Dybala wishes to stay and Allegri’s presser

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Paulo Dybala talked to the journalist at an Adidas event yesterday, backtracking from his brother recent remark’s about being unhappy at Juventus: “He speaks for himself. I have discussed with Fabio Paratici, he knows that I want to continue playing with Juventus. Then it is not up to me, the management will make his choices based on the new coach’s ideas, but I want to stay.”

On the new coach: “I believe even the executives do not even know yet, I hope he will be a great one in order to win everything. That is the most important thing, then the fans want to see good football and few managers are capable in that area. We have thanked and greeted Massimiliano Allegri, we are very grateful for what he has done.” Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 38

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Juventus: Blaise Matuidi and Federico Bernardeschi are suspended, while Joao Cancelo and Mario Mandzukic both fractured their nose in the same week and are unavailable for Sunday. Alex Sandro is dealing with a rib contusion. Douglas Costa (calf), Mattia Perin (shoulder) and Sami Khedira (knee) remain sidelined as expected. Cristiano Ronaldo will be rested, while Wojciech Szczesny has suffered a knee injury.

Napoli: Allan and Kalidou Koulibaly are disqualified. Amadou Diawara looked close to returning from a foot fracture for a pair of weeks, but he was again unable to make the squad list, like Adam Ounas that is banged up and David Ospina, who is still in Colombia. Mario Rui is out with an undisclosed injury.  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

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 37

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Standings implications: Atalanta held on to dear life against Juventus and took home a point that allowed them to pull even with Inter in third position, but they are up head-to-head, as the Nerazzurri fell apart in Naples. Milan stay in the hunt one point behind them after defeating Frosinone, while Roma need a miracle since they bungled the Sassuolo game. Torino fizzled out of the Europa League race since they were topped by Empoli. In the race to avoid relegation, the Tuscan Azzurri leapfrogged Genoa, while Udinese and Parma punched their ticket for next year’s Serie A by topping SPAL and Fiorentina, Cagliari by tying with the Griffon. La Viola is very much in the thick of it since they will square off against Genoa next week, over whom they hold a three-point lead. Empoli will pay Inter a visit. Bologna got the job done with a point on Monday too.

Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 37

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Juventus: Leonardo Bonucci has recovered from his ankle sprain, Daniele Rugani from hamstring soreness and even Mario Mandzukic was able to practice fully late in the week after dealing with a patellar tendon problem for a while. Moise Kean has shaken off the flu. Giorgio Chiellini has picked up yet another calf ailment, but he is available. Miralem Pjanic is fine after twisting his ankle last week.

Napoli: Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne have good chances to return after skipping one with muscle fatigue. Nikola Maksimovic and Amadou Diawara are close to healing from their foot infractions. David Ospina is still in Colombia for personal reasons, while Adam Ounas remains questionable after missing one. Continue reading

Dybala replies to kids’ questions and Mandzukic rumours

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Paulo Dybala answered to some questions coming from kids through a Tuttosport initiative. He began by addressing who his childhood idols were: “I liked Juan Riquelme a lot, but I have never seen him play in person. I admired Ronaldinho too.”

On playing other sports: “I have tried out tennis and basket, but for a limited amount of time. I have always played football. I started really young, when I was 4 or five, in an academy. When I look back at those times, I always remember having a ball between my feet.”

On his dream: “I wanted to play football, that was my goal and my dream. I have made a lot of sacrifices, but I pulled it off by debuting with Instituto de Cordoba when I was 17.” Continue reading

What should Juventus do with Paulo Dybala?

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With reports linking Juventus to moves to up and coming offensive stars like Fiorentina’s Federico Chiesa, and Benfica’s Joao Felix, it begs the question: Where does Paulo Dybala fit in Massimiliano Allegri’s plans for next season? La Joya is coming off his worst season in bianconero, and has largely struggled to fit into Allegri’s tactical schemes this year. When he isn’t dropping deep into the midfield, Dybala often finds himself wide on the right looking for time and space.

What his inevitably leads to is the Argentine international picking up the ball far away from the goal, with little possibility to make the most of his creativity in the final third. With Cristiano Ronaldo occupying a central position, Dybala has found it hard to carve out a consistent place for himself in the starting eleven, and will need to adapt moving forward. While his output and overall play suffered immensely, Juventus would be foolish to give up on the 25-year-old at the first sign of adversity, and instead re-think his best position.

After all, Dybala was dubbed the heir to Alessandro Del Piero, and was awarded the number ten jersey with this in mind. In 36 appearances in all competitions this season, the former Palermo man notched 10 goals, and four assists; his worst return since his first season in Serie A back in 2012.

While it would be easy to discard him and sell him to the highest bidder, Juventus should avoid that at all costs, and look to incorporate him more into their setup. Basic economics state that it’s foolish to sell an asset at their lowest value. Following this indifferent season, the only way for the Juventus man is up.

This season Dybala’s role was largely on the periphery of the first team, and he was rarely given the license to dictate play. At times, he cut a frustrated figure and disappeared in games, however, Juventus should not forget about the natural talent he has at his disposal. We’re still talking about a player that scored 19 goals in league play in his first season, and a further 22 last season. In addition, the Juventus board would be suffering from short-term memory loss if they have already forgotten his man-of-the-match displays in the Champions League against Barcelona, and Tottenham.

Given the results-oriented nature at Juventus, Allegri opted not to take any risks, and rather than letting Dybala play through his struggles, the former Milan tactician went with Mario Mandzukic and Federico Bernardeschi. While both players are crucial pieces to the Juventus machine, neither possess the natural talent Dybala does. Given that they are willing runners, both featured consistently in Juve’s big games, yet fail to offer what Dybala could in the final third. If Juventus are to hit that next level, something they failed to do this season, they will need La Joya playing his best football.

Even though Mandzukic and Bernardeschi are arguably better fits alongside Ronaldo in Allegri’s current setup, the Juventus boss didn’t bother trying any alternatives, and instead trying fitting in a circle in a square peg. When that didn’t work, Dybala was relegated to a bench role, and his struggles continued. Next season, Allegri will either need to change his tactical setup or he will risk wasting Dybala’s talents two years running.

At Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane got the best out of Ronaldo alongside Benzema with Isco behind them pulling the strings in a 4-3-1-2. Allegri should take notes, and use Dybala in similar fashion to the Spaniard. While it is increasingly difficult to incorporate a trequartista into modern tactical schemes, Juventus cannot afford to leave Dybala out of the lineup consistently.

On Dybala’s end, on the other hand, he’ll need to improve. That goes without saying. At times, the former Palermo man looked tuned out of games, and let his frustrations get the better of him. If Fabio Paratici’s words are anything to go by, however, Dybala and Allegri will need to coexist next season, and thrive together once more.

“Of course Dybala will stay. He is a Juve player and it’s obvious he will certainly remain,” said the Juventus sporting director.

Following one of their worst seasons in recent times, Juventus and Allegri will need to go back to the drawing board, and re-evaluate Dybala’s best position. Otherwise, it’ll only be a matter of time before Dybala is moved, and Juventus are back to square one.

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Allegri talks before the Fiorentina game

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Coach Massimiliano Allegri returned in front of the press on Friday: “Luckily there is potential Scudetto clincher tomorrow. We are disappointed, but we must accept what happened in Champions League. We will analyze everything once the title will be conquered and we will plan the future with lucidity and without being carried away by emotions following the elimination against a deserving team.”

On his future: “I have a year left on my contract, I have not discussed anything yet with the president since we were focused on the European campaign. It has still been a great season since we took home half of the trophies on the line. The Scudetto was not a sure thing.” Continue reading

Allegri and Can speaks before the clash with Ajax

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Massimiliano Allegri and Emre Can met the press ahead of the Ajax game yesterday evening: “Mario Mandzukic is out, I have to decide whom to pick to replace him: Paulo Dybala, Moise Kean or neither. It is clear that if one of them starts, I will not field Joao Cancelo and Mattia De Sciglio together, which is a possibility. I will not make my pick until Wednesday morning.”

On the match: “The first leg does not count, we will have to respect Ajax when they will play in our half. We need to be alert, it will be a very long game, both sides will compete until the end. We will need the everybody’s contribution: the starters, the subs and the fans. It will be an important night that could allow us to reach an extraordinary result, it is even more important than the Atletico Madrid game. We will have to defend all together.” Continue reading

Dybala Set to Start Against Ajax

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With Mario Mandzukic out injured, reports suggest that Paulo Dybala could get the start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi. Until now, la Joya has struggled to impose himself on games, and has looked an awkward fit in Allegri’s various formations this season.

Instructed to drop deep to receive the ball, Dybala has often been on the periphery of games, and has largely struggled to impact the proceedings from an unfamiliar deeper role. With the score tied at one all, and going back to the Juventus Stadium, the return leg against Ajax is a great opportunity for Dybala to make a statement, and prove doubters wrong. Recently, there’s been reports linking Dybala with a move away due to his recent struggles; something that he’ll be eager to quash as soon as possible.

Against Ajax, Allegri is reportedly fielding Dybala as the out-and-out striker, a position he’s rarely played this season. When given the opportunity to play closer to the goal, the Argentine international has not disappointed, scoring six goals in ten games. Going up against Matthjis de Ligt won’t be easy, but if anyone has the skill-set to drag him out of position, it’s Dybala. In doing so, the former Palermo man could open up spaces for Ronaldo to attack. In the first leg, de Ligt was a rock at the back, and marshalled Mandzukic wonderfully when necessary.

Moreover, with Emre Can returning, and acting as the shield for the back four, Miralem Pjanic will be given the license to get forward; a luxury he was not afforded in the first leg. With the Bosnian international getting forward to dictate play, Dybala won’t be forced to drop as deep as he normally does, and he’ll be able to make the most of his ability in and around the eighteen-yard box.

When Pjanic is allowed to play in a more advanced role, the team plays noticeably better, as evidenced in the return leg against Atletico Madrid. Against Ajax, expect it to be no different as the former Roma man will look to get forward with more regularity. The importance of Can’s return cannot be emphasized enough, and it will have a massive impact on the team, as well as Dybala’s game as a whole. Rather than being forced to act as the side’s creator, Dybala could focus on hurting Ajax in the final phase.

Mandzukic’s absence, by contrast, will be felt, however, given his recent form it may be for the best. While Mandzukic sacrifices himself for the team, and unselfishly goes into aerial duels, the Croatian has been largely ineffective these past few weeks, and could do with a spell on the sidelines to recover ahead of a crucial stage in the season.

In theory, Mandzukic’s rugged style of play attracts defenders, and opens up space for his teammates – namely Ronaldo. However, if the first leg was anything to go by, Mandzukic struggled immensely to acclimate himself with the pace of the play and frankly isn’t suited to play against Ajax.

Dybala, by contrast, is a far more technical player and could interchange nicely with Ronaldo and Bernardeschi. As a result, it will be difficult for Ajax to cope with Juventus’ attack if there’s no consistent reference point throughout. In addition, the Argentine has proven time and time again that he’s ready for the biggest stage, scoring crucial goals in the Champions League against Barcelona, and Tottenham. Factor in Nicolas Tagliafico’s suspension, and things get harder for the Ajax rearguard playing away from home.

With all to play for in Turin, Allegri is turning to a familiar face in Dybala to help see his side through. While it hasn’t been his best season in bianconero, the quality is still there and it would be foolish to give up on him now. Against Ajax, he will be afforded a massive opportunity to make a statement; an opportunity Dybala cannot squander.

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