Juventus aiming for a magical tenth Scudetto!

They say that the more things change, the more things stay the same and although the world around us is evolving with each passing day, there is still a constant feature that comes from within the confines of Italian football.

A constant that is found at the Allianz Stadium with Juventus racking up a ninth successive Serie A title last season. Now there is a question that sits on everyone’s lips – can the Old Lady go on and make it ten in a row?

Clearly, there is no doubt that Juventus have been the dominant force in Italian football over the past decade. Although some have come close to bloodying their nose, the status quo has remained since the 2011/12 season with Juve being crowned champions at the end of every single season.

Depending on where your support lies, Juve’s continued dominance has either been a great thing or some scene out of a horror movie. Anyone who supports the Bianconeri be grinning at the prospect of a tenth consecutive league title.

Unfortunately for the anti-Juve crowd, another winning season for the Old Lady would mean more bad news for the rest of the top division in Italy. When you consider that last season’s edition of the Bianconeri was hardly a vintage offering, there is indeed room for the Italian champions to improve this time around!

With potential changes still on the horizon, Juventus remain the favorites to win another Serie A title. Former legendary midfielder Andrea Pirlo is now at the managerial helm- and his name could be etched into immortality at the end of the season.

It’s been a rather tumultuous summer for both Pirlo and Juve- one that has seen the 41-year-old earn a career promotion far quicker than he or anyone else for that matter, could have ever envisioned.

Although they are by far the superior squad on the domestic front, the Bianconeri have yet to return to the top of the continental scene with another disappointing offering in
the Champions League last season. This meant heads would eventually roll.

Even though Maurizio Sarri led the club to their ninth successive and his first-ever Serie A title, it was deemed as not enough by the powers that be. With their European exploits falling short, the former Chelsea manager was shown the exit door.

A decision that meant a replacement for Sarri had to come from within and even though Pirlo had only been appointed as manager of Juventus U23 nine days previously, he soon found himself taking charge of the first team instead.

While the appointment seemingly follows a recent trend all over Europe and one that has seen club greats return to take the managerial reigns and where the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United have blazed a trail, Juventus have now followed.

This means Pirlo either has the easiest job in world football or the hardest because this is a team of talented stars that some claim almost picks itself. On the flip side, it could also be far too big a task for the man who won 116 international caps for Italy.

Even though he was considered one of the greatest deep-lying playmakers of all time, his managerial nous is yet to be trusted and although immortality is perhaps waiting, his coaching career could be over before it has already begun.

Pirlo’s one overriding objective is to make sure the championship link continues. Should it break then whoever oversees the lapse in dominance in Italy will have to carry a huge burden for years to come. Nothing less than the Scudetto is expected. Probably more convincing and entertaining performances are expected as well.

Sarri was brought in to improve the club’s performances and to provide entertaining football because his predecessor Max Allegri had been a serial winner with the Bianconeri yet his last two seasons were marked by dull and unconvincing football.

The rest of Italy’s football fraternity is hoping that Juventus’ luck finally runs out and that this is the season when a new club is crowned king. At the same time, it is unfair to say that the last nine Serie A titles have been won by luck and nothing more.

Quite simply, this is a team that is superior and deeper than all the competition can provide. The fact that the Bianconeri keep winning, may suggest that the man in charge is not all that important as he acts as nothing more than an interchangeable entity.

Antonio Conte then Allegri and Sarri have all won the league title when in charge of Juve. This means Pirlo is up next and if he can secure the tenth consecutive Scudetto with some convincing performances on top of that, a bright future beckons for
both him and the club.

If Juve do get into double figures in terms of successive titles then who knows
at what number the streak will finally end!

Do Juventus have a Pjanic Problem?

When Juventus triggered Miralem Pjanic’s release clause, many thought the Italian champions had secured one of the world’s elite midfielders and increased the gap between them and the rest of the field. While that looked to be the case in the Bosnian international’s first two seasons with the club, Pjanic has since slowed down.

Last season, Massimiliano Allegri deployed him in a new position as the side’s regista; the deepest-lying midfielder on the field. Initially, it worked out for Juventus and the former Roma midfielder used his range of passing to dictate proceedings. As the season wore on, however, Pjanic struggled to impose his game on the opposition and proved to be a defensive liability.

Under Maurizio Sarri many expected the 29-year-old to return to his dazzling form, but Pjanic hasn’t exactly kicked on. Playing in front of the defence, the midfielder was supposed to be an essential part to Sarri’s offensive schemesoffering the link between the back four and the front three. Jorginho acted as this link to Sarri both at Napoli and at Chelsea, while the Bosnian seemed like the right man for the job at Juve.

Pjanic, however, has continued to struggle in this deeper role and often opts for the safe option rather than the line-breaking pass Sarri so desperately craves. His pass completion rate is near an impressive 90 per cent, but it is not representative of the impact he’s had on games. If anything, it demonstrates how passive he is, rather than taking control of games. While his fellow midfielders lack in quality and Pjanic is tasked with filling multiple roles at times, the former Roma man often puts in anonymous performances for the bianconeri. 

In addition to his dwindling impact in possession, Pjanic offers no defensive cover as the side’s regista, leaving the back four often exposed on the counter. This season, the bianconeri have conceded the most goals they have in recent years, having already shipped 17 on the year.

While many associated Andrea Pirlo to pinpoint passing and deadly set-pieces, his defensive impact was often forgotten, playing in the same role as Pjanic. He may not have been the most rugged of players, but Pirlo always contributed significantly defensively, whether it was interceptions or tackles. Pjanic has fallen short in both those categories thus far. Given the Bosnian’s importance to Sarri’s tactics, this is not something that could go unaddressed.

The good news for Sarri is that he’s been presented with an alternative to Pjanic in recent weeks. After an indifferent start to life in black and whiteRodrigo Bentancur has impressed over the last few games and has now established himself as a set-starter in the midfield. Currently, the Uruguayan international has been playing on the right of Pjanic as a mezz’ala, but has regularly played as the side’s regista both under Allegri and under Sarri, at times.

Given Pjanic’s struggles, Sarri would be wise to swap them positions and field the 29-year-old higher up the pitch with Bentancur slotting in at regista. After all, Pjanic made a name for himself at Roma playing as a number eight. Alongside Radja Nainggolan and ahead of Kevin Strootman, Pjanic had a career year, notching 10 goals and 12 assists. What wouldn’t Juventus give for similar output?

With less defensive responsibility and more freedom of movement, Pjanic has demonstrated he’s up there with the world’s best and is something Sarri should look to foster. Given his past exploits as a mezz’ala, it makes Sarri’s decision to keep fielding him deep all the more puzzling. Factor in Bentancur’s recent form and it makes the switch a no-brainer.

As Juventus head into a crucial part of their season, they’re going to need Pjanic in top form. A slight position change may be exactly what the doctor ordered and the solution to Juventus’ “Pjanic problem”.

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Three Juventus Players Set to Be Reborn Under Sarri

With the Massimiliano Allegri era officially over, the Juventus brass identified Maurizio Sarri as the man to lead the revolution at the club. While the past five seasons under Allegri were largely successful, there were clear signs of stagnation, especially amongst some of the side’s key performers. With the former Chelsea boss now at the helm, however, expect a rebirth of sorts for many of these players. Here are three Juventus men that are worth keeping an eye on going into the new season.

Alex Sandro (left back)  

When the Brazilian first joined the bianconeri, he was regarded as one of the best fullbacks in the world, and lived up to the hype early on offering some much needed offensive enterprise and flair from the left. However, over the course of the last two seasons, Alex Sandro’s progression has come to a screeching halt, and the former Porto man has looked a shade of his former self.

Luckily for the for the 28-year-old, Sarri tends to get the most out of his offensive fullbacks. At Napoli, Sarri’s tactical setup meant Faouzi Ghoulam played an important role in the final third, and reached a new level under the veteran tactician. Through the use of offensive overloads, Sarri’s fullbacks see plenty of the ball in the opposition’s half, and are seen as much more than mere defenders; a luxury that was not afforded to the Brazilian under Allegri.

At Chelsea, it was much of the same. Whether it was Marcos Alonso or Emerson, both defenders played an integral role in the final third, and progressed as players. Under Sarri, expect Alex Sandro to put his recent woes behind him and re-emerge as one of football’s elite left backs.

Paulo Dybala (attacking-midfielder)

Last season, the Argentine looked out of sorts whenever called upon, and regularly failed to impact proceedings under Allegri. Whether he was playing as the side’s main striker or on the wing, Dybala never fully looked like himself and had his worst season yet in bianconero, netting five goals in Serie A action. Much of this falls on Allegri’s pragmatic outlook, however, la Joya must assume some responsibility and soldier on in the upcoming season.

In Sarri’s first press conference, he quickly outlined that Dybala, alongside Ronaldo and Douglas Costa, will play a key role for him in the final third. At Napoli, the tactician got the best out of Lorenzo Insigne, Callejon and Higuain and turned them into the league’s most feared offensive trios. If his exploits with Insigne are anything to go by, a Napoli player most similar to Dybala, expect the Argentine international to have a big season in Turin.

While it’s still unclear where exactly Dybala will feature given Ronaldo’s presence, he will undoubtedly play a key role in Sarri’s progressive setup, and could finally focus on putting his creativity to use to open up opposition’s defences rather than tracking back. Big season ahead for Juventus’ crown jewel.

Douglas Costa (winger)

The Brazilian, much like Dybala, had a tumultuous season under Allegri riddled by injury problems, and disciplinary concerns. While it was recently reported that the former Bayern man is of interest to French giants PSG, Sarri quickly quashed those rumours and indicated the winger is someone he’s extremely keen on working with.

Given his electric nature, Douglas Costa will fit like a glove in Sarri’s 4-3-3 and will offer some much needed pace and unpredictability in the final third. However, there’s one concern: Sarri’s tactical scheme is one of rigidity and repetition, which may pose an issue to a mercurial player like Douglas Costa.

In any case, if Sarri is able to bridge that gap and demonstrate to him the merits of his setup, expect Douglas Costa to be on his A game next year and torment defences.

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Rugani set to benefit from Sarri appointment

Recently, it’s been heavily reported that Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is nearing an exit, and is close to signing a contract with Italian champions Juventus. This comes following a successful season in London, that saw the Italian tactician steer the English giants back into the Champions League after a solid third-place finish, and claim the Europa League in emphatic fashion.

Despite his success, Sarri intends on leaving, and is likely returning to Italy with the bianconeri as front-runners for his signature. According to Italian media outlets, the former Napoli boss feels his work at Chelsea went under-appreciated, and is leaving as a result of this. While Juventus’ offensive players will be licking their lips at the prospect of Sarriball, including a certain Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala, one player to keep an eye on is Daniele Rugani.

The defender had a torrid season under Massimiliano Allegri, and failed to take his game to the next level, as many expected him to. Every time he featured, Juventus’ rearguard looked shaky, and never had any sense of cohesion. However, Rugani is a player Sarri has valued for a long time now, and even pushed for his signing when he was at Napoli. Even if it never materialized, it shows Sarri holds the defender in high regard.


When the pair were together at Empoli, the young defender was a crucial part in the tactician’s setup, and played an integral part to his possession-based buildup out of the back. Outside of his confidence on the ball, Rugani was a lockdown defender in Tuscany, something that he has since failed to translate to Juventus.

At Juventus, it’s been a complete different story for the centre-back. Often playing second fiddle to Leonardo Bonucci, Mehdi Benatia or Giorgio Chiellini, Rugani has struggled for consistency, and has looked a shade of his former self when called upon. This season, the former Empoli man was regularly bested by physical opposition, and often looked timid in possession. With Bonucci and Chiellini on the wrong side of thirty, it’s time Rugani steps up and delivers on the hype.


While question marks remain over his ability due to his recent exploits, Rugani was fantastic at Empoli under Sarri, and proved to be one of the league’s top defenders. Should Sarri join the bianconeri, as it’s largely being reported by the ever reliable Romeo Agresti, expect Rugani to have a bigger role at the club. In addition to the added responsibility, the 24-year-old will have the complete faith of his manager, something that might have been lacking under Allegri.

With his newfound confidence, Rugani will experience a resurgence of sorts, and could potentially develop into the defender many expected him to be. Under Sarri, much like it was the case at Empoli, Rugani could continue his progression as a ball-playing defender. In recent times, this aspect to Rugani’s game has stagnated, as he has focused solely on defending.

With his risk-averse mentality holding him back, Rugani hasn’t been able to demonstrate his complete ability, and has since been labelled a flop. That being said, expect the tune to change under Sarri’s guidance and witness Rugani reborn. After all, it may just be his last shot at redemption in Turin.

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Paratici, Barzagli and Allegri comment after winning awards


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

Juventus 2018-2019: Player Ratings

With the Serie A season coming to a close, and Massimiliano Allegri on his way out, it’s time to evaluate the season that was and have a look at how Juventus’ players have fared.



Wojciech Szczęsny – 9/10: In his first full season without Gianluigi Buffon, the Pole did wonderfully, and was arguably Juve’s most consistent performer. Proved to be the ideal replacement for Gigi.

Mattia Perin – 5/10: Well, only one goalkeeper can play and the former Genoa man was a victim of Szczęsny’s phenomenal form. Otherwise saw his season derailed by injury problems. Could use a move away.

Carlo Pinsoglio – N/A: Did not play a single minute. Mostly there for the training pictures.



Mattia De Sciglio – 5/10: Was one of Allegri’s favourites, and was his typical solid but unspectacular self. However, the Italian didn’t offer much going forward, and had some lapses in concentration when called upon.

Giorgio Chiellini – 7.5/10: Would have a higher grade if it weren’t for injuries, but the hard-nosed defender was Juventus’ best without a doubt. Without him, the team struggled, and largely missed his presence and physical stature. Showing no signs of slowing down.

Martin Caceres – 4/10: Brought in due to an injury crisis at the back in January, and rarely featured. When he did play, however, he showed exactly why the club moved on from him.

Alex Sandro – 5/10: Where is the Brazilian of two seasons ago? Much like De Sciglio, Alex Sandro was unspectacular throughout most of the season, and often lost his marker in the defensive third. Showed close to nothing in the final third, and will need to adjust his game moving into next season. Mediocre.

Andrea Barzagli – 6/10: The veteran defender rarely featured throughout this year, and saw his final season ravaged by injury problems. Regardless, any time he saw the pitch he did his job with aplomb. Farewell, la Roccia. 

Leonardo Bonucci – 6/10: The defender returned to Juventus in controversial fashion, however, didn’t do much to win the fans back this season. Was a shadow of his former self, and outside of a few impressive performances, it appears that Bonucci has regressed significantly. Lost his man or was beat in the air more times than I can count.

Joao Cancelo – 6.5/10: You get the feeling he was held back by Allegri. After a blistering start to the season where the Portuguese defender was Juve’s best player, Cancelo was reduced to a bench role and struggled for consistency in the second half of the year. While he still needs to improve defensively, Cancelo demonstrated, on his day, he’s among the best fullbacks in the league.

Daniele Rugani – 5/10: Many expected more from the former Empoli man, however, once again, Rugani disappointed. Was beat by almost every physical threat he came up against, and looked hesitant in every game he played. He will need to improve, or will likely be shuffled out of the rotation.

Leonardo Spinazzola – 6/10: Like Cancelo, his grade would be higher if not for Allegri. Despite Alex Sandro’s indifferent performances, the Italian international was mostly used off the bench, until the return leg against Atletico where he was a constant menace. Expect Spinazzola to have a much bigger role next season.



Miralem Pjanić – 6/10: The Bosnian international had his worst season in bianconero, and was inconsistent throughout the entire campaign. Despite flashes of brilliance, Pjanić was a bystander throughout most games, and arguably needs to play higher up the pitch. Gets a pass as Juve’s midfield as a whole was a mess, but shouldn’t be considered untouchable in any way.

Sami Khedira – 4/10: When he wasn’t in the infirmary, the German was labouring on the pitch and struggled to impose himself. It’s time Khedira leaves Juventus, and starts fresh elsewhere.

Blaise Matuidi – 6.5/10: The Frenchman was a crucial part to Juventus’ midfield, and did the dirty work for his teammates. While his skill-set and technique in general are limited, his industrious ways meant he always played an important role in big games. For that alone, there’s value in keeping him next season, albeit in a subdued role.

Emre Can – 6/10: Like his teammates, the German international was consistently inconsistent. His performance against Atletico Madrid was a masterclass in versatility and awareness, but the former Liverpool man was unable to recreate that on a weekly basis. Like Matuidi, expect him to feature regularly next season.

Rodrigo Bentancur – 5/10: Juventus expected much more from the Uruguayan this season, but Bentancur appeared to stagnate. Needs to cut out the silly fouls, and play more direct with the ball at his feet. Should get another season to figure it out as the talent is there, otherwise Bentancur should expect to be put on the chopping block.


Cristiano Ronaldo – 9/10: The Portuguese international was among the few consistent performers this season, and almost dragged Juventus deep into the Champions League on his own. Simply put, Ronaldo showed up. His teammates did not.

Paulo Dybala – 5/10: Another victim of Allegriball. The Argentine international looked lost all season, and failed to adapt to a deeper role. While Allegri’s tactics will get much of the blame, Dybala himself could have been much, much better. Expect to see him reborn next season under a new manager.

Douglas Costa – 5/10: Spit-gate, injuries, and overall inconsistency kept the Brazilian out of the eleven, but he did relatively well when called upon. With Allegri gone and the shackles off, Douglas Costa is another player that is set to benefit.

Juan Cuadrado – 5.5/10: The Colombian international saw his playing time limited due to injuries, and only featured regularly towards the tail end of the season. Expect Juve to shop him around, as they cannot afford yet another inconsistent performer in the final third.

Mario Mandzukic – 6.5/10: A tail of two halves. In the first half of the season, the Croatian was as crucial as Ronaldo, scoring important goals every other week. After the winter break, however, fatigue caught up to him, and Mandzukic struggled to impose himself. Will benefit from a much needed break this summer.

Moise Kean – 7/10: The youngster played a crucial role in Juventus’ eighth consecutive Scudetto, scoring important goals against Udinese, Cagliari and Milan among others. With a mini-revolution on the cards, Kean’s importance at the club will only grow.

Federico Bernardeschi – 6/10: Bernardeschi had his best season yet at Juventus, however, that’s not saying much. His heroics against Atletico Madrid and his strong start to the season did a lot for his general perception, but it doesn’t change the fact that the former Fiorentina man was often ineffective in the final third. He’s clearly very talented but for a player with over 2000 minutes of football in all competitions, Juve expect more than three goals and four assists. In any case, he made positive strides forward.


Massimiliano Allegri: 4.5/10: Had the keys to a Ferrari, but drove it like a Prius. The former Milan boss will be kicking himself for not doing more with the squad at his disposal, which led to his sacking. Juventus’ heartbreaking defeat in Cardiff seems to have gotten the better of him therefore a sabbatical should serve him well. 4.5 points for winning the Scudetto, zero elsewhere.

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Lazio must dust off chequebook to ward off Juventus interest in Simone Inzaghi

Simone Inzaghi

As the haze from the post-Coppa Italia celebrations begins to clear, some images are stronger than others.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic rising higher than anyone to head in the opener. Joaquin Correa bursting through the Atalanta defence to seal Lazio’s seventh win in the competition.

And Simone Inzaghi being lifted on the shoulders of his players after masterminding the 2-0 victory from the touchline.

It was the crowning achievement of Inzaghi’s tenure in charge of the Roman club and one that silenced the critics, who had started to emerge after an inconsistent season in which he failed to achieve the objective of Champions League qualification. Continue reading

Agnelli and Allegri address the coach’s exit


Andrea Agnelli and Massimiliano Allegri held a joint presser to explain the decision to part ways. The president had the floor first: “I will not answer about any question about the next coach. I am here personally to celebrate Max, who has written the history of Juventus. We had not won five titles in a row since 1930’s. I remember on May 2013, where we were in London for the Champions League final, Fabio Paratici and I were staying the same hotel as Max and I told Fabio that I believed Allegri would be the next Juventus coach. It happened 14 months later and he came here amid much criticism. On that day, we were informed that a crowd had gathered at the Vinovo training center, the driver wanted to use a back entrance, but I told him that we had nothing to hide, we firmly believed in our choice. At the end of that season, I tweeted that it took some guts to accept the job on July 16th and lead the squad to victory.” Continue reading

Allegri unveils his book


Coach Massimiliano Allegri unveiled his book ‘È molto semplice’ (“It’s very easy”) yesterday, so here are the more relevant parts of the presentation: “Everybody will tease me in Livorno because nobody would have ever thought I would write a book. It was an adventure, it was my first one but I hope to do some more, because it would mean that I have had some more experiences. It lists 32 rules and some anecdotes.”

On Cristiano Ronaldo: “He is better than the others on mental level. He sets new targets for himself every day. It is a really hard thing to do for somebody that has won as much as he did at age 34. He is lethal in that aspect, his lucidity and fierceness are incredible. We can all learn from him, I for instance learned that it does not happen often to be able to coach the best in the world. Continue reading

Allegri Set to Experiment in Final Games

With their season all but wrapped up, Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is ready to take the opportunity and experiment with his roster. In recent press conferences, the Juventus tactician has alluded to the fact that he’s ready to try new things with his eleven, and will reportedly start doing so with the Inter game. This season, Allegri has altered his eleven almost every single game, which in turn, lead Juventus to play without a clear identity regularly. With the pressure now on Allegri more than ever, it’s of paramount importance that he finally nails down his best formation, and setup ahead of the new season.

In his pre-match press conference before the Inter game, Allegri told reporters the following:

“Bernardeschi is forced to play as a forward but I want to see if he can play as a central midfielder in the future. It’s an experiment that excites me. The other variation I want to try is that of Cancelo as a mezz’ala. Other than that, seeing Emre Can in defence is nothing new.”

As Allegri suggested here, Bernardeschi’s future could be as a mezz’ala. The former Fiorentina man has featured centrally at times this season with success. With Juventus lacking quality in the middle of the park, an issue that plagued the side in the Champions League, Bernardeschi’s quality has been a welcomed addition in the midfield, and has offered some much needed innovation from deep.

Cancelo, on the other hand, started the season wonderfully, and was a constant menace down the right-hand side early on. However, as the season wore on, the Portuguese international slowed down, and struggled to impose himself on games. In addition, Cancelo proved to be a defensive liability at times, switching off in crucial moments.

As a result, Allegri often opted for Mattia De Sciglio, and is now considering using Cancelo in the midfield. While this idea is an interesting one, Cancelo’s future is, without a doubt, at right back and deserves to prove himself there. The former Valencia man, like any other young defender, will make defensive mistakes, and will need to learn from them. When he was in form, he was one of Juve’s best players bar none, and deserves a shot to recreate that form next season. As a result, this midfield experiment should hopefully be just that; an experiment.

As for Emre Can, his future may, in fact, lie in defence. The Juventus faithful were first given a glimpse of this in their Champions League encounter against Atletico Madrid, when the German dropped back from midfield as Juventus’ third centre-back alongside Bonucci and Chiellini. In doing so, Can nullified Alvaro Morata’s threat and arguably had his best performance in bianconero. This tactical wrinkle bore fruits, and is something Allegri will have on his mind moving into next season. When the former Liverpool man first broke out through the German ranks, it was in defence. Next season, expect to see more of Can at the back, especially considering Juve’s recent struggles back there.

While claiming their eighth consecutive Scudetto early was anticlimactic, it gives Allegri a unique opportunity to experiment with his side in ways that weren’t possible before. Whether it’s Bernardeschi in midfield or Can in defence, expect to see a different Juve next season.

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