In the second part of our Q&A, Alberto- you can follow him here @alljuvecast- discusses Juve’s weaknesses, coach Maurizio Sarri, Gonzalo Higuain and a few other topics! Without wasting more time. Here goes: Continue reading
Juventus are in the midst of a demanding stretch both physically and psychologically. Juve remain in both the Coppa Italia and the Champions League. This means Juve will play two more games than Lazio in the next 15 days.
On paper, Juve have a big squad yet with injuries to key players such as captain Giorgio Chiellini (who made his return near the end of the Brescia game) and the long-term absence of Merih Demiral, the squad is being stretched to its limits. On top of that the club’s management made some questionable decisions in the transfer market, such as signing Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman’s quality is not in doubt, however, his history with injuries and his fitness problems are well documented.
While fans should celebrate a precious win over Brescia (2-0) with Paulo Dybala scoring from a wonderful free-kick, it is hard to find many positives other than the three points and the return of club leader Chiellini. Brescia stand in 19th place and are one of the biggest candidates for relegation. They were missing Sandro Tonali as well as other players in addition to the first goalkeeper only for his backup to suffer an injury early in the game and get replaced with the club’s third keeper.
Dybala did hit the bar and whenever he moved the team looked better. Still, his partner Gonzalo Higuain looks off in recent weeks and his movement appears to get heavier with every passing week. Below are some of the key observations based not just on events during the Brescia game but over the last few weeks:
1) Higuain’s decline in form: Gonzalo has failed to score or assist in the last 6 Serie A matches. His last goal came in the 4-0 win against Cagliari on January 6th, 2020. The bigger concern is how he has looked heavier in terms of movement.
2) Injuries: Fans are well aware of Ramsey’s status and the fact he is injury prone. What makes matters worse is the absence of Douglas Costa who is currently sidelined as well. Danilo, signed to play as right-back or serve as a backup left-back, is also injury prone but he made his return against Brescia. Pjanic barely played versus Brescia before pulling out due to injury.
3) Lack of creativity: With Ramsey’s well documented status, Costa’s absence due to injury and now Miralem Pjanic’s scare, much if not all of the responsibility to create will fall on Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo. Opponents will pay special attention to both stars and perhaps even put extra players to keep an eye on them when they have the ball. This will effectively take away from Juve’s ability to do much during games.
4) Dependence on CR7: Maurizio Sarri did well to rest Ronaldo against Brescia on Sunday. The schedule ahead is demanding and there are some decisive games, particularly in Coppa Italia and the Champions League, around the corner. Ronaldo has scored in his last 10 Serie A games which is a remarkable achievement considering the Portuguese superstar recently turned 35-years-old.
Having mentioned the above, Juve should not keep relying exclusively on CR7 to win games and to score goals. Ronaldo was signed to help deliver the Champions League but on his own he cannot do everything. The numbers do not lie. Ronaldo has done the utmost to keep Juve winning in recent weeks.
5) Playing Dybala: At times, Sarri has opted to “rest” (or to bench would be the more proper word) Dybala but that has meant playing CR7 and Higuain together. Higuain’s recent form is well below the standard he set back in November 2019 when the Argentinian veteran was performing quite well.
With Higuain off-form, Sarri must start Dybala or else all the pressure will fall on CR7. Ronaldo has looked more isolated when Dybala is not starting or playing. It is up to Sarri to find the best formation and strategy to get the best out of both CR7 and Dybala because they have proven they are the difference makers for the Bianconeri.
6) Tough Schedule: Juve’s fixtures for the next couple of weeks will see the club play 5 matches compared to Lazio’s 3 games. Lazio is just one point behind Juve in the league table and can focus fully on the league while Juve must play the 2nd leg against Milan in the Coppa Italia and next week will face Lyon in the Champions League.
Without being repetitive but the growing injury list, particularly to the creative players, means the pressure will keep intensifying on both Dybala and CR7 who will be asked to create, assist and score goals. In addition, the injuries will mean the squad is stretched even further because when players such as Douglas Costa and Pjanic are sidelined then Sarri has no option but to use less convincing players or to use certain players in different positions.
Sarri must pick his Starting XI very carefully the next few weeks and as mentioned earlier, resting CR7 yesterday was a positive move. In the meantime, Sarri must not only find the ideal XI but also motivate the players, work on getting the best out of Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado- both of whom started the season quite well before gradually declining.
It is up to Sarri to push his players and to motivate them the right way. The next two weeks could prove decisive in terms of Juve’s push to win the treble. Making sure Ronaldo and Dybala are getting the proper support from their teammates on the field will go a long way towards determining whether this hectic stretch will be a positive or detrimental one for Juve.
This weekend of the 2019/20 Serie A season is one of the more anticipated rounds, with it having been circled on the calendar ever since it came out last month.
Saturday evening sees two of the league‘s main title contenders pitted against one another at Juventus Stadium in Turin as Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus play host to Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli. Though the attention and buzz surrounding this fixture stems from Sarri’s first match against his former club, his status for the bench remains unclear at the moment. In any case, this clash promises to deliver plenty of excitement, tension and drama.
Here are five key elements which could determine the outcome of this round 2 encounter. Continue reading
Forwards are often on the receiving end of most of the attention and praise throughout the course of a season; after all, it is their end product after a build-up and impact on the scoresheet that decides matches.
There was a large selection pool to choose from, and in several forward roles, but here are the five top attackers from this past campaign. Continue reading
“When Conte abruptly left, many felt the sky was falling. The Allegri hiring was universally mocked on social media and rocks were thrown at his car when he arrived for his first training session.” I know you’ve read and heard a variation of that line many times, I can vouch for fact I used it many times myself to illustrate that we shouldn’t take for granted Allegri’s success at Juventus.
The expectations were so low when a manager who had been sacked at Milan after being constantly mocked by Rossoneri fans, and even Silvio Berlusconi publicly at a political rally, replaced Antonio Conte, a club legend who had brought Juventus back from the ashes of Calciopoli.
I bring this narrative once again to illustrate that Allegri’s stature as a candidate for a top club has only risen compared to five year ago and Juventus could very well keep winning even if his replacement doesn’t appear to be adequate at time of hire which is in line with both Giovanni Trapattoni and Marcello Lippi, who won the Champions League at the club, as well as Antonio Conte.
There also appears to be the potential for some Allegri remorse amongst some of his biggest critics based on the same the names being discussed as his replacement (Simone Inzaghi and Sinisa Mihajlovic) but make no mistake about it- it was time for both Allegri and especially Juventus to part ways.
It was bad enough that most of the club’s fans were done with pragmatic, defensive and “just do the bare minimum to win” approach, we now had Dybala’s brother and agent publicly stating many of the players were unhappy and ready to leave. Sacrificing all of the likes of Cancelo, Dybala and Douglas Costa (some of whom could still leave) because of their issues with the manager was too much of a price to pay for even the most ardent Allegri defender.
While Allegri will almost certainly land a top job abroad based on the fact he has a much higher approval rating outside of the Serie A bubble (it’s more a matter of when, since he could also take a year off and collect the checks from the last year of his deal at Juventus) it remains to be seen if the name of his replacement will be equally prestigious.
Certainly Juventus made a very significant and surprising splash by landing Cristiano Ronaldo last summer after years of being mocked for loan with option to buy deals, but they historically have always hired an Italian manager- the only exception in past 30 plus years was Didier Deschamps who had some black and white DNA after being a club captain as a player but was also hired when the club was relegated to the second division.
The fact that Zidane decided to return to Real Madrid was a game changer- just like Deschamps he has a strong tie to the club already and of course has a remarkable track record at the club. While Juventus would love to make an exception for Pep Guardiola, there appears to be no chance he leaves the club despite their potential escalating Financial Fair Play issues.
While Mourinho is represented by Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes, the biggest complaint about Allegri was his defensive and pragmatic approach and on top of that there’s the Special One’s iconic past at Inter to consider. Hiring Pochettino would be very expensive because of his release clause and he could be a candidate for Barcelona.
Recently Maurizio Sarri has also been discussed as a possibility. While there’s a distinct possibility he’ll leave Chelsea after the Europa League final, he would be an awkward fit culture wise at Juventus because of his style. It would also be interesting to see how the former Napoli coach would be greeted by all the Juve fans who loudly commented on the fact he hasn’t won anything despite playing beautiful football (at least at Napoli and Empoli)
While there has been a lot of buzz for Antonio Conte’s return, Inter are still confident they will appoint him as their next manager and there appears to still be some bad blood between him and president Andrea Agnelli based on the way he left 5 years ago- many have also noted how much warmer Juventus’ brass was with Allegri when announcing his departure compared to Conte.
That would leave two former teammates of Juventus’ most prominent directors- Simone Inzaghi is close to Fabio Paratici and has been successful at Lazio, while Pavel Nedved played alongside Sinisa Mihajlovic and was one of the finalists for Juventus’ coaching job in the past and has recently raised his stock by turning around Bologna this season.
What is Allegri’s successor walking into? Juventus is focused on winning at least two more Scudetti to make it ten in a row, plus the fans also expect a much more attractive style of play. If that weren’t enough, Allegri had already substantially raised the bar in the Champions League- you can mock him for taking credit for making two finals and losing them, but without the substantial revenues that came with those deep runs, Juventus would have never been able to sign Ronaldo and Allegri is the last manager to eliminate the two coaches in the current final.
While the expectations will be enormous, the next Juventus manager can draw inspiration from his predecessor- Allegri leaves Turin with his profile raised despite fact many assumed he would fail as Conte’s replacement.
It’s quite common for high profile sporting figures around the world to develop a love for
gambling in its many forms. From sports betting to poker, slots to blackjack, there are
sports stars who have taken these games and activities to heart. Many of those who have developed a passion for these games, would have done so after visiting some of the most exclusive casino venues in the world. It is here that a particular game usually appeals to a person and it then becomes a regular pastime.
One such sporting figure, or should we say mega star, who has developed a huge passion for poker is Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo, 34, who signed for the Italian side last summer after enjoying a stellar 9-year stint at Real Madrid is a big
lover of poker and has taken part in numerous games and tournaments over the years.
You could say that it comes as no surprise for Ronaldo to have developed an
understanding and love for poker, as he was introduced to gaming many years ago after
joining Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon. The Portuguese star’s English wasn’t the best when he made the switch to England, so he was given a DVD bingo game to help him brush up on his skills. This will have undoubtedly stood him in good stead as he moved into the more advanced world of poker.
Ronaldo’s poker passion also saw the Ballon d’Or winner secure a deal with mega brand PokerStars, and this saw the Portuguese attacker play both online and at live events around the world, affording him the opportunity to travel to and play at some of the world’s leading casino venues. Ronaldo, a sporting figure who does a lot for good causes, also once took part in a special charity game of poker alongside the likes of actor Aaron Paul, a game which CR7 managed to go on and win.
The five-time Champions League winner has spoken about poker and what it means to
him multiple times over the years saying, “Although football is my world, poker has always been my game.” He went on to add, “I love to play poker, it’s a fantastic game that I play with friends and family. To challenge the best players in the world is a pleasure for me.”
The last sentence gives us a great indication about Ronaldo’s outlook in general, as he’s always up for challenging the best on the football pitch, and the same applies at the poker table too.
So, with Ronaldo now aged 34 and nearing the twilight of his footballing career, a move into poker on a more regular basis could be on the cards. He’d certainly have no problem being invited to the top casinos and poker events around the world, and as a global brand, he would be sure to strike up some great sponsorship deals along the way too.
Juventus claimed an 8th Serie A title in a row last weekend and it was a fantastic spectacle at their stadium as Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to win league titles in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A. It was a beautiful moment and the players were genuinely thrilled.
However not to put a dampener on it Juventus had this title in the bag as far as the beginning of the year. Indeed they didn’t even lose a game in Serie A until March and the last few games the team have been letting some of their regular players such as Ronaldo sit out games in order to rest for the Champions League.
And there is that word, the white elephant that was in the stadium in name only- the Champions League. This was supposed to be the season that Juventus won it for the first time since 1996. Ronaldo had been bought specifically to put Juventus on another level, after all he had just won the competition with Real Madrid for three years in a row.
As it turned out Juventus were no match for a very well organised and utterly brilliant Ajax team, who just 12 months before were a shadow of the side we see now. Juventus who looked out of the competition when they faced Atletico Madrid in the quarter finals, losing the first leg 2-0 and winning the 2nd 3-0 reached the semi-finals but could go no further this season.
The joy of winning a title should be celebrated and Juventus have had to work very hard for it, but anyone can see that there was really no challenge. Right now as the league stands Juventus have a 20 point lead over 2nd placed Napoli a 31 point lead over 4th position of AC Milan and a whopping 73 point lead over bottom team Chievo. However just to note Chievo were deducted 3 points by the Italian Football Federation- what’s a Serie A season without some docking of points?
But that’s the thing, Juventus have been so utterly dominant that this league title doesn’t feel as good or special for example as the title they won in 2012, one that came after the betting scandals of the 2000s saw the team relegated to Serie B. The 2012 league title win felt like a statement, that Juve were back and roaring back at that. This title felt a little hoarse and just par for the course now in Serie A.
That non Champions League trophy is sticking out like a sore thumb. Next season Juventus will go for it again but it may just end up being another player, a new transfer perhaps that helps deliver the title one day to a waiting Juventus as Ronaldo gets a year older, as he chases his sixth title which would equal Francesco Gento’s record for Real Madrid. We will wait and see.
Everything came together in Ligue 1 at the weekend as Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick on Sunday against his former team Monaco in Paris as PSG won the league title.
Mbappe’s 3 goals earned him more points than any other player in Ligue 1 Fantasy Football with 14. He is top of the rankings with an overall haul of 132 points and has a value of 10.5m. He is a cool 35 points in front of the next best player Nicolas Pepe who plays for Lille.
Mbappe is also the top goal scorer in Ligue 1 with 30 goals and one has to remind themselves that he is just 20 years old- oh and of course he has a World Cup already to his name. In a week where his team mate Dani Alves became the most decorated player in history with his 42nd trophy, one has to wonder if Mbappe will surpass this record. Alves is 15 years older than Mbappe and if we say that the French forward has at least another 15 years at the very top then he has plenty of time to catch him up, he currently has 7 trophies to his name.
The 20 year old has been not just the best player in Ligue 1 this week, or this season but the best player in world football in the past 12 months. One has to wonder if Ronaldo or Lionel Messi would have won world player of the year had they won a domestic treble and then the World Cup last season. Mbappe didn’t, FIFA seemed to back out of that decision based on his then age of 19. No matter it is only a question of time, perhaps this will be the year but then again PSG were knocked out of the Champions League at the round of 16 and that could affect that vote.
Mbappe has recovered well in recent weeks too- the player was dropped from he defeat at Nantes after he criticised the teams commitment on the back of drawing 2-2 with Strasbourg and then the horrific 5-1 defeat at the hands of Lille. Of course it was just a stay of execution PSG were always going to win the league, in the end it simply dragged on more than they would have liked.
He has proven to be the ultimate striker and his pace is electrifying. Against Monaco one of his runs clocked in at an a average of 38km p/h that is quicker than 100m world record holder Usain Bolt.
For his hat-trick Mbappe was set up twice by Alves and he even hit the post meaning he could have ended the night with more goals. And there is more.
In scoring 30 goals in a single season Mbappe became the first French player to reach that feat in Ligue 1 since the great Jean- Pierre Papin.
Mbappe by light years wins the Ligue 1 player of the week in reality he should be winning every other personal competition he is involved in too. An absolute star to treasure with an even greater future ahead of him.
Prove you have what it takes to challenge the best French Fantasy Football managers here www.fantasyligue1.com
When Massimiliano Allegri was hired to replace Antonio Conte, many Juventus fans were opposed to such a move. He was met with discontent and his car was pelted with eggs and even spat at by fans lined up to “welcome him” to Juve.
Fast forward to the end of the 2014/15 season and Allegri has turned doubters into believers making himself a hero in the eyes of many Bianconeri fans… So what changed and when was the turning point? There are several factors to consider:
1) First turning point was the 2017 Champions League Final in Cardiff. Whatever happened at half-time has left a mark on certain players with Dani Alves and Leonardo Bonucci leaving and so forth. Alves would later claim he was “unhappy” at Juve
2) Why would Alves be unhappy? It does seem he was not enjoying his football. He only improved after returning from injury and after being given some freedom to attack on the right flank. Could it be the same story again with another attack-minded right-back in Cancelo? Cancelo seems unhappy too. The same could be said about left-back Alex Sandro who had a remarkable stretch with Juve before everything changed after Cardiff too. Sandro seems disengaged in most games the last 22 months.
3) Could it be Allegri is just allergic to talented players who have the desire to attack and attack more as opposed to track back and focus on defensive duties? This could explain why Allegri has often preferred Mattia de Sciglio over Cancelo?
4) What about the fate of two attackers: Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala? Mandzukic has played as a left-winger, even at times as a left wing-back, for over a year before returning to central striker following the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo. As for Dybala, he’s been used in multiple positions which do not suit his characteristics. Again, imagine Dybala, who is not physically imposing, has been asked to track back!
5) Not only attackers and full-backs are being misused, but also Juve’s most creative midfielder Miralem Pjanic is tasked with tracking back, defending, tackling and other defensive duties instead of saving his energy and turning his focus into creating chances for Juve’s attackers! Who’ll create if Pjanic is too busy tracking back! It sure is not going to be Blaise Matuidi, whose control and first touch leaves a lot to be desired, and it is definitely not Sami Khedira- who’s been injured this season and then had other health problems plus is slower than ever and never was a creative player.
Juve’s other midfielder Emre Can can play as a right-back, centre-back or a defensive midfield but he too is not a creative force. The same applies to Rodrigo Bentancur who is still very young and needs time to mature and find consistency.
6) Initially, Allegri’s football made proper use of rotating players and changing tactics- even in the same match at times. However, this has proven to be a failure the last 22 months with the XI coming out often looking like complete strangers. Top teams build harmony by often using the same XI and of course making the necessary tweaks on a regular basis. Allegri went too far, just have a closer look at certain Serie A match. It proved costly.
7) To make matters worse, Allegri not only rotated players and changed tactics, but he also changed the position of certain players on multiple occasions, and often at the expense of the team’s performances and results. How often have we seen Juan Cuadrado used as a right-back? What about the older, slower Andrea Barzagli also being used as a right-back? What about Alex Sandro used across multiple positions from left-back to left midfielder and even left-winger. And the list goes on.
8) Undefined tactics are also one consequence of Allegri’s constant change. What makes matters worse is coaches- such as the ones of Atletico Madrid (well, for the 2nd half of the game in Madrid) and of Ajax as well as even Young Boys have outsmarted and outfoxed Allegri. Diego Simeone saw how predictable Juve were in the 1st half in Madrid and he simply urged his team on to expose Juve and their tame football.
9) The repetitive mistakes are of grave concern. They could have been more costly yet in Serie A the weak opposition, lack of consistency and other factors have meant Juve a big margin of error to work with. Even last season, Napoli left Turin with a precious 1-0 win yet failed to build on it… Napoli had the momentum yet they bottled it.
10) Allegri’s reputation in big games has taken a hit: against Napoli last season, Juve needed a draw and he seemed intent on settling for a draw, even the 0-0 tie without showing much attacking desire even at home! Eventually he was punished with a 1-0 loss before Napoli gave it all away.
Against Atletico in Madrid, Allegri was pleased with a 0-0 draw as well and aimed to do nothing more than sit back and let Atletico have their way. The outcome was a 0-2 defeat.
He also made mistakes against both Young Boys and Manchester United. Against United in particular, with the score reading 1-0 Juve’s way, he opted for an unnecessary change by bringing on Andrea Barzagli. The outcome was a 1-2 defeat in Turin.
11) Juve’s defensive unit has conceded many times from set-pieces- via both corner kicks and free-kicks. A wise coach would work on those visible weaknesses. Instead Juve conceded against Atleti from a corner-kick followed by a free-kick. Against Ajax, the winning game for the Dutch team came from a corner-kick!
12) Several bad results hinted the future was not going to be all bright: The home defeat versus Man United was the first warning. Yes, Juve put in a good display for 80 minutes, but in football you need to play well and focus for 90 minutes. Allegri’s substitution and the team’s obvious weakness from set-pieces proved costly.
Against Swiss side Young Boys, Juve lost as well. The excuse was the game did not matter, however, in Europe a team must always try to win regardless of how important or unimportant the game is. You send a clear message when you take every game seriously.
Against Atletico in Madrid, Juve’s players and Allegri were outfought, out thought and out played by Atleti’s player and manager Simeone. Allegri was too late to react to Simeone’s changes even though one could sense the game’s momentum had completed shifted towards Atleti’s advantage.
13) Even Juve’s greatest win this season, the 3-0 triumph over Atleti to overturn the result and advance to the quarter-finals was also aided by Atletico’s own mistakes, including those of manager Simeone who surprisingly tried to defend a 2-0 lead from the first minute. When Juve were up 2-0, one felt it was too late to even contemplate an Atleti comeback of sorts. They wilted and duly got what they deserve with a 3-0 resounding defeat. Ironically, Juve’s win would serve as their downfall as Ajax’s players and their coach took a hold of the game’s video and surely noticed Atletico offered no fight. Ajax did not sit back in Turin.
14) Other notable Juventus wins are very few to the extent they can be counted on one hand. The 1-0 away win at Old Trafford was a great performance with Juve utterly dominating the first half against Manchester United. The other decent performance was the 2-0 away win over Valencia despite Cristiano Ronaldo receiving a red card in the first half
15) Allegri last season depended heavily on Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain to save him. This season he is counting heavily on Ronaldo. No one can deny how last season Dybala saved Juve time and again earlier in the season and then Higuain as well as Dybala combined to save Juve against Tottenham over the two-legged tie to advance to the quarter-finals to face Real Madrid. Hence, Allegri has not been playing a team’s game but rather relying on individual talents to tip the balance to Juve’s side.
16) Allegri used to complain about how Barcelona had Lionel Messi and Real had Ronaldo, yet here he is in Ronaldo’s first season not taking proper advantage of the Portuguese star’s presence. While Ronaldo has taken most of the team’s free-kicks this season, that is exactly where one can first claim Allegri is losing the plot. Why would you have Ronaldo take most, if not all, the free-kicks when you have in Pjanic one of the best free-kick takers in both Italy and Europe? And to add to that, you also have Dybala who is very lethal from the right side of the pitch.
Allegri should have integrated Ronaldo in a better and more appropriate way. In addition, the team does not create enough for Ronaldo. Imagine the best finisher in the history of the Champions League is playing for Juve, yet he has been starved of service for majority of the games in Europe due to Allegri’s approach.
17) Just as Allegri’s hiring was a gamble, if Allegri is fired then Juve will simply be taking another gamble though a very necessary one. If the objective is to win Serie A, then there are several managers who could have achieved that with this squad. If the main objective is to compete in Europe, then Allegri’s approach has proven futile on multiple occasions.
18) Fitness and injury excuses have been used as well yet why are several of the the main contenders not complaining or suffering the same way? The likes of Barcelona, who used Messi often and even against weaker sides in La Liga, are still cruising and have made it to the semi-final. Forget about Manchester City who are battling on three fronts and forget Liverpool who are still battling on two fronts, but what about even Ajax, who are also locked in a tight title race with domestic rivals PSV?
19) Of course Allegri is not to blame for everything but why was he so easily convinced of Bonucci’s return? Allegri was the one to leave Bonucci with the crowd when Juve hosted Porto in the Champions League. At the time, Allegri was praised for being brave enough to bench a key starter in an important game. Is there a complicit agreement between management and Allegri to keep him in charge as long as he did not demand much in the market? Above all the signing of Ronaldo must be every manager’s dream and by clear indication coach Allegri had nothing to do with it.
20) With former France and Juve star Zinedine Zidane returning to Real, that took away one more option for Allegri in terms of available jobs. Italy is in the hands of Roberto Mancini while Chelsea are facing a transfer ban, and Manchester City are firmly under Pep Guardiola’s guidance. Barcelona will not be making a coaching change, in particular with everything appearing to be in order at this point. This leaves Arsenal and Manchester United, yet even United seem to have settled for Ole Gunnar Solskjær. This means Allegri senses his options are limited yet also Juve’s options to replace him are limited as well. He perhaps feels a greater sense of security in this ironic situation.
It is highly unlikely to see Juve come to agreement with Jose Mourinho- a coach who appears in decline and whose methods have been questioned regularly in recent years- while Jurgen Klopp seems to be happy in charge of Liverpool.
21) Again the focus returns on that Atleti game in Turin. The 3-0 win over Atletico masked all the squad’s visible weaknesses. Ajax were clever enough to know the team’s defensive unit is shaky and would be even worse without Giorgio Chiellini. Had Juve faced a better equipped side, the results may have been much worse. In addition, Juve’s midfield lacks those who can string a few passes together and is not imposing. When Juve lost to Real in Cardiff, the 2nd half showed how the likes of Casemiro can make a difference. Midfield battles win you games, and consequently can cost you games.
22) Allegri does not care to entertain the fans, and he has made that clear more than once- even stating those seeking entertainment ought to go watch a “circus!”
However, there has to be some responsibility towards fans, in particular those who travel from across the world or pay hefty fees in order to watch their beloved team in the stadium. One thing is to entertain and another completely different criteria is being courageous in your approach. Allegri has chosen the cowardly path on multiple occasions. He did so in Madrid yet escaped after Ronaldo’s remarkable hat-trick. He did so again in Amsterdam, showing he did not learn from his mistakes, but this time it did not payoff since Juve exited in the quarter-finals.
Even in Turin, the XI he put on the field seemed disengaged and at times afraid though Juve were expected to prevail due to the experience factor among other things. A coach needs to prepare his team mentally as well. If the players are afraid as Allegri admitted, then he has failed those players at some points.
Perhaps, the biggest thing is that Allegri’s voice is no longer heard in the sense some players are tired of his demands- such as tracking back- while others have simply blocked him out completely in the sense they pretend they are following his instructions yet show little desire to do so during competitive matches.
The odds are stacked against Allegri. He did well till Cardiff in 2017, however, it has been a downhill ride ever since. Around 22 months of unconvincing football culminating with a heartless and toothless performance against Ajax in Turin.
His obsession with winning trophies and avoiding defeat have often led him to a fear of losing games. When he thinks a 0-0 would do such as versus Napoli last season or even against Atleti away and most recently Ajax at home, Allegri would do his best to get the 0-0 even if in his pregame press conferences he would claim otherwise. Allegri would promote attacking the opponent only for the expected to happen during games: Juve sitting back with the aim of getting the 0-0 draw.
Juve got what they deserve but above all it is time for Allegri to leave in May 2019.
Here we are, in the wake of another Lionel Messi master class, debating once again if he’s the best or if that title falls to his nemesis, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Frankly, it’s becoming a pathetic comparison.
Each have a different set of skills and both are incredible players in their own right. To consistently have to compare one and the other is getting very tiring.
It’s blindingly obvious that one’s feats are what drives the other on, providing the biggest motivating factor.
There’s simply no need, when Messi writes the headlines, to even involve Ronaldo in the conversation. And vice versa.
Take Messi’s hat-trick against Betis.
There can’t have been too many other trebles that have included such incredible finishes, and maybe there are none at all.
But rather than dwell on just how brilliant it was, much of the Monday morning debate was filled by facts that are of no real consequence.
That Messi is still one career hat-trick behind Ronaldo, that the Portuguese has more Champions Leagues, that the Juve man is the highest scorer ever in the top European tournament…
They, and many other stats, are trotted out, parrot fashion as if to somehow reinforce that Messi will always be in Ronaldo’s shadow.
Messi’s supporters are always looking to denounce Ronaldo’s achievements too.
This endless quest for some sort of fanatical one-upmanship isn’t of any benefit, and moves the conversation away from the absolute fact that both players are in a league of their own.
They have been for years now, and though it’s become cliche to say it, football post-Messi and Ronaldo will be an interesting watch.
Generational talents, they will not be replaced, but someone, probably Kylian Mbappe, will take their crown at some point.
Perhaps then, and only then, will there be a full appreciation of what both players brought to their profession, and what’s more, did so for an unbelievable length of time.
It’s that consistency and longevity which is truly astonishing, but let’s stop throwing around the stats willy-nilly.
Who cares if one has more hat-tricks, goals or assists than the other.
Sit back, relax and enjoy what little time we have left to enjoy them because, in the blink of an eye, both will have exited stage left.