Ronaldo talks Juventus, Messi & the Ballon d’Or

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Cristiano Ronaldo gave an attention-grabbing interview to Gazzetta dello Sport: “I am happy to be here, the city is very pretty, the fans are nice and Juventus is a fantastic club with an extraordinary organization. The players are humble and work hard. The first impression has been wonderful.”

On the squad: “This is the best group I have played in, we are a team. In other clubs, some players felt like they were bigger than the teammates, while that is not the case here. They are aligned and they want to win. Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic are happy even if they do not score. I noticed the difference. Compared to Real Madrid, this is more like a family.” Continue reading

Supercoppa fully set, stock updates, financial outlook & Juventus Travel unveiled

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This week was full of interesting quotes and some of the off-the-field news were left out, so here is a rundown of what went down. The date, place and starting time for the Supercoppa Italiana has been set: Juventus vs Milan will be played in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, with kick-off a 8.30 pm local time, 6.30 pm in Italy and half an hour after noon on the East Coast.

On December 27, in the Milan Stock Exchange, Juventus will enter the FTSE-Mib index, which is the group of the 40 most capitalized companies, joining the other assets of the Agnelli family: FCA, Ferrari and Exor. Continue reading

5 Serie A Stocks to Buy Low

The golden rule on the stock market is to buy low and sell high- that is the tried and true way to make money on commodities. We can apply this principle to Serie A players as well- this works if you play fantasy football or if you just want to sound smart while discussing Calcio.

This season we have seen some previous blue chip stocks take a substantial loss, these players used to be among the highest rated at their respective position prior to losing value because of poor performances or injuries. Let’s see who has the best chance to re establish his value during rest of the season:

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Ivan Perisic

Of all the players listed, he may have the best excuse but also the most nebulous future at his current club. Perisic was brilliant during the World Cup and was instrumental in Croatia making it to the final, so a slow start was to be somewhat expected although his teammate Brozovic has brought the positive momentum from the tournament in Russia to Serie A.

So far this season Perisic has been simply unrecognizable. He only has two goals and two assists to his name & to make matters worse we have yet to see his all around game which also features a strong defensive presence. In the meantime Matteo Politano has exceeded expectations and has become a borderline starter for Spalletti, while Keita Balde has been sensational in his last few matches after a very slow start.

If that weren’t enough, Yann Karamoh is making the most out of his loan spell at Bordeaux and looks like a legitimate piece of Inter’s plans for future while Lautaro Martinez is itching to play more upfront with Icardi. Maybe Perisic is onto something when he tells the media he would like to play in the Premier League someday.

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Sergej Milinkovic Savic

Definitely not a good sign when the highlight of his season so far is the picture he took with Diletta Leotta during Monday’s Gran Gala’ del Calcio. There have been many theories put forth as to why The Sergeant has looked like a shell of his former self. Some say he became too cocky, others mention the possibility his heart isn’t into Lazio after expecting a transfer to a bigger club in the summer despite getting a significant raise with his recent extension; in addition, there’s also the possibility this is a case of Serie A managers figuring out how to stop him.

There have been some (minor) positive signs in recent weeks since Simone Inzaghi said he’s satisfied with Milinkovic Savic’s performances because he’s playing a more defensive role this season, something we also previously saw at Lazio with Felipe Anderson. At least in the last few matches he has been adequate rather than a liability to his team. Maybe now that Lazio is on a week long retreat we’ll start seeing SMS spreading Milinkocrazia again.

 

Piotr Zielinski/ Amadou Diawara

 

Last season the Polish international was being compared to Kevin De Bruyne and he was rumored to join Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea, but now his stock has taken a hit since Fabian Ruiz has become the talk of the town in Napoli’s midfield. Zielinski has in fact played more under Carlo Ancelotti when compared to the same time period last season, yet he has failed to live up to the hype on top of failing to leave his mark at the recent World Cup. Napoli however is trying to extend his deal in part to remove or increase his exit clause.

While last season Zielinski’s stock saw a substantial rise, the same cannot be said for Amadou Diawara. The former Bologna midfielder had become Jorginho’s backup, which is a nice way of saying he barely played since Sarri didn’t like to rotate in general and even more so with his key players. While Ancelotti has given him 5 starts this season, we have yet to see him dominate a match in the way he did at the Santiago Bernabeu against Real Madrid last season.

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Giovanni Simeone

 

Unless you are a Serie A news junkie, last summer the only thing you heard about Fiorentina was all the excitement surrounding the young offensive trio featuring Chiesa/Pjaca and Diego Simeone’s son. But just like the previous hyped trio of Gomez/Rossi and Cuadrado who only ended up playing 161 minutes together for the Viola, the results have been rather underwhelming.

Simeone in particular has taken a massive step back from last season, he has only scored two goals and has missed numerous chances in recent weeks. On the bright side, manager Stefano Pioli has really no other options at the central striker role so Simeone should have plenty of opportunities to play himself back into good form.

 

Buffon returns on his farewell and Bernardeschi discusses being at Juventus

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Gianluigi Buffon participated to the TV show Tiki Taka and added some tidbits about his departure from Juventus, confirming it was a mutual decision: “I miss it, I do not want to say that it was my whole life, but it was certainly an important part of it. I lived it for 20 years, spending every ounce of sweat for the cause. However, there are moments when it is right look each other in the eyes, realize that it is time for something new and hug it out.”

“I understood it was over while talking amicably with the president, after such a long and stressful period, because being a Juventus player and captain wears you down even though it is an honor. Continue reading

AS Roma face crunch games to finish 2018

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Serie A side Roma are facing a definitive set of fixtures before the end of the year, following an inconsistent recent run of results.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side have won just one of their last six league games, which has seen them slip down to 7th in the table.

They could only draw against Inter Milan last weekend, in a continuation of their inability to win against the other big names in Italy, with a defeat already this season against AC Milan and a draw against Napoli.

Continue reading

Genoa and Piatek finding Serie A life difficult

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The early form of Genoa was one the biggest stories from Serie A in the opening weeks of the season, with Ivan Juric’s side a regular fixture in the top ten.

After the first seven games of the 2018-19 season, they were sitting in sixth, following  wins over Empoli, Bologna, Chievo and Frosinone.

Much of this positivity was down to the goal scoring exploits of 23 year old striker Krzysztof Piatek, who netted 12 goals in first eight games in Italian football.

Signed from Cracovia in the summer, he took Serie A by storm in the opening two months of the campaign, earning a call up, and a goal on his competitive debut with the Polish national team.

Continue reading

Looking back to how Cristiano Ronaldo emerged as a centre-forward at Real Madrid

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On the 4th January of 2016, a new era began at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Zinedine Zidane was announced as the new manager of Real Madrid on a two-and-a-half-year deal. The departure of Rafa Benitez was simply inevitable, as his short and unconvincing time at the club had to come to an end.

At the time of the announcement, there were a lot of mixed thoughts on the decision made by Los Blancos, with the majority being filled with excitement as the Frenchman aimed to extend his legacy at the club by bringing in success as a manager. However, the rest of the footballing world felt the appointment was a huge risk, with Zidane lacking managerial experience and tactical knowledge.

During his time as the coach of Real Madrid, Zidane went on to one La Liga title, three Champions League trophies and one Spanish Super Cup as well as a number of individual awards. The European dominance along with winning the club’s 33rd league title in 2017 would not have been possible had the coach kept Cristiano Ronaldo on the left flank instead of moving him up top as a lone forward.

Focusing more on Ronaldo, he first started to acknowledge this new role under Benitez, when Karim Benzema was suffering from a few injury issues. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner faced a number of problems whilst playing in this position, with the main one being the side was not built around him, and Benitez’s defensive style of play did not work well with Real Madrid’s free-flowing system.

On the other hand, once Zidane was introduced into the managerial picture, Ronaldo became the perfect number nine in Europe due to his movement on and off the ball and his pure instincts. The best example to show that he adjusted to a new approach and style is the 3-0 victory over rivals Atletico Madrid in November 2016, when his hat-trick summed up his growth as a centre forward.

The 4-4-2 diamond formation got the best out of both strikers in Benzema and Ronaldo, with the former playing as the deep-lying forward who would combine with the midfielders, whilst the latter would remain in the final third of the pitch and come up with the goods for when his side needed him the most. Overall, the improvements became evident as the trophies started to come in.

Ronaldo’s transition from being a dazzling winger to a dominant and ruthless forward became much easier, when Portugal coach Fernando Santos started playing him up front alongside either Ricardo Quaresma or Luis Nani. Playing in the same role as well as a similar formation at both club and international level has allowed the Madeira-born star to adapt and thrive within this new change.

It’s definitely not easy to pick out an international game that proved Portugal were on top of their game and the opposition. Though, the most recent and memorable competitive fixture that comes to mind is the World Cup match between Portugal and Spain, where Ronaldo’s incredible hat-trick allowed his team to pick up a vital point early in the tournament as they went past the group stages.

Throughout the closely-watched game, Portugal were defensively sound and composed to a certain level whilst Ronaldo’s influence on the pitch gave Santos’ men some hope that they would get something out of this match. In the end, the test of patience pulled through as Portugal earned themselves an invaluable point and Ronaldo went on to steal the headlines for the next few days.

Overall, it is fair to say that two to three managers have helped Ronaldo to become the centre-forward he is today. Although he is playing as a left-winger for Juventus at this moment of time, the Italian side will be relying on his individual brilliance in strike as the Serie A and Champions League campaign goes on, especially given that they are aiming to complete the treble this season.

Mauri to get the chance as Gattuso changes formation again

After their roller-coaster performance against Dudelange in the Europa League, AC Milan will hope to look a bit more convincing on Sunday, as they take on Parma in the early kick-off game. 

Following an impressive display against Lazio, given which players started in defence, it was expected that Gattuso would continue with three men at the back. However, according to the latest reports from Sky Italia, he will switch back to the 4-3-3, having already brought back the four-man backline against Dudelange.

With that said, it also means that the Rossoneri will have to play with three midfielders, which may seem like an odd choice from Gattuso considering the players at his disposal. If you watched the Dudelange game, though, you will know that Jose Mauri really impressed when coming on in the second half, and thus it is believed that he will start tomorrow.

Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing Simic from the first minute, even though he surpassed expectations against Dudelange. Instead, full-back Abate will slot in alongside Zapata, while Calabria will occupy the right-back spot. One could argue that if Mauri, who hasn’t played much more than Simic, gets the chance, then the Czech defender should also be in the running.

In any case, Milan will certainly have to perform better than against Dudelange. Sure, they won by five goals to two in the end, but the leading up to that wasn’t convincing at all. Against Lazio, we saw a completely different team, though this is probably because of yet another formation change. In other words, there has been a lack of consistency as of late, which is understandable given the number of injuries. However, moving forward, Gattuso will have to settle for one formation, in addition to a back-up.

Likely AC Milan XI vs. Parma (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Abate, Zapata, Rodriguez; Kessie, Mauri, Bakayoko; Suso, Cutrone, Calhanoglu.

Shifting focus to the Parma, who are sixth in the league, they will be a hard team to beat. This season, they have already won once at the San Siro, beating Inter by a scoreline of one goal to nil. In fact, Parma have alternated between a win and a defeat in their six away games this season, keeping only one clean sheet (you guessed it, at the San Siro against Inter).

However, if you look at stats, Milan have a clear advantage. The Rossoneri have scored at least two goals in eight of their last nine Serie A games against Parma (an average of 2.8 per game), while winning 13 of their last 16 games against the team in question at San Siro. With that said, knowing Milan, stats almost never matter and it’s certain that they will need to be at their best tomorrow.

After all, against a struggling defence, the likes of Gervinho and Inglese could cause some problems and possibly even get on the scoresheet. Given that Milan conceded two goals against Dudelange, this scenario is not unlikely, though Rossoneri fans will hope that the defence can play as against Lazio.

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AC Milan outcast Simic could start against Dudelange

Following Milan’s defence crisis, Gattuso has been forced to experiment in the last couple of games. Against Lazio, the Rossoneri kept a clean sheet for 94 minutes with a three-man defence, consisting of only one centre-back. However, tomorrow evening, we could be seeing two centre-backs on the pitch. 

In fact, as Milan will take on Luxembourg outsiders Dudelange, it is believed that Stefan Simic finally will get the chance from start, having failed to convince Gattuso ahead of the Lazio clash. In the gaffer’s defence, the 23-year-old hasn’t played any games since February. Continue reading