Juve Need To ‘Lighten Up’ In Champions League Quest, Says Sarri

Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) throws the ball in next to Juventus’ Italian coach Maurizio Sarri during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Spal on September 28, 2019 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. Andreas SOLARO / AFP

 

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri believes his side need to enjoy themselves more if they are going to have any chance of ending their 24-year wait for the Champions League trophy.

The 60-year-old Sarri will oversee his first Champions League match at home in the Allianz Stadium on Tuesday.

Juventus host Bayer Leverkusen in their second Group D clash, having being held 2-2 at Atletico Madrid in their opener.

“The Champions League is really the top for a player and coach, but at the same time we should also have fun,” Sarri told a pre-match press conference in Turin.

“At the moment it’s difficult for Italian teams to be among the favourites. English teams are favourites for obvious reasons but we should be easier on ourselves.

“The idea is to really cheer up a little bit.

“Our goal is to go all the way until the Champions League final but it’s a competition that can only be determined in certain moments.

“I’m expecting a good result tomorrow.”

 Dangerous Leverkusen 

The eight-time reigning Italian champions are unbeaten so far this season.

They are up against a Bayer Leverkusen, who finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season, and are sixth this term.

The Germans slumped to a surprise 2-1 defeat at home against Lokomotiv Moscow in their opener.

Leverkusen won 3-1 the last time the two teams met in 2001-02, when the Germans reached the final.

Sarri said he would make his team selection after training on Monday, deciding who would play up front alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Playing Ronaldo, (Paulo) Dybala and (Gonzalo) Higuain all together from the start is a fascinating suggestion, but we are not ready yet for the level of balance required,” said Sarri.

“For now we could only try this solution for parts of the match.”

Leverkusen’s danger man could be 20-year-old German midfielder Kai Havertz, a player Sarri tipped to “become one of the most important players in Europe”.

“Over the last three matches we have definitely improved from all points of view,” said the former Chelsea coach.

“The last matches we had 21 balls that could turn into goals and we need to be more aggressive in the opponents’ area.”

Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic said the team were learning to understand Sarri’s strategy.

“A lot has changed,” said Pjanic.

“Everything can’t be perfect after just one month, there’s room from improvement.

“My playing style under (Massimiliano) Allegri was very different.

“I have more space and more freedom on the pitch.”

In the other game in Group D, Lokomotiv host Atletico Madrid in Moscow.

AFP

Italy Arrests Leaders Of Juventus Hardline Ultra Fans

Italian police on Monday arrested 12 leading Juventus hardline fans as part of a major investigation into violence and extortion linked to match ticket sales.

The suspects are accused of criminal association, aggravated extortion, money laundering and violence, police said.

The arrests were the culmination of a year-long probe centred on the alleged blackmail of ticketing officials by the “ultras”, who wanted cut-price blocks of tickets they could sell to fellow fans.

They reportedly began threatening to sing racist chants during matches — which would lead to the club being hit with fines and possibly having points deducted — after Juventus stopped distributing blocks of tickets for resale in 2017, Italian media said.

Police said the hardcore groups had set up a “widespread criminal strategy to ‘restore’ lost favours”.

Those arrested included the heads of the Drughi, Tradizione-Antichi Valori, Viking, Nucleo 1985 and Quelli … di via Filadelfia groups, police said in a statement.

Officers were carrying out 39 search warrants targeting those arrested and other suspects, with the help of police from cities across northern and central Italy, from Alessandria to Bergamo, Florence, Genoa, and Milan.

AFP

New Signing Felix Shines As Atletico Beat Juventus

Atletico Madrid’s forward Joao Felix (C) shoots to score past Juventus’ goalkeeper Wojciech Tomasz Szczesny during the International Champions Cup football match between Atletico Madrid v Juventus on August 10, 2019 in Solna outside Stockholm, Sweden. Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

 

Summer arrival Joao Felix scored twice as Atletico Madrid beat Serie A winners Juventus 2-1 in a pre-season friendly on Saturday.

Forward Felix, 19, who cost the Spanish club 126 million euros ($142 million) in July and was bought to fill the void left by the departure of World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann, netted either side of Sami Khedira’s equaliser on 29 minutes.

READ ALSO: Arsenal’s Ozil, Kolasinac To Miss Newcastle Game After Knife Attack

Brazilian right-back Danilo, who joined Juve on Wednesday, came off the bench to make his debut.

Two of Maurizio Sarri’s other summer signings in Adrien Rabiot and Matthijs de Ligt started the fixture in Stockholm as did Cristiano Ronaldo but former Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey remains sidelined with a thigh issue.

Juve begin their Scudetto title defence at Parma on August 24 and Atleti start their La Liga campaign next Sunday at home to Getafe.

AFP

Tottenham, Arsenal To Splash Cash On Premier League Deadline Day

 

 

Tottenham made the headlines on a busy final day of the Premier League transfer window with deals in the pipeline for Giovani lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon, but their hopes of signing Paulo Dybala are fading.

Across north London, Arsenal are expected to complete moves for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney and centre-back David Luiz from Chelsea.

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku’s prolonged transfer to Inter Milan is also close to completion after the clubs reportedly agreed on a deal that could rise to 80 million euros (£74 million, $90 million).

Lukaku arrived in Milan early on Thursday, leaving United facing a race against time to find a replacement despite interest in Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic.

READ ALSO: Lukaku In Milan Ahead Of Probable Inter Move

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has been under pressure from manager Mauricio Pochettino to build on the progress made on and off the field as Tottenham moved into a new 62,000-capacity stadium and reached the Champions League final last season.

They have made just one summer signing so far, with French international midfielder Tanguy Ndombele joining for a club-record fee from Lyon, but all that is set to change in the final hours of the window.

Argentine international midfielder Lo Celso is expected to complete a season-long loan deal that will contain an obligation on Tottenham’s part to make the transfer permanent next summer.

And Spurs’ long-running interest in England under-21 international Sessegnon will be realised in a reported £25 million deal that could rise to £30 million including add-ons.

Dybala no-go

However, a sensational swoop for Dybala has reportedly broken down, with Juventus unwilling to let the Argentine leave without an adequate replacement, having missed out on Lukaku.

Arsenal are badly in need of defensive recruits to shore up a backline that conceded 51 Premier League goals last season to miss out on Champions League football for a third straight year.

Tierney travelled to London on Wednesday after the payment structure of a £25-million move from Celtic was finally agreed between the clubs.

Luiz is also set for a switch across London to replace departed Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny, who joined Bordeaux earlier this week, in a £8 million transfer from Chelsea.

No more business is expected at Premier League champions Manchester City after they secured right-back Joao Cancelo from Juventus on Wednesday.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed the European champions would not delve into the market at the last minute after making just three low-key additions in teenagers Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott and back-up goalkeeper Adrian.

By contrast, Merseyside neighbours Everton are hoping to complete a host of last-minute deals to add to six arrivals already at Goodison Park during the window.

Everton are hopeful of taking Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo on loan and could still land Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha after the Ivorian submitted a transfer request and did not train with the Eagles on Thursday.

Leicester are also set to use some of the £80 million they received from Manchester United for Harry Maguire on Sampdoria midfielder Dennis Praet for 20 million euros.

AFP

Moise Kean Pens Five-Year Contract With Everton

Juventus’ Italian striker Moise Kean shoots at goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match against Ajax Amsterdam at the Juventus stadium in Turin. Isabella BONOTTO / AFP

 

Everton have signed teenage Italy striker Moise Kean from Juventus on a five-year deal.

The Italian champions said the fee was an initial 27.5 million euros ($31m, £25m) but could rise by a further 2.5 million euros if certain conditions were met.

The 19-year-old Italy forward is Everton’s fifth signing of the transfer window after midfielders Andre Gomes, Fabian Delph, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and goalkeeper Jonas Lossl.

Kean scored six goals in 13 appearances in helping Juventus claim last term’s Serie A title, having made his club debut as a 16-year-old.

READ ALSO: James Stars As United Beat Milan

He was subjected to racist abuse during Juventus’s 2-0 win at Cagliari in April, holding his arms aloft after scoring.

“I am very proud and honoured to wear the Everton shirt — I will give my best to this team,” said Kean. “I was convinced to sign because Everton is a club looking to the future and so am I.”

Everton manager Marco Silva said: “A striker was one of our priority signings this summer.

“Moise is strong, fast, with many good qualities as a striker and he is just 19 years old. He has talent and he is ready to work, ready to improve our squad and gives us different solutions.”

Everton, who finished eighth in the Premier League last season, open their new campaign away to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

AFP

Ex-Man United Player Patrice Evra Announces Retirement

In this file photo taken on August 23, 2017 then Marseille’s defender Patrice Evra holds a press conference at the Velodrome Stadium in Marseille.  PHOTO: BORIS HORVAT / AFP

 

Former France and Manchester United defender Patrice Evra has called time on his playing career, according to the Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport.

“My career as a player is officially over,” the 38-year-old told the paper.

Evra made his name with Nice and Monaco before Alex Ferguson signed him for Manchester United in 2006. He would go on to make almost 300 appearances for the club, winning five Premier League titles and the Champions Leage.

He moved to Juventus in 2014, winning two Serie A titles, before spells at Marseille and West Ham.

He also played 81 times for France and captained them at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa which became famous for the French team strike at Knysna as they were eliminated in the group stages.

Evra said that he was now turning his attention fully to coaching.

“I started the course for the UEFA B licence as a coach in 2013,” he said. “Now, I want to finish that so that I can take the A licence. In other words, in a year and a half I will be qualified to manage a team.”

Evra was quick to praise the influence of his former Manchester United boss.

“He predicted that two of his players would become top level coaches: Ryan Giggs and Pat Evra,” he said naming himself in the third person.

“I think of Sir Alex as a father. He accepted me just as I am, sometimes a leader, sometimes arrogant.”

AFP

Juventus Signs Sarri On Three-Year Contract

Chelsea’s Italian head coach Maurizio Sarri
Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Maurizio Sarri was named new coach of Juventus on Sunday after his exit from Chelsea following a troubled single campaign in London was confirmed by both clubs.

Sarri returns to Italy on a three-year deal just a season after leaving Napoli for Stamford Bridge, where he failed to garner fan support despite winning the Europa League and returning the Blues to the Champions League thanks to a third-place finish in the Premier League.

“Maurizio Sarri has returned to Italy, where he has coached for the majority of his career. And from today, he will take over the reins at Juventus with a contract until June 30, 2022,” Juventus said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Pogba Looking For New Challenge Away From Man Utd

The Europa League win last month was Sarri’s first major trophy as a coach, but he will be expected to deliver far more in Turin.

Juventus have won Serie A for the past eight seasons, denying Sarri’s former club Napoli in the process.

However, Massimiliano Allegri left at the end of the campaign after failing to guide the Italian giants to Champions League glory despite the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo last year.

With Ronaldo now 34, winning the Italian giants’ first Champions League title since 1996 will be Sarri’s top priority.

Chelsea, meanwhile, must now turn their attention to hiring an 11th permanent manager of Roman Abramovich’s reign in charge of the club.

“In talks, we had following the Europa League final, Maurizio made it clear how strongly he desired to return to his native country, explaining that his reasons for wanting to return to work in Italy were significant,” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said in a statement.

Chelsea are expected to try and lure the club’s record goalscorer Frank Lampard back to Stamford Bridge.

Lampard has had just one full season in club management at Derby County, who he led to the final of the Championship playoffs.

Inzaghi Renews Lazio Contract Amid Juve Rumour

Simone Inzaghi, head coach of SS Lazio, before the Serie A football match between Torino FC and SS Lazio at Olympic Grande Torino Stadium on May 25, 2019 in Turin, Italy. Credit: Massimiliano Ferraro/NurPhoto)

 

Simone Inzaghi has extended his contract as coach with Lazio until 2021, the Serie A club confirmed on Thursday.

“The decision to continue this journey together is the result of shared planning, strengthens the bond between the two parties and confirms the unity of intent needed to achieve our sporting objectives,” the team said in a statement.

Inzaghi, who played as a striker for 11 years with Lazio and won the club’s last Serie A title in 2000, took over as coach in 2016.

The 43-year-old won his first major trophy as a coach in this year’s Coppa Italia and had been linked to the vacant coaching positions at champions Juventus and AC Milan.

Lazio finished eighth in Serie A this season but qualified for the Europa League as Coppa Italia winners.

AFP

Allegri To Leave Juventus At End Of Season

 

Massimiliano Allegri will not coach Serie A giants Juventus next season, the club said on Friday.

“Massimiliano Allegri will not be on the Juventus bench for the 2019/2020 season,” the club said in a statement.

Juventus have already wrapped up their eighth consecutive title, and Allegri’s fifth in as many years since replacing Antonio Conte in 2014.

Allegri Denies Juventus Exit Rumours

Juventus’ Italian coach Massimiliano Allegri gestures during the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Torino on May 3, 2019, at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.
MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri on Saturday dismissed talk he is about to quit the Serie A champions, hitting back at the criticism he received following his side’s Champions League quarter-final exit at the hands of Ajax.

“Sometimes I wonder if I hadn’t managed to bring home some trophies in these years, what would have happened?” asked the 51-year-old, who recently won his fifth league title in as many years.

“Maybe they would have impaled me and burnt me at the stake.”

Allegri, speaking ahead of his side’s Serie A trip to Roma on Sunday, said he was due to meet with club chairman Andrea Agnelli to discuss his plans for next season.

“I have already told the chairman that I would like to stay, but now we need to talk,” he said.

“I have had the new Juventus in mind for six months, but first I need to meet Agnelli to see if we agree.”

READ ALSO: Herrera Confirms Man United Exit

Juventus, who were also booted out of the Coppa Italia by Atalanta, have been linked with the return of Allegri’s predecessor Antonio Conte, who won the first three of their current run of eight titles in a row.

Other names reported in Italian media include Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi, Champions League finalist Mauricio Pochettino and France coach Didier Deschamps.

“Rumours about my successors are part of the game,” said Allegri, who also won the league with AC Milan in 2011.

“I am grateful to the chairman and he also said he wanted to continue with me.

“I told him before Ajax that I would stay. I owe him and club.”

AFP

Double Celebration As Juventus Win Both Women’s And Men’s Serie A Titles

Juventus fans celebrate in downtown Turin after Juventus secured its 8th consecutive Italian 2018/19 “Scudetto” Serie A championship.  Marco Bertorello / AFP

 

There were double celebrations in Turin as Juventus women beat Verona 3-0 to retain their Serie A title on the same day that the men extended their domination with an eighth consecutive championship triumph.

English forward Eniola Aluko scored the third goal after 68 minutes in Verona after Sweden’s Petronella Ekroth (33) and Cristiana Girelli (56).

It is the first title for 102-times capped Aluko in Italy since joining Juventus in June 2018 having won three with Chelsea in England.

Juventus won the title one point ahead of second-placed Fiorentina.

“The emotions are indescribable, to achieve this for the second time is something extraordinary,” said Juventus women’s coach Rita Guarino.

 

Juventus Win Eighth Consecutive Serie A Title

Juventus’ forward Cristiano Ronaldo (C-L) celebrates with teammates after Fiorentina scored an own goal following his shot during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Fiorentina on April 20, 2019 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. Marco Bertorello / AFP

 

Juventus claimed their eighth consecutive Serie A title on Saturday with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Fiorentina.

Alex Sandro’s diving header after 37 minutes and an own goal from Fiorentina defender German Pezzella after a Cristiano Ronaldo cross on 53 minutes sealed a 35th Scudetto.

Serbian defender Nikola Milenkovic had put Fiorentina ahead after six minutes.

Juventus are 20 points clear of nearest rivals Napoli with just five games to play.

READ ALSO: Nadal Crashes Out To Fognini In Monte Carlo Semi-Finals

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo said he was “1,000 per cent committed to staying” with Juventus next season as he claimed his first Serie A title and Juventus their eighth in a row on Saturday.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side had needed just one more point for a 35th Scudetto and their latest title triumph helped ease some of the pain of their shock Champions League exit at the Juventus Stadium to Ajax on Tuesday.

And a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Fiorentina was enough to give them a 20-point lead on nearest rivals Napoli with five games to play.

Serbian defender Nikola Milenkovic put Fiorentina ahead after less than six minutes.

But Alex Sandro’s diving header on 37 minutes and an own goal from Fiorentina defender German Pezzella after a Ronaldo cross in the 53rd minute sealed another title to ease their European disappointment.

“It was a great season and I adapted well. We won the Scudetto and the Italian Super Cup, which is not easy to achieve,” said Ronaldo.

“It didn’t go well in the Champions League but next year it will be better.

“I’m staying at Juve, 1,000 per cent.”

It was the 34-year-old’s sixth domestic league title, having won three with Manchester United and two with Real Madrid.

The Portuguese star now has 28 trophies in total, including the Euro 2016 title with Portugal.

Bolstered by five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo, Juventus dominated the domestic league with the best attack and defence.

He has scored 19 goals and had six decisive crosses, and is in the running for the top scorer award along with Sampdoria’s Fabio Quagliarella, who has 22 goals and AC Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek on 21.

Juventus have lost only two matches, against Genoa and SPAL, with 28 wins and three draws.

Their eight straight title sees them overtake French club Lyon for the record of consecutive victories in the top five European leagues.

Juventus also equalled the record for the earliest the Italian title has been won, with five games to spare, achieved by Torino in 1948, Fiorentina in 1956 and Inter Milan in 2007.

Juventus succeeded despite having been hit hard by injuries with defender Giorgio Chiellini out along with Sami Khedira, Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa.

Ronaldo threatened early, but defender Milenkovic gave Fiorentina hope of a first win in eight trips to the Allianz Stadium.

Giovanni Simeone had the ball in the back of the net on 25 minutes but the goal was ruled offside, before Sandro got his head to Miralem Pjanic’s corner to pull the teams level before the break.

Ronaldo pushed forward after the break, crossing for Federico Bernardeschi, but Pezzella clumsily turned into his own net.

Allegri brought on teenage star Moise Kean in place of Bernardeschi on 74 minutes, but the 19-year-old could not add to his six goals in his previous six appearances.

Meanwhile, Juventus remain on track to match the record 102 points achieved under Antonio Conte in 2014.

AFP