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

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 33

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Juventus: Mattia Perin and Sami Khedira will undergo season-ending surgeries for shoulder and knee problems respectively. Paulo Dybala sustained a quad strain against Ajax and will miss at least a couple of weeks. Giorgio Chiellini (calf) might be back next week, while Mario Mandzukic might not be back at all due to patellar tendon issues. Douglas Costa (calf) and Martin Caceres (thigh) will skip the next two matches.

Napoli: Raul Albiol (knee surgery) has resumed practicing and might be called up this week, leaving Amadou Diawara as the only injured player. Nikola Maksimovic will be on the mend for a while due to a foot infraction.  Continue reading

Juve’s UCL elimination financial ramifications & injury updates

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As expected, the ever-fluctuating stock exchange did not take lightly to Juventus’ early elimination from the Champions League: yesterday, after opening down by 25%, the stocks have closed with a 17,63% dip and the club lost €300M of capitalization, which is now at €1.41B. They crashed down from the historical high registered on Monday, €1.7 per share, to €1.39. They are still losing value today, but at a slower rate.

The team will bring in €94M from the Champions League prize pool, which is larger than in previous seasons, but missed out on at least €16M more in case they advanced to the semifinals (€10-12M from UEFA, €5-6M of ticket earnings) and about double that if they made all the way to the final. However, it still represents the second richest haul in the club’s history after the 2016/2017 record. The overall revenue will take a hit too and, while still projected to grow, they are unlikely to reach the €500M-mark and should stop a €455M. Continue reading

Allegri and Can speaks before the clash with Ajax

Juventus Live wire

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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Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 32

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SPAL-Juventus: after winning three games in a row, against Roma, Frosinone and Lazio, SPAL were bested by Cagliari, but their recent streak gave them a little breathing room over the last three positions. Juventus toppled Milan last week, winning for the eighth time in the last nine matches and they are one point away from clinching the title. For the Estensi, Andrea Petagna has been a rock all year long, showing to be a much more prolific striker compared to his time at Atalanta. Manuel Lazzari is their main playmaker off the right flank and has picked up eight assists thus far. Jasmin Kurtic is also occasionally able to collect some bonus points, while they have not got much out of the second-striker role, as Mirco Antenucci, Andrea Paloschi and Sergio Floccari have combined for just six goals. Continue reading

Rugani and Allegri preview the Ajax tilt

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Daniele Rugani, who will start for the injured Giorgio Chiellini, and Massimiliano Allegri addressed the press late yesterday. The defender had the floor first: “We all know the value of Chiellini, I will do my best to make up for his absence. It is a very nice moment for me, I am going through it with enthusiasm. These are the kinds of game you dream about where you are a kid.”

On Matthijs De Ligt: “I know him, I faced him with the national team. We might play together in the future, why not? It is always a good thing to feature next to strong players. They have several of them, it is natural that there is some interest around them.” 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

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 31

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Standings implications: Juventus outlasted Milan on Saturday and are now one point away from the title since Napoli were held to a draw by Genoa. Roma were the only ones to succeed among the teams gunning for a Champions League berth and have pulled closer to the Rossoneri and Atalanta, who have just more point. Inter kept the suitors at bay by drawing against the Orobici, while Lazio salvaged a point at the buzzer against Sassuolo. A slow round in the Europa League race too, as Torino could not find a way to perforate Parma and the Blucerchiati were bested at home by the Giallorossi. Fiorentina keep slipping and Stefano Pioli is on the hot seat after the loss to Frosinone. In the relegation zone, Udinese capped off a big week by topping Empoli and moving four points clear of Bologna, which responded and got out of the final three spots on Monday night by trashing Chievo. Cagliari are almost save after sinking SPAL, which stay in precarious position. Frosinone are trying to mount a late comeback that would be quite incredible: the two consecutive Ws put them five points behind Empoli.

Continue reading

Allegri talks ahead of the Milan clash

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Massimiliano Allegri previewed the bout with Milan earlier today: “Cristiano Ronaldo is feeling better, there are some positive indications considering we are five days away from the Ajax game. He is doing everything in his power and we hope he will be available. He will not be called up for tomorrow.”

On the Scudetto: “When we will secure it, it will be a great night and we will fully celebrate it. Winning eight titles in a row is not easy, we have some extraordinary numbers. Our accomplishments are bigger than the opponents’ demerits, because Napoli are keeping a Scudetto-worthy pace, but we are going faster. Kudos to them. It has not been easy, it required impressive daily work and mental fortitude.” Continue reading