so, a winning mentality in Europe.

While it’s strange in itself to criticize Juventus’ winning mentality, seeing as they’ve won the domestic title seven years running and winning is quite literally in the club’s mantra, the Serie A giants are a completely different team in Europe and approach games with more pragmatism.

Rather than setting out to dominate the opposition from the get like they do in Italy, Juventus are patient and tend to rely on their rearguard to provide the backbone for their success. In the past, this is a strategy that has largely worked but when it comes time to make the final leap, they typically fall painfully short. Just yesterday, it costed the side and they squandered a 1-0 lead to Manchester United and ended up losing in the dying embers of the game. After the game, Ronaldo spoke about this issue.

“We dominated the game and had so many chances. We relaxed and we were punished, in this case we just gifted it to them,” said the Portuguese superstar.

Considering the landscape of the modern game, it cames as no surprise that high-flying offences have been the recipe for success in Europe while defences, on the other hand, are but a bonus. Last season, Liverpool made it all the way to the final with a back four of Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, Dejan Lovren and Trent Alexander-Arnold. While there are some good pieces in that backline – namely the first two – it is hardly world class and just goes to show you that Juventus may be overvaluing caution.

Continue reading

Is Manchester United’s victory over Juventus the best since Sir Alex Ferguson retired?

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By all accounts Manchester United were going to leave Italy with a loss which would have put their Champions League qualification hopes on ice. There was just two minutes left in Turin against the mighty Juventus, unbeaten this season and 1-0 up through a Cristiano Ronaldo goal. And then it happened, shades of that infamous 1999 Champions League final.

First it was Juan Mata’s superb freekick that levelled the match up. That was enough on the 88th minute to say let’s go back with a point and no defeat. But United were not done yet and in injury time got the winner through a Leonardo Bonucci own goal. The Juventus fans went silent and at the final whistle Jose Mourinho could not help but to cup his ears and try to silence the fans after the boos he had endured during the match.

But what a turnaround for United and for Mourinho who has been under tremendous pressure since the beginning of the season. Surely that will be eased with victory in the own back yard of one of the tournament favourites. It was a massive win.

One must question if it was United’s best win since Sir Alex Ferguson retired from the club in 2013? Yes we can look at the Europa League final win against Ajax in 2017, but this match felt different. United were playing a superb team away from home they were not expected to win here given that they had just lost at home to Juventus in the reverse match a couple of weeks ago. This was supposed to be a formality, and let’s not forget Juventus hit the woodwork two times, so it really could have been.

But United hung in there and created chances of their own, this seemed like watching a team that had turned a corner, that had learned how to fight and Mourinho may well privately be thinking that this was his greatest win as a United manager, he should be.

United look certain to qualify from their group now and a win over Young Boys would confirm that if Juventus who now have to beat Valencia. Just how far have Mourinho’s team come? Well we won’t have to wait long as this weekend they will take on Manchester City in what should be another classic game of cat and mouse. The last time the teams played United came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in a stunning comeback. One has already been achieved this week, could another?