Juventus and Ronaldo break new records

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Juventus improved some of their previous records and shattered some others by securing their eighth title in a row with a 2-1 win over Fiorentina on Saturday. They are the first Italian team to prevail for this many consecutive years, but they already held that since the closest domestic streaks stopped at five. However, it became the longest one in the top six European leagues, besting Lyon’s run in Ligue 1 that went on between 2002 and 2008. Bayern Munich’s top stretch finished with six, Real Madrid and Porto’s one at five, while there the historically stiff competition in Premier League limits the possibility to repeat, so the most productive team was Manchester United with three straight in two separate occasions.

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Inter must rise to the challenge of facing Juventus

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“We tried to win from the first minute, we had a couple of chances at 0-0. We pushed more in the second half and got the equaliser. A point is an alright result today looking at the other results, we need to keep it up. We create a lot in every match but we have to improve our finishing to finish with as many points as possible. It’s nice to score, especially at home but a goal is always a goal. We know Juventus, they’ve won a lot of titles and they’ll come here to win so we need to prepare well in the week and have the strength to win. We are Inter and we must always play to win because we are strong. First, we’ll think about Juventus and then about finishing the season in third.” Continue reading

Failure to beat Roma a missed opportunity for Inter

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“In terms of the result, nothing has changed. There is one less game to play but, at home, we should always try to win.” Those were the words of Luciano Spalletti during his post-match press conference in the aftermath of Inter’s 1-1 draw against Roma last night. The Giallorossi went ahead within the opening 15 minutes, before Ivan Perišić equalised midway through the second half. Indeed, the Nerazzurri were by far the superior side after the half-time interval and should ultimately have managed to clinch all three points. Continue reading

Borja Valero insists Inter dressing room has always been united

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Borja Valero spoke to the media in the immediate aftermath of last night’s 1-1 draw between Inter and Roma at San Siro. Here is what the veteran Nerazzurri midfielder said during an interview with Sky Sport: Continue reading

Spalletti satisfied by Inter’s second half performance against Roma

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Luciano Spalletti spoke to the media in the aftermath of last night’s 1-1 draw between Inter and Roma at San Siro. The Tuscan tactician was irritated by his side’s lack of control throughout the first half, but was encouraged by what he saw after the interval. He was also full of praise for veteran midfielder Borja Valero, who was excellent throughout the entire 90 minutes. Here is what he said during an interview with Sky Sport: Continue reading

Torino Hang Around and Enter Top Four Race

With much of the attention surrounding the top four race going to Milan, Roma, and Lazio, Walter Mazzarri’s plucky Torino side have flown under the radar, but are still in it with a chance. With just five games to go, I Granata are in seventh place, however, sit just three points back of fourth place Milan. Playing in Mazzarri’s patented 3-5-2 with veteran leadership spread evenly across the pitch, Torino have proven to be one of the harder sides to break down within the peninsula, and hurt the opposition on the break through Andrea Belotti, and Iago Falque.

Torino are undefeated in their last five clashes, and are currently in good form ahead of a crucial stage. Next week, Torino’s top four credentials will be put to the ultimate test when they take on Milan in a direct clash for European football. A win against the struggling rossoneri would put them on equal points awaiting other clashes, and would signal their Champions League intent to the rest of the pack.

While Champions League football is unlikely given that there are five teams vying for one spot, all sides in the top four race have displayed a propensity to shoot themselves in the foot at crucial points. Just this past weekend, Roma, Milan, and Lazio all dropped points in games they should have won. As a result, the likes of Atalanta and Torino have been able to stick around the top four, and have a legitimate chance going into the final match-days.

After taking on Milan, Torino will travel down the street to take on their fierce rivals Juventus at the Allianz Stadium. While the bianconeri have regularly bested Torino over the years, they have already clinched the Scudetto, and will already be thinking of their summer vacation. After his side’s triumph over Fiorentina, Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri admitted himself today that he will try new schemes in the remaining five games. With Juve experimenting, they will likely field a wealth of their youngsters and try to blood them through. This gives Torino a unique opportunity to use their experience, and claim,what would be, a crucial three points to their top four aspirations.

Following their clash with Juve, Torino then close the season against Sassuolo, Empoli, and Lazio. While the first two opponents should be straightforward, it’s their last clash that will determine their fate.

Right now, Torino are spreading responsibility in the final third wonderfully, and don’t simply rely on one player to see them through. In fact, there are seven players on their roster this season with at least three goals or more. This includes defenders, defensive midfielders, wingers and of course, their highly rated talisman Andrea Belotti. Factor in Salvatore Sirigu’s exploits, and it’s clear to see why Torino have been hard to beat this season.

With their side firing on all cylinders, Torino could just be this season’s surprise package in Serie A and snatch Champions League football under from everyone’s noses. Until now, they haven’t received many plaudits for their efforts, but expect that to change if they were to overcome Milan.

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Crucial Summer Ahead for Juventus

After wrapping up their eighth consecutive Scudetto following their 2-1 win over Fiorentina, Juventus will now focus their efforts on addressing the issues plaguing their roster. While the bianconeri added two trophies to their haul this season, they failed in Europe losing to a superior Ajax side over the two ties, and were sent packing in the Coppa Italia against Atalanta. Both defeats spoke volumes of this Juventus side and demonstrated just how fragile the Italian champions are when pressed. Here are three fundamental questions they must answer come summertime if they are to achieve European glory.

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1) Massimiliano Allegri: In or out? 

Since their collapse in Cardiff, Juventus have not been the same, and look a side devoid of an identity. This season much of the same problems persisted. The bianconeri strolled to the Scudetto, barely challenging themselves in the process as their competitors consistently shot themselves in the foot. Frankly, most Serie A tacticians would have won the title with this roster.

What’s more frustrating for Juve is that Allegri has completely failed at instilling a consistent style of play, and largely depends on individual brilliance to see him through. And when all else fails, the Italian champions typically bombard the box with crosses, and hope for Mandzukic or Ronaldo to come through. When opposing sides pressed the bianconeri high, and played without fear, by contrast, Juventus struggled to put three passes together.

When the board meets with Allegri to discuss the past season, they should replay the Ajax and Atalanta games. In both instances, Juventus cowered deep in fear, while the bolder team was rewarded for their self-confidence. If Juve are to win the Champions League, they need a fearless leader, and one thing’s for certain: Allegri is not that. It’s the end of the Allegri era, as we know it.

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2) Project Fix The Defence. 

Since Antonio Conte brought back Juve from consecutive seventh place finishes, the bianconeri’s defence was always their foundation and backbone for success. With Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini, Juventus possessed arguably the strongest backline in the world, and kept opponents at bay with ease.

However, with Barzagli nearing retirement and Bonucci looking like a shadow of his former self since his controversial return, Juventus’ defence has been a weak point for the side and has held the team back. Factor in Alex Sandro’s continued struggles, and it’s clear to see: Without Chiellini, Juventus are a mess at the back.

Considering Daniele Rugani’s stagnation, and Bonucci’s regular lapses in concentration, it’s time Juventus revamp their defence. First of all, they shouldn’t hesitate to sell Rugani and Alex Sandro as soon as a good offer arrives. The former has been a disaster when called upon, and shirks at the first sight of a physical battle. Alex Sandro, by contrast, has lost most of his pace, and offers close to nothing in the final third.

With Cristian Romero already on his way from Genoa, and Leonardo Spinazzola improving with every week, the state of Juventus’ defence remains decent. However, they will need at least two reinforcements: a centre-back and a left back.

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3) Project Fix the Midfield.

Much like the defence, Juventus’ midfield is in complete disarray, and lacks a true leader. Since dismantling their midfield in 2015 by selling Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba, the bianconeri are yet to bolster the midfield sufficiently. At the moment, only Miralem Pjanic and potentially Emre Can are worthy starters, while the others are solid bench options at best.

Even Pjanic and Can, who on their day are world beaters, struggle to impose themselves, and aren’t meant to lead the midfield as seen through the Ajax clashes. Despite Aaron Ramsey’s arrival, Juventus are still lacking one profile in their midfield. A ball-winner capable of maintaining possession. What they would do for a prime Claudio Marchisio again? But Juventus could settle for Lyon’s Tanguy N’Dombele.

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Juventus Top Performers – Round 33

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Juventus survived a lifeless first half again Fiorentina, where they could have found themselves in a big hole, cranked it up in the second 45 minutes and took home the points they needed to wrap up the title race, which for the first time in Serie A history is over before Easter.

Alex Sandro (4 points): not an overly impressive showing by the Brazilian left back, but the goal, a pretty header attacking the first post on a corner kick, massively helped the Bianconeri, who started to play convincingly only after that goal. As for the others, Wojciech Szczesny did not have an easy day between a knock on the wrist and a near laughable blunder in the first half, but came out perfectly late on the uncovered Bryan Dabo to prevent the equalizer. Continue reading

Spalletti expecting a big performance from Inter vs. Roma

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Luciano Spalletti held his traditional pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow night’s crucial Serie A match against Roma. Here is what he said to the journalists who gathered at the Suning Training Centre earlier this afternoon: Continue reading

Škriniar insists Inter deserve to be considered among the best

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During an interview with Sky Sport, Inter central defender Milan Škriniar spoke about a variety of issues including this weekend’s crucial Serie A match against Roma and his blossoming partnership with Stefan de Vrij at the heart of the Nerazzurri defence. Here is what he had to say: Continue reading