Juventus Top Performers – UCL Quarterfinals Return Leg

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Juventus disappeared in the second half and got played off the park by the hipster Ajax, once again ending the European campaign in bitter fashion.

Wojciech Szczesny: he kept the Bianconeri from drowning even earlier after intermission with two stunning saves, firstly on a one-on-one with Hakim Ziyech, where he stayed up until the very last possible moment and perfectly stabbed his arm out, then a great dive to pull a Donny Van De Beek curled shot out of the top drawer. An outstanding bulwark, but ultimately the goalie can do only so much when the opponents create so many chances and the two goals where a bit random and uncatchable. It is hard not to get bamboozled from Ajax’s quick passing game in narrow spaces and while the back-line obviously struggled as a whole, no defenders had blatant mistakes and mostly paid the price for the squad being unable to control the ball and the rhythm. They got run over by a much more energetic side. 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

Cagliari game fallout, Mandzukic renews and Szczesny speaks

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The events during the Cagliari game had a big echo throughout the football worlds, with few players coming in the support of Moise Kean and scolding Leonardo Bonucci, who said that the starlet shared some of the blame for his celebration. The centre-back then backtracked on an Instagram post. The sports judge will issue his ruling on Friday, but today’s Gazzetta dello Sport anticipates that the Sardinia Arena will not be disqualified and that Cagliari will get away with a fine. The federal inspectors noted the racist chants only after the goal and deemed them as a reaction to a provocation, even though some videos evidenced that some slurs preceded it. Furthermore, they said their was contained to 40-50 people, which caps the punishment according to the rules. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 29

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Wojciech Szczesny: the Juventus back-line has not been super robust in the last few games, so they will be looking to course correct against Empoli, which have had troubles producing on the road.

Jens Larsen: Udinese could benefit from the new coach’s bump against Genoa, which is not a particularly productive side anyway, while the Zebrette posted okay numbers at home. The fullback has often been able to pick up bonus points at the Friuli stadium. Continue reading

Ranking the ten best keepers in Serie A this season

 

Here‘s a ranking of the ten best keepers in Serie A this season- the criteria is strictly performances in league play, not reputation nor ability

 

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Gigio Donnarumma

When you consider how long he has been in our lives, it’s hard to believe that Milan’s keeper is just twenty years old. After a very tumultuous season following a very acrimonious negotiation for his contract extension. Donnarumma has fully rebounded and is now the gold standard at the position in Serie A especially when you consider his improvements with ball distribution.

Along with Romagnoli, Donnarumma is the main reason Milan’s defense has been the best in Serie A in 2019. In addition to his performances for the rossoneri, Donnarumma has fully established himself as the heir to Gigi Buffon on the Azzurri- no easy feat.

ACF Fiorentina v Torino FC - Serie A

 

Salvatore Sirigu

The former Paris St Germain keeper broke Torino’s record for longest streak without conceding a goal, a very impressive achievement if you know about Torino’s history. While it’s easier to get excited for younger keepers and Sirigu doesn’t get much attention because Torino isn’t a sexy team like Atalanta or even Sampdoria, he has consistently been in conversation for best keeper in Serie A performance wise even before his impressive recent streak.

 

Alessio Cragno

Cagliari’s keeper has been a staple of the Italian national’s team youth teams in recent years despite facing significant competition at his position and in his second season as a full time starter in Serie A, he has more than lived up to the hype.

What Cragno may lack in height (at least compared to the other top keepers in the league) he more than makes up with his reflexes and positioning- because of his body type and ability, he has been compared to former Juventus keeper Angelo Peruzzi. Cragno is ready to take the next step at a big club and could be a target for both Roma where he could be an immediate starter next season and Inter where he could be more of a long term replacement for Handanovic.

 

Emil Audero 

After making name for himself at Venezia in Serie B last season, the former Juventus youth team product has excelled at Sampdoria after replacing veteran Emiliano Viviano. Audero’s performances for Marco Giampaolo’s side have already caught the eye of Arsenal, who have scouted him multiple times after hitting a homerun with Lucas Torreira who arrived to London from Sampdoria.

While a lot was made about Ferrero’s club spending twenty million euro to acquire him on a permanent basis from Juventus last week, anyone who watched him regularly is much less outraged than say the fees paid for Sturaro and Cerri- considering Audero’s age and ability, he could be sold for a considerably amount in the near future.

 

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Woj Szczesny

It might surprise those who mainly know him from his time at Arsensal, but there’s no doubt the Polish international has been one of the best keepers in Italy the past four years. The main reason he isn’t higher in this ranking is that this specific season his best performances have come in the Champions League, but he has erased any doubt he’s a worthy heir to Buffon at Juventus and he has decisively won his current competition with newly acquired Mattia Perin.

 

Luigi Sepe

 

After appearing in just one Serie A match the past three seasons, the former Napoli keeper has exceled at Parma. Sepe is a bit of a late bloomer since he’ll turn 28 at the beginning of May, but his performances for D’Aversa’s side have been as impactful of Gervinho and as a result he’s ready to be a starter for years to come.

 

Samir Handanovic 

 

After years of being underrated (at least outside of Serie A) mainly because he had never played in the Champions League or the starter on a high profile national team, maybe I’m taking Inter’s new captain for granted with this rating. But Handanovic has continued to be the definition of a feast or famine keeper, he can make saves that maybe no one else on the list can get to but is also the leader of mistakes that are reminiscent of when the battery of the controller on your PS4 runs out of juice mid game.

 

Alex Meret 

Napoli’s keeper would certainly be either third or fourth on this list had he not missed so many games to start the season because of a shoulder injury. Ancelotti has rightfully been cautious since he returned by rotating him with Ospina, but despite not playing in every match, the former Udinese keeper has shown why Italy’s Under 19 goalkeeper coach Ferron once said he considers Meret just as good a prospect as Donnarumma. Meret was  picked to replace Pepe Reina at Napoli also because of his ball distribution skills and so far has shown he’ll be a much better shot stopper than his predecessor in the near future (if he isn’t already).

Stefano Sorrentino

Chievo maybe dead last in the standings but that is certainly not because of the performances of their soon to be 40 year old keeper. Sorrentino was the first keeper to stop one of Ronaldo’s penalties and will certainly be able to find a job in Serie A next season should he decide to keep playing.

 

Alban Lafont

Those who only know the French keeper from FIFA must be surprised to see him ranked this low, but while Lafont has certainly made many numerous spectacular saves since arriving in Tuscany, he has also shown some significant limitations in every aspect of his role outside of shot stopping (he’s essentially the French Mattia Perin). But considering his young age and physical tools we can expect him to improve significantly next season.

 

 

Simeone and Allegri fined, Juventus roster value and Szczesny speaks

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Diego Simeone and Massimiliano Allegri were investigated by UEFA after the first match between Juventus and Atletico Madrid, but both avoided a touchline ban and got away with a fine. El Cholo will pay €20k for the obscene celebration, the Italian coach €30k for delaying the start of the second half.

The CIES Football Observatory compiled a chart of the most expensive rosters in the top 5 leagues based on the transfer market value of the players, alongside a comparison with the sum spent to buy them. Manchester City tops the standings with a €1.45B estimated value, followed by Liverpool (€1.38B), Barcelona (€1.2B), Tottenham and Manchester United (€1B). Juventus comes next, in sixth position, just below the €1B mark. The Bianconeri invested just below €500M for the current roster, which is now worth €924M. The second Serie A team is Napoli with a €635M value (€276 spent). Continue reading

Injury updates and Romero talks potential Juventus move

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Cristiano Ronaldo was limited in training yesterday due to a knock on the ankle he got in the Bologna game. The initial tests revealed no structural damage and he was able to practice fully today, so, barring a precautionary measure, he will be good to go against Napoli. Douglas Costa is currently not expected to come back this week as he is dealing with a bruised calf on top of a quad hematoma he has not been able to absorb. According to Tuttosport, Juventus could get some positive news from Sami Khedira, who has stayed in Germany after the heart procedure, but will soon come back in Turin for a new round of examinations and is hoping to be cleared sooner than the announced one-month timetable. Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – UCL Round of 16 – First Leg

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Juventus could not rise to the occasion against Atletico Madrid, got pushed around and pinned back by the opponents in the second half and now find themselves in a nearly insurmountable hole ahead of the second leg. Here are the best performers from a rough night at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

Wojciech Szczesny: two solid saves by the goalkeeper, one on a strike from distance by Thomas and the other on Antoine Griezmann’s wicked free kick from the edge of the box, and a superb one of the Griezmann/Mattia De Sciglio’s lob in the second half, where he just managed to tip the ball on the crossbar. Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Round 23

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As it is often the case, Juventus roared back after two stumbles, escaped the first wild 15 minutes and then proceeded to cruise to victory, re-sending Napoli back to -11 in the standings.

Mattia De Sciglio (5 points): the spot would have gone to Wojciech Szczesny if it was not for that botched unnecessary deep clearance in the second half that rattled the fans’ coronary arteries. However, he did keep thing from unraveling right away with a daredevil coming out on Filip Djuricic, where he took and won the gamble, and then brilliantly saved an attempt from downtown by Manuel Locatelli. Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Round 21

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A very sloppy and uninspired Juventus still managed to come away with a win against Lazio despite being severely outplayed for the first hour of the game. Here are the top performers in each position.

Joao Cancelo (4 points): undoubtedly the man of the match for the Bianconeri. He put his fingertips all over both goals, slotting the first home on a rebound and drawing a penalty with a terrific cut. He was deployed as right winger when the Old Lady was looking to push and the move could have looked like a head-scratched, but that position simply unleashed all his offensive prowess and he looked like consummate attacker in both the key actions. Continue reading