Agnelli’s wealth, League’s assembly and players’ soundbites

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Forbes recently released a list of the richest owners in football and the Agnelli family, which is obviously represented by the president of the club Andrea, are ranked fifth with a $15.9B net worth. They trail to Carlos Slim (Real Oviedo, $59.3B), Francois Pinault (Rennes, $31.7B), Mansour bin Zayd Al Nahyan (Manchester City, $23B), Dietrich Mateschitz (Red Bull teams, $18.9B), while they precede Roman Abramovich (Chelsea, $12.4B), Philip Anschutz (Los Angeles Galaxy, $11B), Stan Kroenke (Arsenal, $8.8B), Zhang Jindong (Inter, $6.8B), Dmitry Rybolovlev (Monaco, $6.8B) and Nasser Al-Khelaifi (PSG, $6.2B). Continue reading

Juventus can reload with Serie A players alone

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No matter what coach will be chosen, Juventus will have to address some glaring needs in the upcoming transfer market session, but they might be able to fill them with the usual modus operandi: plucking players from other Serie A teams. Here are some of the three biggest holes.

A heir to Giorgio Chiellini: the Old Lady had a good thing going in the first half of last season, where for a while they were able to rotate two well-assorted duos, Leonardo Bonucci-Medhi Benatia and Daniele Rugani-Chiellini, and go with Bonucci-Chiellini in the most demanding fixtures. Eventually, the Moroccan centre-back grew tired for the lack of consistent playing times and asked to leave and Martin Caceres was a temporary cheap patch. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 36

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Atalanta-Genoa: the Bergamaschi keep soaring and bested Lazio in a seminal clash last week, garnering their third win a row and building a little lead over Roma in the race to get the fourth position. They have not been defeated since the beginning of March. The Griffon is coming off two 1-1 ties in a row, versus SPAL and Roma, squandering a massive late opportunity on Sunday. They are four points above the third-to-last position. Suspensions are piling up for Gian Piero Gasperini and he will not be able to count on two defensive centre-pieces, Gianluca Mancini and Andrea Masiello, and more importantly on Alejandro Gomez, which will also not allow him to rotate the squad much ahead of next week’s cup final. Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata will take on an even larger load than usual: the Slovenian genius has been slowed down by some nagging injuries, while the Colombian powerhouse continues to lay hurt on opponents. Continue reading

Ronaldo expounds on weight of expectations and Pjanic hints at PSG

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Cristiano Ronaldo gave a wide-ranging interview to El Pais last week, providing an interesting peek into his mentality. He started by addressing the need to always prove his worth: “Sometimes it annoys and tires me, because every year I have to show that I am the best. It is difficult to have this kind of pressure where you to demonstrate something to the others, your family, your mother, your son and not just to yourself. This makes you active, you have to practice all the time, but there are moments where you would like to be left alone.”

On football: “I see it as a mission: I want to get on the pitch, win, improve. There were times where I just focused on dribbling past opponents, now there is more pressure, I am always scrutinized. People say that at 33/34 you are done, you should quit, but I want to surprise them.” Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 35

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Juventus-Torino: the Bianconeri have no more achievements to pursue in Serie A, but they still showed up at San Siro last week and equalized in the second half after a poor start. They have yet to drop one at home. The Granata continue to be in the hunt not only for a Europa League berth: the fourth spot is four points away. They have defeated Milan and Genoa in their last two contests and have lost just once in the past 14. Cristiano Ronaldo scored last week and Miralem Pjanic has contributed with two assists recently. Federico Bernardeschi and Moise Kean are alternating next to the Portuguese ace, but neither is in supreme form, while Juan Cuadrado is starting to look sprier and Joao Cancelo is coming back on too. Continue reading

Pjanic willing to stay but unsure of future

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Miralem Pjanic weighed in on the season and casted some doubt on his future in today’s interview with La Stampa. He started off by addressing the squad’s approach to the remaining fixtures: “We will have the same attitude we have always had and we will take the field the maximum amount of seriousness, trying to do our best. After drawing with Inter, we will attempt to win the next four games to make our fans happy. The Derby is a great source of motivation and we will do everything in our power to prevail.”

The Bosnian midfielder is currently undefeated against Torino and has managed to scored four times in 13 matches versus the Granata. Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Round 34

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Like the previous game against Fiorentina, the Inter clash was again a tale of two halves, as the Bianconeri got off to a very lackadaisical start but improved as the game progressed and were able to grab the equalizer and legitimize it late in the second half.

Joao Cancelo: nobody really stood out in the back-line in this one, as it wobbled severely in the first 15 minutes, where the Nerazzurri nabbed an early lead with an impressive volley by Radja Nainggolan and had two legit more chances to score, but then turned it around. Wojciech Szczesny was imperfect on the goal, where he touched the ball but could not palm it away, but atoned later with two or three key saves. Continue reading

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

Serie A Match of the Round – Juventus vs Milan

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Few tilts were high-scoring and intense up until the final whistle in this round and Juventus-Milan was the most meaningful one out of the bunch. The Bianconeri came into the game looking to get closer or possibly clinch the title with an advantageous combination of results that would have to start with a win, while the Devil were seeking to rebound after three unsatisfactory results, as they had recently lost to Sampdoria and Inter and tied with Udinese.

The Old Lady recuperated and started both Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic, but opted to rest Giorgio Chiellini and Miralem Pjanic. Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Round 31

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Juventus had to bring something close to their A-game in the second half, but eventually managed to outduel Milan on Saturday night and moved one win away from Scudetto.

Daniele Rugani: not a satisfactory defensive performance by any stretch, although the level of the opponent has to be taken into consideration and the Rossoneri are no slouches, especially when they are performing with this level of intensity. Leonardo Bonucci had a dreadful giveaway that led to the first goal, while the fullbacks had a muted performance, even though Mattia De Sciglio and especially Alex Sandro did manage to pitch in offensively a little after intermission. Continue reading