Juventus Week 26

Stats according to WhoScored.com

Shots: Juventus 17(5)-13(1) Inter

Possession: 54%-46%

Derby D’italia day in Italy and there were some concern early on that the game could be postponed once again, due to coronavirus concerns. However, Antonio Conte’s return to Torino ended up happening behind closed doors, as planned. It’s too bad the fans weren’t there today to roar the arena with boo’s at the former Juventus player and coach. We were stuck with an awkward atmosphere, leaving the teams on a level playing field. Juventus started the game without Dybala and Pjanic in the starting 11. Pjanic was the right decision, he hasn’t been in form and it doesn’t seem like he will find his stride soon. Bentancur took over as the Regista and did a fantastic job controlling the midfield opposite Inter’s Brozovic. This was a great game all together from Juventus Midfield, also consisting of Matuidi and Ramsey. There were a few chances in the first half, but it was mostly open back and forth play between the rivals. Samir Handanovic, returning to the lineup for the first time since early February, was able to keep Inter in the game with some key saves early on. Juventus were able to break through in the second half with goals from Ramsey in the 54′ and Dybala in the 67′, to finish with a 2-0 victory and all 3 points.
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Stars of the game

Aaron Ramsey was by far my man of the match. Rambo has been able to maintain his great form from his last couple matches and bump it up another notch here. He started the scoring with his goal in the 54′, putting it away from a scramble in front of the net. Ramsey later assisted Dybala with beautiful link up play and a wonderful finish from La Joya. I mentioned this last time but will say it again, Ramsey has found his position and is finally settling into the Juventus midfield. Sitting just right of the regista, he has been able to provide that connection of the midfield to the forwards with his playmaking and passing ability we have seen from his Arsenal days. Now, we just hope for good health for Rambo to maintain this form moving along in the season.
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My next star is a combo; the defensive duo of Matthijs de Ligt and Leo Bonucci. These two probably still have Lukaku and Lautaro in their back pockets. The Juventus defense put on a wonderful display today against their bitter rivals, only allowing one shot to get through to Szczesny. Sarri made the decision to continue with the pairing from their 1-0 defeat at Lyon in UCL. Giorgio Chiellini sat out for the match and it ended up being for the better. Inter were able to reach the final third without many issues, but started to face their problems trying to break through the back line. Hopefully de Ligt and Bonucci can use this performance as confidence with big matches coming up down the stretch.
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Other Thoughts

Ronaldo ended the game without a goal for the first time in 12 Serie A matches, leaving the record in a three-way tie at 11 matches. He came close a few times towards the end of the match, and should have finished with at least one to his name. There was another free kick opportunity that he belted straight into the wall again. I know I’m getting repetitive, but I will continue to say it; Dybala and Pjanic should be the only players over a spot kick near the goal. Ronaldo is so good at finding openings near the net for headers or tap-ins and that should remain his role for these opportunities.
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The midfield improved a lot from their last few matches. Matuidi, Bentancur, and Ramsey played off of each other very well against a strong Inter team. Although Rabiot seems to improve game by game, he needs to continue to get stronger to get a spot on this team. Let’s not get started on Pjanic’s problems this season. The right side duo of Douglas Costa and Juan Cuadrado showed to be dangerous in early parts in the game, but Juve were unable to capitalize on their chances. We should see more of them controlling that right side this season. Juventus currently sit in 1st in Serie A, 1 point above Lazio and 9 points above inter. It looks like Lazio will be the main concern for the title and not Inter after all.
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My Player Ratings

Szczesny-7
Sandro-7.5
Bonucci-8
de Ligt-8
Cuadrado-7.5
Bentancur-8
Ramsey-9
Matuidi-7
Costa-6.5
Ronaldo-6
Higuaín-7
>Dybala-8

Coronavirus Threatening the League?

Current rumors are saying Serie A and the players  association will be working towards a final decision on how to operate the remainder of the season. I see three possibilities and here they are from most to least likely; they play the remainder of the season without fans, shutdown and suspend the entire season, or pickup as usual after the 30 day period without fans is over. They are meeting to discuss the topic early this week, so we should have an answer soon. Mario Balotelli is among the names to endorse the shutdown of the league for the rest of the year. Super Mario was quoted saying, “Money isn’t worth our health, we have to wake up.” This statement is huge and there have been more players around the league in agreement with this. I am wishing the best for Italy and all countries affected by this, and can agree that health is much more important than sport.
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Bologna is scheduled to be the next match coming up on Friday the 13th. There is a possibility of more schedule changes here depending on this week’s league meeting. I would predict an easy 3 points for the bianconeri, but Sarri can make any easy match look difficult.  If the game is played as scheduled…
Here is my prediction for the starting 11:
Szczesny
Alex Sandro
Bonucci
Chiellini
Danilo
Bentancur
Ramsey
Rabiot
Cuadrado
Dybala
Ronaldo
Score Predicton
Juventus 3-1 Bologna
Written by: Michael “TFT Mike” Cooke (@Mike_cooke3)

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