Who should replace Gennaro Gattuso?

Napoli took aggressively to this past transfer window, securing Victor Osimhen for a record fee. The southern-based club was largely expected to challenge for the title this season but has since failed to deliver. While recurring injury problems have undoubtedly played their part, Napoli has simply not been good enough. As their struggles persist, reports suggest Gattuso will not last past this season.

Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis is yet to offer him a contract renewal, highlighting his lack of faith in the World Cup winner. A number of high-profile names have been linked to the Napoli hot-seat, including Massimiliano Allegri, Vincenzo Italiano, Maurizio Sarri, Rafa Benitez, and most recently Luciano Spalletti.

Let’s start with Allegri. Napoli would be lucky to have the former Juventus boss on its touchline, but his arrival remains unlikely. Allegri is reportedly holding out for his next opportunity and has his sights set on a move to England. While he would definitely bring some much-needed stability to Napoli, the chances of him arriving are slim to none.

Beyond Allegri, a sensational reunion with Maurizio Sarri has been reported. As the old Italian saying goes, “la minestra riscaldata non e mai buona.” Reheated soup is never good. The veteran tactician had his shot and brought Napoli as far he could take them. The season he spent in Turin with Juventus will not help his chances either, but as a whole, Napoli should stay away from Sarri. Their side is vastly different from the one he lead and would require a total shift in the way they play.

The same logic applies to Rafa Benitez. The only reason the Spaniard is being linked back with a move to Napoli is due to the familiarity he already has with the club. The former Liverpool boss is not a great fit with the club’s current project and would not be able to deliver the consistency they so desperately crave.

That leaves us with the final two options: Spezia’s Vincenzo Italiano and Luciano Spalletti. In many ways, these are arguably Napoli’s best two options to replace Gattuso. On one hand, Spalletti has a proven track record of results in Italy, most recently delivering Champions League football with Inter. While on the other, Italiano has impressed with Spezia and appears ready to take the next step to a bigger club.

Spalletti definitely offers more guarantees, but Italiano would introduce a fresh style of play, opting for an aggressive pressing system. At the end of the day, the final decision will come down to De Laurentiis. The Napoli president has proven he can swing either way – going with experienced options in the past in Benitez or Ancelotti or going the unproven route by hiring Sarri off the back of his breakout year with Empoli.

An article on Napoli’s managerial situation would not be fair without giving Gattuso a fair shake. Who knows – the Partenopei can still turn their fortunes around, string a positive run of results, and finish the season strongly. Crazier things have happened. Gattuso has already proven he can steady a sinking ship, leading Napoli to a Coppa Italia triumph last season, but appears to be in his final days.

Napoli would be wise to start considering alternatives starting with Spalletti and Italiano. While Benitez and Sarri are both on the table, going back with your ex is seldom a good idea. Let’s face it – neither would be able to lead Napoli to new heights. Elsewhere, securing Allegri would be a masterstroke, but the veteran tactician reportedly sees his future elsewhere.

With just 15 games to go and a big decision looming large, De Laurentiis has a lot to consider. Whether he opts for an experienced bench boss or the new kid on the block remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: He is not short on options.

Join the most popular Fantasy Serie A game here: fantasyseriea.com

 

 

 

Paulo Fonseca on the hot-seat in Roma

Roma has struggled in recent weeks with Paulo Fonseca attracting heavy criticism in the nation’s capital. The Giallorossi suffered a disappointing defeat against Lazio in the latest iteration of the Derby Della Capitale and most recently slumped to a shock elimination against Spezia in the Coppa Italia. To make matters worse, Fonseca wrongly made six substitutions, handing Roma its second forfeit of the season.

Roma avenged its defeat in the Coppa Italia on Saturday, but nearly dropped points once again. The Italian giants needed a stoppage-time winner to overcome Spezia, with Lorenzo Pellegrini firing home the winner in the seven-goal thriller. The win offers Fonseca some temporary respite in the Roma hot-seat, but as the disappointing performances pile on the tactician’s future is very much in doubt.

According to recent reports, Roma is seriously considering replacing Fonseca come summertime with a number of high-profile managers in contention. Massimiliano Allegri and Maurizio Sarri have since been linked with the job, casting further uncertainty over Fonseca’s future.

Despite the increased reports, Roma is still picking up results, emerging as legitimate top-four contenders. While the Giallorossi have gotten the job done thus far, their struggles against top sides over the course of the season have been concerning. Roma is yet to win in its clashes against Italy’s top six, losing to Atalanta, Napoli, and Lazio, while playing out to draws against Juventus, Milan, and Inter.

Beyond the disappointing results, Roma has conceded 16 goals in these six games, highlighting their defensive issues. In many ways, the second half of the season will be defining for Fonseca’s tenure in the nation’s capital. The first step for the Portuguese tactician is guiding Roma back into Europe’s elite competition. Should Fonseca deliver Champions League football at Roma, the case for his departure weakens significantly.

The reality is, Champions League football alone is simply not enough. Roma must demonstrate considerable improvement against Italy’s giants in the second half of the season. As the race for top four intensifies, it may just prove to be the difference. While qualifying for Champions League football is good in itself, Roma needs to show it can compete at the highest level under Fonseca.

Fonseca’s naivety has been on display in big games with Roma, underlining a worrying trend. Should the lapses in concentration continue, the Roma brass must seriously consider how much of their woes stem from their manager. The Portuguese boss has instilled an entertaining and expansive brand of football, but Roma often falls short in their own defensive third.

Let’s now consider Fonseca’s potential replacements. Allegri has regularly proven to be one of Italy’s elite tacticians, enjoying varying degrees of success where he goes. The former Juventus boss would offer Roma some much-needed stability and pragmatism, which will especially come in handy in big games. If Allegri is interested in the job, there is no reason why Roma shouldn’t pull the trigger.

Other than Allegri, Sarri has often been linked with the Roma hot-seat. The 62-year-old was most recently sacked by Juventus despite leading them to yet another Scudetto. Sarri’s 4-3-3 is arguably a better fit for Roma’s current roster, making for an intriguing appointment. While his ideas never fully got implemented in Turin, a potential move to Roma could just be the shake-up Sarri needs. With the pressure to deliver trophies reduced, Sarri could hit the ground running – much like it was the case with Napoli.

Fonseca’s time in the nation’s capital may just be coming to an end, even if he leads Roma back into the Champions League. Allegri and Sarri represent a better fit given their experience in Serie A and could offer Roma a fresh start they need.

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? If you’re for it play fantasyseriea.com

Juventus stuttering under Andrea Pirlo

The Andrea Pirlo era has not exactly gotten off to the start Andrea Agnelli was hoping for when he appointed the rookie tactician. Juventus has struggled in recent weeks, dropping points against Crotone and Hellas Verona. In fact, the Bianconeri have only recorded one victory on the field this season – in their opener against Sampdoria. Beyond the poor results, Juventus look like a side clearly in transition and is currently in the midst of defining its new identity.

Since his appointment, Pirlo has emphasized the need to press up the pitch and force turnovers as well as committing many men forward in attack. This is a complete turnaround from his predecessors, notably Maurizio Sarri. The former Empoli tactician stressed the importance of intricate buildup play and recognizable patterns of possession. Pirlo has completely shaken this up and has instilled a new system in place, which allows for flexibility in and out of possession.

When Juventus lose the ball, they typically fall into a back four and defend with a 4-4-2. As the side wins back the ball, however, the Bianconeri quickly transition into a hybrid 3-5-2/3-2-5 of sorts and look to stretch the opposition. Considering Pirlo did not have a preseason to work out the kinks of his system, growing pains are to be expected. In addition, this setup is the polar opposite of Sarri’s footballing philosophy.

As a result, it is only normal that Pirlo encounters some issues when attempting to essentially reset his players. Tactical changes take time to be fully immersed into the eleven, even if the poor results add to the pressure he is currently facing.

Beyond their recent struggles, it is important to consider Juve’s notable absences. Cristiano Ronaldo has missed the side’s last three games after testing positive for COVID-19, and will likely miss their upcoming clash against Barcelona. Other than Ronaldo, Pirlo has had to make do without Alex Sandro, Matthijs de Ligt and until recently, Paulo Dybala. Weston McKennie is another player who tested positive for COVID-19, after his impressive start to the season. When considering that four bonafide starters have been missing, it puts Juve’s early-season struggles into context .

Absences, however, are not excuses as the side has failed to impress in their last two league affairs. Once again, Juventus have demonstrated complacency in their games against Hellas Verona and Crotone and only took the game to the opposition after conceding a goal. This mentality has been present for the past two seasons now and is something that needs to be changed immediately.

Pirlo’s men played their best football in the last 20 minutes of their most recent clash against Hellas Verona as their backs were against the wall. Simply put, a narrow deficit should not be necessary for the side to demonstrate urgency on the pitch. The Italian champions were at their best in their Champions League opener, dominating the proceedings from the get-go, and must translate this mentality into their domestic play. Otherwise, they risk relinquishing their Scudetto crown for the first time in 10 years.

Juventus will now shift their attention to Barcelona in their second Champions League game and will do so, with only one fit central defender. After Barcelona, the Bianconeri take on Spezia, Lazio, and Cagliari. Despite their notable absences, Juve will have to return to winning ways sooner rather than later, otherwise risk falling into crisis mode.

Given it is still early days in Pirlo’s tenure, it would be wise to exhibit patience and allow Juve’s regular starters to return to action before judging him and his setup. The early signs have been encouraging, but Pirlo needs to eliminate his side’s complacency and introduce a newfound desire to conquer Italian football.

Are you a Serie A expert? Can you defeat the top Serie A Fantasy Managers? If you think so, play fantasyseriea.com now!

Aaron Ramsey looks to continue resurgence against Roma

When Aaron Ramsey joined Juventus from Arsenal last summer, much was expected from the Welshman. The 29-year-old was brought in to address the Bianconeri’s continued midfield woes but failed to make an impact under Maurizio Sarri. This season, however, Ramsey looks rejuvenated and is ready to hit the ground running. 

Ramsey is your prototypical mezz’ala and thrives playing on the outside of a midfield three. The former Arsenal man is at his best roaming dangerously in the final third and making late, unmarked runs deep into the opposition’s territory. After arriving last summer, Ramsey struggled in Sarri’s rigid system and was largely tasked with relaying possession in predictable patterns.

It may only be one game under rookie manager Andrea Pirlo, but the former Juventus legend appears to have completely shaken things up in Turin. The Italian champions defend in a compact 4-4-2, and commit many men forward, ultimately transforming their setup into a hybrid 3-2-5 of sorts. Ramsey has been among the biggest benefactors in this setup, and looked extremely dangerous in Juventus’s season opener against Sampdoria.

Operating from the left-hand side of the midfield three, the former Arsenal man was a constant threat and wandered dangerously in support of Cristiano Ronaldo and Dejan Kulusevski. Ramsey arguably played his best football since joining the club, creating four clear-cut chances throughout. Ronaldo was not his typical lethal self in front of goal, otherwise, the former Arsenal man would have finished the game with three assists.

Beyond contributing in the final third, Ramsey’s newfound freedom ensures he’s present in Juve’s pressing schemes high up the pitch. The Welshman regularly led the Bianconeri’s press, forcing the Blucerchiati into many unnecessary turnovers. Last season, Ramsey was constrained to sitting deep on the right-hand side of the midfield three, and largely let games pass him by.

Pirlo’s footballing philosophy remains mostly unknown until this point, but one thing’s for certain: The Juventus tactician relies heavily on the mobility of his midfielders and asks them to be constantly on the move. Ramsey thrives in similar setups and played his best football at Arsenal when given the license to get forward in support of their front-line.

Ramsey was interviewed by Sky Italia this week and touched upon the recent changes under Pirlo.

“We have a new coach, a new staff, new ideas, and the players are very involved in this,” Ramsey said. “I think we have more fun than last year. The training sessions are hard but there is also a little bit of joy. We started well but we still need to improve.”

While he may be deployed in the midfield on paper, Ramsey acts as a defacto trequartista for most of the game in Pirlo’s setup. Ronaldo lingers dangerously around the 18-yard box occupying the opposition’s defense, while Kulusevski and Ramsey are largely tasked with linking it all together. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see where exactly the Welshman fits in Pirlo’s plans when the whole roster is fully fit.

“In this team, there are many great players, we call all play and help the team reach their goals. I’m happy to be able to play together with these top-quality attackers,” added the Welshman.

It may have taken him a full season to acclimate himself to his new surroundings, but Ramsey appears reborn under Pirlo. The 29-year-old is slowly carving an important role for himself in the middle of the park and will only improve as the season wears on. Pirlo’s fluid system offers his midfielders the ability to get forward, all-while contributing to the press.  The biggest question mark, however, remains Ramsey’s fitness issues. If the Welsh international manages to stay fit, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be a crucial piece to Pirlo’s formation.

Sign up to eurofantasyleague.com the game where football fans meet to compete.

 

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!

Juve hope Pirlo move isn’t reminiscent of Ferrara stint

It didn’t take Juventus very long. Within hours of sacking Maurizio Sarri in the aftermath of their Champions League Round of 16 exit to Lyon, the club announced Andrea Pirlo as their new coach.

The announcement duly sent the footballing ecosystem into a flurry of bewildered questions, with the main one of course being: “Wasn’t Pirlo just confirmed as coach of the Juve U-23s?”

Indeed he was, on July 30th the club announced that Pirlo had returned to the club where he’d played for four years to coach the U-23 side, replacing Fabio Pecchia. Nine days later, he was sitting in the big chair. Talk about a fast-track promotion.

Club director of sport Fabio Paratici believes Pirlo is a ‘predestinato’ – bound for greatness – due to his remarkable gifts as a player. Many have used the examples of Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane as once legendary players who transferred their skills from the pitch to the dugout.

However as has been pointed out, Guardiola coached Barcelona’s B side for a season in 2007-08, and Zidane underwent an apprenticeship with Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid, in addition to coaching their Castilla side for two years. Pirlo, by contrast, has bypassed all of this on the way to the black and white throne.

It’s a risky move from a club that for most of its history takes very few gambles when it comes to managerial appointments. In fact the last time they hired a practical novice was in the summer of 2009, when they hired Ciro Ferrara at the expense of Antonio Conte.

Ferrara, a Juve legend, had little experience aside from a brief period as part of Marcello Lippi’s backroom staff at the victorious 2006 World Cup. Ferrara had only gained his coaching licence a year before being appointed by the incompetent sporting director Alessio Secco, who hoped Ferrara would be their Guardiola.

After years of playing a mechanical 4-4-2 system under the likes of Fabio Capello, Didier Deschamps and Claudio Ranieri, Ferrara promised change. A switch to a 4-3-1-2 was in order he announced, due to the €25m signing of Brazilian No.10 Diego from Werder Bremen, and Juve would be more adventurous, more modern.

Seven months later he was sacked. A positive start soon gave way to disastrous results and supporter malaise, as it was fairly evident that Ferrara was out of his depth, and replaced by Alberto Zaccheroni at the end of January. In defence of Ferrara, he was handed a mediocre hodgepodge of a squad that consisted of ageing veterans and poorly-advised signings that were ill suited to the style he intended to play. Diego wasn’t long following Ferrara out of the exit door either, sold in the summer of 2010 as Juve appointed Gigi Delneri as coach and a return to 4-4-2.

Like Ferrara, Pirlo faces similar structural squad issues. Four continuous summer transfer windows of poorly-made decisions has now left a bloated, unbalanced squad filled with players on big contracts that they won’t get elsewhere. In the wake of the Champions League KO, Paratici has faced mounting scrutiny, who many feel has been a failure in the sporting director role since replacing Beppe Marotta in the autumn of 2018.

In the early years of their decade of dominance, midfield was arguably Juve’s strongest area of the pitch (with Pirlo himself being a key component), to such an extent that a player like Claudio Marchisio would often find himself relegated to the bench. Since 2015, Marotta and then Paratici essentially neglected the region, selling first Arturo Vidal and later Paul Pogba, whilst trying to plug gaps with ‘free’ signings such as Emre Can, Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot. It’s now reduced what was once a midfield of power, strength, guile and grace into one chronically short on quality.

Whilst it is fair to question many of Paratici’s dealings since taking charge, Marotta isn’t free of criticism. The €90m signing of a-then 28-year-old Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli made little sense in 2016, and makes even less now. Juventus have spent the better part of two years trying to offload the striker, however his €7.5m per season wages have deterred many suitors, a noose around the club’s neck.

The sacking of Sarri won’t magically solve all of Juve’s problems. A major rejuvenation is necessary, a purge of all the costly mistakes of the last several summers. Can Paratici, given the current climate, be relied upon to shift unwanted players? It remains to be seen if he will even remain at the club, given the latest rumours surrounding his future.

Ferrara struggled to make sense of the Juve side he inherited, club President Andrea Agnelli will be hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself with Pirlo.

How well do you know Italian football? Want to challenge the best Italian Football Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasyseriea.com now!

Jose Callejon – Serie A’s best signing of the last decade?

Recall the scene: Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne would receive the ball down on the left hand channel of the opponent’s half. Insigne would take several touches, cut inside and delicately float a beautifully weighted diagonal pass behind the opposition defence and into the stride of Jose Callejon on the right hand side, who’d timed his run impeccably.

Callejon would either take one of two options: he’d instantly kill the ball with his first touch and shoot at goal, or roll it across for Napoli’s central striker to tap it in. Throughout the Maurizio Sarri era, this scenario played out seemingly two or three times a game, with a goal usually the end result. Continue reading

Three Takeaways From Sarri’s First Season At Juventus

Maurizio Sarri’s first season with Juventus did not exactly go to plan, with the Bianconeri losing two finals and stumbling to their ninth consecutive Scudetto. After securing the league title against Sampdoria, the Italian champions now have their sights set on overturning a narrow first-leg deficit against Lyon in the Champions League.

With the season officially behind us, it’s as good a time as any to reflect on Sarri’s first year in charge. Here are three takeaways from the season that was:

1) Individual brilliance reigns supreme. 

Much was expected from Sarri in his first season, but the veteran tactician disappointed and was regularly bailed out by individual brilliance in the final third. Beyond some encouraging signs of ‘Sarriball’ at different stages in the season, Juventus often relied on the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala to lead them to the title. Moving forward, Sarri will be hoping the Bianconeri acquire technical players, which will help him further implement his playing philosophy. The additions of Dejan Kulusevski and Arthur will help in this respect, but Juventus arguably need another midfielder.

If Juve’s top brass is hopeful of every seeing Sarriball at the Allianz Arena, they will need to bolster the side and the midfield in particular, starting with this summer.

2) Shaky defense responsible for dropped points. 

Juventus have struggled at the back this season, conceding 38 goals on the season with two games to play. In fact, no Bianconeri side has conceded more over the last ten years, dating back to Luigi Del Neri’s Juventus, who finished 7th place. Their lapses in concentration have cost Sarri’s men crucial points throughout the year, dropping a league-leading 18 points from winning positions.

Sarri has had to make do with middling fullbacks and even converted Juan Cuadrado to right back at the beginning of the season. With Alex Sandro failing to hit his former heights and Danilo struggling when called upon, Juve’s defense was as vulnerable as they have ever been. Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci formed an uncompromising partnership at the heart of defense, but were often let down by their fullbacks. Next season, Sarri will be hoping for a more solid Juve side, otherwise, their domestic dominance may just come to an end.

3) Juventus need to cut their deadwood. 

If one thing was made clear this season, it’s that few teams around the world have more deadwood than Juventus. The Bianconeri have a number of players on inflated wages contributing little to nothing on the pitch. Sami Khedira featured under 1000 minutes on the season, collecting 6 million euros a year. Bosman signings Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot make 14 million euros between them and combined for a mere four goals on the season. Gonzalo Higuain, the side’s third-highest earner, regressed significantly this year, netting seven goals.

Moving forward, this is something Juventus are going to have to address and cut ties with mediocre players on increased wages. Recent reports suggest that the club is pondering a mutual termination of Khedira’s contract while Higuain is weighing a return to Argentina. Beyond them, the Bianconeri’s top brass has important decisions to make in the middle of the park. Ramsey has not looked sharp when called upon while Rabiot has kicked into another gear in recent weeks. Given their high wages, it may be difficult to find a suitor, just one season after acquiring them.

In any case, Paratici will  be a busy man this summer as he will be looking to rejuvenate this Juventus side and decrease their wage will significantly. The former Sampdoria director is off to a strong start so far, but is arguably just getting started.

Sign up to eurofantasyleague.com the game where football fans meet to compete.

Grading Juventus’s Scudetto Winning Season

Juventus clinched its ninth consecutive Scudetto on Sunday, besting Sampdoria thanks to goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi. The latter notched his first goal in Serie A in two years, breaking his goalscoring duck. It wasn’t always pretty for the Bianconeri, but Maurizio Sarri’s men inevitably got the job done.

Let’s take a deeper look at Juventus’s Scudetto-winning team.

Player of the season: Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portuguese superstar is undoubtedly Juve’s player of the season, netting 31 goals and counting in league play. Since the restart, Ronaldo has struck a partnership with Paulo Dybala, forming a deadly one-two punch in the final third. If the Bianconeri have any chance at overturning their narrow one-goal deficit against Lyon, Sarri’s men will need Ronaldo firing on all cylinders.

Signing of the season: Matthijs de Ligt

The former Ajax man got off to a rough start in Bianconero, but quickly kicked into another gear as the season wore on. de Ligt formed an uncompromising partnership at the back with Leonardo Bonucci and established himself as one of the league’s best centerbacks. Today, the defender is crucial to the Italian champions’ long-term plans. Juve’s defense conceded more goals than they are accustomed to, but it would have undoubtedly been worse without de Ligt.

Most improved player: Rodrigo Bentancur

The Uruguayan international took the next step in his career this season, becoming a first-team regular under Sarri and dominating the proceedings in the middle of the park. With Miralem Pjanic on his way to Barcelona, Bentancur is expected to become Juve’s undisputed regista next season. The former Boca Juniors man combines a keen sense of anticipation with an impressive passing range and is well on his way at becoming one of football’s elite midfielders.

Biggest disappointment: Miralem Pjanic

Many of Juventus’ players can feature on this list as the Bianconeri regularly left a lot to be desired on the pitch, despite their positive results. Initially, much was expected of Pjanic under Sarri with the Bosnian featuring at the heart of the veteran tactician’s setup. The former Roma man struggled immensely this season, offering little to nothing in the final third. As a result, it did not come as a surprise once Juventus decided to swap him with Arthur and send him to Barcelona.

A word on Sarri: 

The former Napoli tactician was handed arguably the weakest Juventus side in recent memory and managed to win his first trophy in Italian football, becoming the oldest manager to win a Scudetto. While the end result was positive, Sarri’s Juve often underwhelmed, losing both finals they played in. The side may have been out-of-balance due to a weak midfield and middling fullbacks, but Sarri’s first season in Turin was largely disappointing.

What’s been more concerning has been Juve’s propensity to drop points from winning positions, relinquishing 18 points. In addition, the Bianconeri were uncharacteristically weak at the back, conceding 38 goals on the season. Only Luigi Del Neri’s Juve conceded more over the last decade. Ultimately, the veteran tactician often relied on individual brilliance to see his side over the line. Simply not good enough for Sarri who will be on the hot seat in his second season.

An overall grade: C+

In many ways, Juventus did not win this Scudetto but rather, other sides lost it. Lazio, Inter, and Atalanta all challenged the Bianconeri at times but dropped points at crucial moments throughout the season. Inter held a narrow led atop the table early in the season while Lazio looked a shadow of their former selves after the restart. Sarri’s Juve looked as vulnerable as they have ever been and will need to significantly bolster their ranks if they are to make it ten in a row next season. Factor in both final losses to Lazio and Napoli and what seems to be an early Champions League exit and Juve will be disappointed with their season.

Sign up to eurofantasyleague.com the game where football fans meet to compete.

Will Sarri’s first success at Juventus come in the Champions League?

Maurizio Sarri has suffered cup disappointment once again as Juventus were beaten in the Coppa Italia final by Napoli on penalties around a week.

Juve were favorites among the betting firms going into that tie at the Stadio Olimpico where it was Sarri’s former side Napoli who held their nerve better in the penalty shootout. The defeat in Rome marks the second straight season that Sarri has lost a cup competition in the final on penalties. In the 2018/19 campaign, his Chelsea side were beaten by Manchester City at Wembley by the same outcome.

Although the betting suggests Sarri’s best chance of silverware this season may come in Serie A, where Juve are locked in a battle with Lazio for the title, the Italian club could still win the Champions League.

Juventus 16/1 To Win Champions League

Sarri’s side are 16/1 to win the Champions League this season. If he were able to deliver Europe’s premier trophy, it would be an impressive opening campaign at the Old Lady.

Juventus have not won the Champions League since they were successful in 1996, beating Ajax in the final that year in Rome. They did reach the final recently in 2015 and 2017, losing 3-1 to Barcelona and 4-1 to Real Madrid respectively.

The Turin-based club’s odds will be much shorter if they are able to overcome Lyon in their last 16 tie in the competition. Juventus trail 1-0 after the opening leg in Lyon. Without an away goal at the Groupama Stadium, they have a lot of work to do when the two sides meet again.

Bayern Munich and Manchester City top the betting for European crown

Bayern Munich are the 11/4 favourites in the Champions League outright betting at this stage of the tournament. They recently recorded their eighth consecutive Bundesliga title so they can fully concentrate on Europe now.

The German club lead Chelsea 3-0 following the opening leg of their last 16 fixture at Stamford Bridge. Barring a huge comeback from the English side, they should reach the quarter-finals.

After a slow start this season, Bayern have been in excellent form in the second half of the campaign. Robert Lewandowski is the top scorer in the Champions League this season with 11 goals to his name.

Manchester City are next best in the betting for the trophy at 3/1. They are bidding for their maiden Champions League win in what may be their last season in Europe for two years unless they overturn their ban from UEFA. The English champions have Premier League odds available of 5/6 to go the rest of the season unbeaten as they have red-hot form since the return of the Premier League.

Guardiola won Europe’s main competition twice when he was in charge of Barcelona. He was hired by the English club to try and deliver the most prestigious trophy in European football.

UEFA have announced that from the quarter-finals onwards this year’s competition will take place in Lisbon in August. The final has been scheduled for the 23rd of August.