Big Game Mandzukic Helps Juventus Prevail in Derby d’Italia

With Inter coming into the latest Derby D’Italia in good form and with the potential to open up the title race, Juventus had to be on their toes. While it wasn’t the bianconeri’s best performance to date, Allegri’s men did just enough to best their counterparts and claim the three points in unspectacular fashion, extending their lead at the top to 11 points. The game started at break-neck pace with both teams exchanging chances early on, however, Inter looked more threatening with midfielder Roberto Gagliardini hitting the post mid-way through the first half.

Awoken by the near goal, Juventus kicked into another gear and started to dominate the possession again, yet struggled to break down Inter’s resolute back four. The breakthrough came in the second half when Joao Cancelo, formerly of Inter, found himself one-on-one with the man who replaced him Šime Vrsaljko. After cutting the ball to his preferred right foot and a slightly body feint later, the high-flying fullback carved out enough space for himself to deliver an inch-perfect cross to an onrushing Mario Mandzukic. Like we’ve seen countless times in Juve’s big games in recent times, the Croatian bullied his former teammate Kwadwo Asamoah at the back post and slotted home with ease; an Allegri trademark over the years.

Backed by a man-of-the-match performance by defensive stalwart Giorgio Chiellini, Mandzukic’s goal would be enough for Juve to prevail on the night and apply further pressure on title challengers Napoli ahead of their clash against Frosinone. While Ronaldo, Dybala and Douglas Costa provide the flair in the final third, Allegri’s Juventus still very much relies on the warrior-like mentality imparted by Chiellini and Mandzukic. Since the former Milan tactician has taken over, both players have been at the heart of the side’s success like none other and have come to typify exactly what it means to play for Juve.

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Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 15

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The next round features one of the games of the season, Juventus-Inter, and few other juicy match-ups.

Juventus-Inter: the Bianconeri got the better of Fiorentina, extending their winning streak to five fixtures, but in that occasion they were not as dominant as the final score showed. Against Roma, Inter dropped points for the second time in a row on the road and, despite scoring twice, they never looked in control. The same thing happened in Bergamo, but they are extremely opportunistic, so they can never be counted out. Cristiano Ronaldo added one to his tally with a penalty in Florence, while Rodrigo Bentancur continues to impress. Mario Mandzukic is generally money in big matches, while Douglas Costa has the potential to be a factor off the bench. Despite being useful in other areas, Paulo Dybala’s offensive stats in Serie A have been subpar. Continue reading

Chiellini, Dybala, Paratici, Pjanic and Nedved speak at Gran Galà

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Monday was a day of awards, as the Ballon d’Or was handed to Luka Modric, with Cristiano Ronaldo finishing second and Mario Mandzukic 25th, and Serie A held its Gran Galà. Juventus triumphed as best team of last season, Massimiliano Allegri prevailed as best coach and four and a half Bianconeri got into the ideal XI: Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Miralem Pjanic and Paulo Dybala, while Joao Cancelo was recognized for what he did last year at Inter.

Several personalities spoke to the journalists during the event. Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Week – Round 14 – Juventus

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Juventus were the only team to defeat the opponent by multiple goals while also keeping a clean sheet, therefore they get to make an appearance in the club of the week column, something than has been less frequent than one would expect considering they have won 13 out of 14 games. The match was also much more challenging than what the final score indicates.

Massimiliano Allegri chose Mattia De Sciglio to replace the injured Federico Chiesa, but he moved Joao Cancelo to the left flank, so he did not have the burden of dealing with Federico Chiesa, and gave Miralem Pjanic a rare rest day, with Juan Cuadrado deployed as box-to-box midfield. Paulo Dybala completed the triden, tracked back a lot to contribute to the build-up. Continue reading

Allegri’s presser ahead of the Fiorentina clash

Juventus Press Conference

Massimiliano Allegri previewed today the Fiorentina tilt: “We will have to play well because the matches in Florence never end. Their squad will be pushed by the entire city, they will be fierce and will try everything to beat us. The first three teams will all play on the road in this round. It is not a trap game, but certainly a difficult one.”

On the midfield: “Rodrigo Bentancur still has some energy in him and will start, then we will evaluate the conditions of Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi. Juan Cuadrado could be used there, but we will see where they are at physically. Wednesday’s bout was intense and draining, we need mental and physical energies.” Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 14

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The next Serie A slate is pretty tasty on paper.

Fiorentina-Juventus: the Viola are having a weird season. They started off decently, showing well especially at home, where they are still undefeated and have a sound defense, but they have struggled to score recently. They have not netted more than one since late September and they have drawn in their last five matches, against Cagliari, Torino, Roma, Frosinone and Bologna. On the other hand, the Old Lady is cruising with 12 wins in the year, four in a row after the tumble against Genoa, but it will be tested before the break. Fiorentina’s offensive problems stem primarily from Giovanni Simeone and Marko Pjaca’s poor form, as they have combined for just three goals so far. Federico Chiesa is always doing stuff, but he has not bagged many as well. Continue reading

Allegri’s presser ahead of Juventus-SPAL

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Coach Massimiliano Allegri previewed tomorrow’s clash with SPAL earlier today and begun by addressing the Balloon d’Or rumours: “I do not know anything about that. Cristiano Ronaldo is practicing well and would deserve it for what he has done.”

On Paulo Dybala scoring with Argentina: “It is a nice step for him. He is constantly improving, he started off very well this year, both physically and mentally. He has to keep it going, but that also depends on his desire. He is at his best when he plays almost as midfield, between the lines, knitting the maneuver. He tracks back to help his teammates and then feeds Mario Mandzukic and Ronaldo, who work less in the build-up.” Continue reading

Rugani case brewing and Juventus night in Brooklyn

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It was not as evident as the Medhi Benatia one, who directly asked for more playing time, but there could be some more dissatisfaction the Juventus defense. Yesterday Daniele Rugani’s father Ubaldo commented a picture of his disappointed son on the bench with Italy, as he did not get to play in the last two fixtures: “There is no need to add anything, this face says it all. However, this story will end soon and we will take back everything he deserves and more. Vamos DR24, in my mind he is the best Italian defender.”

Rugani’s agent Davide Torchia tackled the topic today to RMC Sport radio: “There is not any issue, it is up to the club to decide how and when to start the negotiations for the extension. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 13

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The next round could be a little one-sided for the top clubs, but surprises are always around the corner in Serie A and there still a couple of juicy games on deck.

Juventus-SPAL: the Bianconeri prevailed in the always tense match-up with Milan, surviving a penalty but appearing pretty dominant overall. They have won in 11 of the first 12 games, setting a new Serie A-point record to start the season. SPAL looked a little better against Cagliari, but squandered a two-zip lead and had to settle for a tie. They had lost in six of the previous seven fixtures. Mario Mandzukic returned to the starting XI with an immediate goal, then Cristiano Ronaldo bagged another one. Continue reading

Allegri looks ahead and Kean’s future

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Juventus resumed practicing yesterday after few days off and coach Massimiliano Allegri took stock on the club’s TV and started by addressing the recent Panchina d’Oro award: “It is a nice recognition because it is the result of what those who work hard daily do here at the Continassa center. I am symbolically the recipient, but it is a prize for everybody and it is gratifying because it is voted by the colleagues.”

“Few players joined and left over the last few years and this is a very important philosophy by the management because it adds more motivations. The quality always improved and this is crucial to remain in the top echelon in Italy and in Europe. The credit goes to the runs the team, they are working well and planning an important future.” Continue reading