Predicting How Well Italian Clubs Will Do in the Champions League This Season

For those who don’t know, this should turn out to be an exciting season for Serie A clubs in the Champions League!  It will make for an exciting season for calcio fans and hopefully, we’ll see all four Serie A clubs in the semifinals of the Champions League. However, based on my predictions for each of them, that’s unlikely. So, here is how I think the Serie A clubs will do in the Champions League this season!

   1. INTER MILAN 

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                              Image Credit: edition.cnn.com

Inter will be playing their first Champions League match this season against Slavia Prague today at 12:55 pm Eastern Time. When Inter fans and members of the club envisioned who would be in their group, no one anticipated that they’d be in the group of death. Indeed, Lionel Messi will return to the San Siro for the second consecutive year to face Inter. Inter is also joined by Borussia Dortmund and Slavia Prague in this group, making it very tough to get through to the round of 16. In all honesty, I predict that Inter will finish third in the group, as they will be with two clubs in Dortmund and Barcelona that are juggernauts in Europe and it may be too much for this Inter side. However, they could definitely surprise many people.

2. NAPOLI

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Image Credit: http://www.espn.com

While, Napoli were in a favorable position before the draw began, I don’t think they could’ve anticipated an easier group on paper than they’ve gotten. Make no mistake, no Champions League match is simple, but the group Napoli got dealt is one of the most simple they could’ve gotten. Yes, they’re with the 2019 Champions League winners, Liverpool. But, other than that, they’re with Genk and Red Bull Salzburg. Considering, Napoli’s group as well as the fact that they made some key signings over the summer in Hirving Lozano, Kostas Manolas, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t get in second place in the group and get through to the knockout phase of the competition. Their first match will be later today against Liverpool at 3 pm Eastern Time.

3. JUVENTUS

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                                  Image Credit: thenational.ae

Juventus shocked their fans with some of the moves they made in the summer. Many fans were left scratching their heads with some of those moves or lack of moves that weren’t made. However, that’s all behind us and the season has started. They’ve been drawn in a decent group with Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, and Lokomotiv Moscow. I predict that Juve should get through to the round of 16 in second in this group. However, the sky is the limit for this club if they play at their best. Not even the beasts at Atletico Madrid can stop them. Their first Champions League match will take place at 3 pm Eastern Time on Wednesday!

4. ATALANTA 

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                                Image Credit: acmilaninfo.com

Atalanta will make their first ever Champions League appearance on Wednesday at 3 pm Eastern time against Dinamo Zagreb. They got drawn into a group with Manchester City, Shakhtar donetsk, and Dinamo Zagreb. Based on their position heading into the draw, it was inevitable that they’d be drawn into a tough group. This will be a very tough group for Atalanta, but the good thing is they don’t have high expectations heading into this competition, so it might actually work in their favor. I predict that they’ll finish in second in their group behind Man City. I hope they demonstrate their quality in this group, as I feel their an underrated club coming into competition. They could very well make some noise this season.

I’ve predicted three out of the four Serie A clubs in the Champions League this season to qualify for the champions League round of 16. But, hopefully it’s all four clubs!

 

 

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Chiellini’s Injured, Now What?

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                                           Image Credit: bbc.co.uk

    Yesterday,  Juve were dealt a devastating blow, and no it wasn’t finding out their Champions League group. It was the announcement that their captain and star defender, Giorgio Chiellini, tore his ACL during training. This will have a huge impact on Juve’s squad and may hinder their performance as a whole. However, one of the questions to ask is whether Juventus can cope without him for so long, given their current squad.

   How Will Chiellini’s Absence Impact Juve’s Defense? 

    Chiellini’s absence from Juve’s squad will have a huge impact on them tactically and mentally. First of all, it’ll possess a huge impact on their ability to defend. Chiellini is a crucial player for Juve, not just because he reads the game so well or defends at a worldclass level. He is the only defender that Juve has that does not push so high up the pitch when they’re attacking. He rarely ever gets caught for being too high up the pitch and Juve needs that. This is because while Bonucci and De Ligt are both great defenders, they tend to like to get more involved with play high up the pitch, which leads to them being exposed on the counterattack. Also, it’s no secret that their abilities to defend don’t compare to Chiellini’s skills at this position. Another way Chiellini’s absence will affect Juve’s backline as well as the general squad is the leadership that will be missing when he’s gone. Chiellini is Mr. Juventus, as he’s been playing at the club since he was a child. He rose up through the youth ranks and is now a true leader that the bianconeri will miss on the pitch.

                                                Can Juve Cope With Chiellini’s Absence? 

    As a Juve fan, the thought of Bonucci being without Chiellini as his centreback partner scares me. Last time Chiellini was absent from the field, Bonucci led Juventus’s backline and they got eliminated by Ajax in the Champions League quarterfinals in 2019.  However, Juve did end up buying Ajax’s brightest young centreback, Matthijs De Ligt, during the summer. He will definitely help make up for that absence a little bit. However, without a defender like Chiellini, it’ll be almost impossible for them to win the Champions League this season. Without Chiellini, it’ll be tougher to cope in all three competitions that they’ll compete in this season. I hope it ends up working out for Juve.

I am really hoping that Chiellini will return during the season to help Juve win all the competitions their competing in. However, it’ll be a massive adjustment and Maurizio Sarri will need to get his squad to adapt if in fact, Chiellini will be out for as long as they say he’s out.

Previewing Juve VS. Napoli

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                                            Image Credit: http://www.skysports.com

   There will be two amazing matches this upcoming weekend in Italy. The first one wil be between Napoli and Juve and the second one will be between Lazio and Roma. These should be awesome matches. I will preview the match between Juve and Napoli in this blog post. Then, in another blog post that will come out on Sunday at 10am Eastern time, I will preview the Lazio vs. Roma match. Anyways, let’s get back to this blog post!

                    Previewing Juve Before This Match 

It’ll be interesting to see who Juve places on the field in this crucial match. Last match, they got the job done in Parma and won 1-0. However, in that match, many of the new signings did not see gametime, which I found to be a bit odd. I hope we see some of Juve’s new signings play in this thrilling match! However, Sarri will not be behind the bench once again on Saturday, as he’s battling pneumonia. Last match, Juve did play the Sarriball style that we’ve been accustomed to seeing with Sarri as the bench boss. However, in the second half, it seemed as though they were a bit fatigued. Luckily, they were able to hold off Parma. Against Napoli, I want to see Juve be smarter with their pressing. By that, I mean if their midfielders and forwards press Napoli’s defense, their backline shouldn’t be so high up the pitch. I noticed that against Parma, Juve looked vulnerable to fast counter-attacks because their defense moved too high up the pitch, making it easier for them to be suspect on the defensive end. I understand that pressing an opposition’s defense high up the pitch is the style Sarri likes to use with his squads, however, if the backline maintains such a high line, they will get burnt. Napoli is the type of club that can make you pay for mistakes like that.

    Previewing Napoli Before This Match 

   In Serie A’s first week, Napoli showed that they can score, as they got 4 goals on-route to a 4-3 win vs. Fiorentina. It was a tough stadium to play in for Napoli, as they had not won in that place for 5 years before last Saturday. However, they got the job done. Against Juve, I’m hoping their new signing, Hirving Lozano, gets some time to shine on the pitch. He should be fun to watch. Also, I’m wondering how Ancelotti will get his players to approach this game, as they’ll be away in Turin at one of the toughest stadiums to win at in Europe. One thing is for certain, their defense really needs to improve if they are to send a message to the bianconeri and get a good result. While, Napoli’s offense looked like they were top class last week, their defense looked like the complete opposite. But, if I were Ancelotti, I’d take a more cautious approach to this game than last week because you don’t want to be vulnerable at the back with names like Cristiano Ronaldo and Douglas Costa coming at your backline.

   One thing about this game is certain, it will be an intense match. Both Napoli and Juve will want to get off on the right foot at the beginning of the season because it only gets more difficult to get results as the season goes along.

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My Serie A Top 4 Favourites Before the End of the Summer Transfer Window

Original Image: http://www.agonasport.com

So far, this summer transfer window has been full of thrills and shocks, especially if you’re a fan of Serie A. I will predict my top 4 favorites to win the scudetto before the end of the summer transfer window. So, let’s begin!

4. AS ROMA

On the surface, this Roma side doesn’t look up to par, as they’ve already sold their best defender to Napoli, Kostas Manolas, so far. There are also rumors that Edin Dzeko will be leaving the eternal city as well. Also, don’t forget that the Roman Gladiator, Daniele De Rossi has left Roma as well. However, they just brought in young centreback, Gianluca Mancini. They are also on the verge of signing Jordan Veretout, who is a young midfielder that currently plays at Fiorentina. They’ve brought in a few other reinforcements as well. What will guide this club to a Champions League spot will primarily be because of their manger, Paulo Fonseca. He has a great track record in both Portugal and Ukraine, so expect him to continue that in the eternal city!

3. INTER

At this point last summer, Inter was going on a spending spree to try and gather reinforcements for the upcoming season. Many people including myself, thought they would contend for the Serie A title. However, it didn’t pan out that way and they barely qualified for this upcoming season’s Champions League. However, this summer they added a world-class manager in Antonio Conte, as well as bright young Italian midfielders in Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella. Considering, the squad at Inter’s disposal and their new manager, they will definitely give headaches to opposing clubs. If the top 2 favorites weren’t so good, Inter would truly challenge for the scudetto this upcoming season. Who knows, they may do that.

2. NAPOLI

Despite selling Jorginho last summer, Napoli were able to remain in second place and be Juve’s challenger to the Serie A throne. Now, Napoli’s defense has just become a brick wall, as they signed Kostas Manolas from Roma. Him and Koulibaly will probably be one of the best defensive duos in the world, next season. Napoli has also been able to keep their key players, which is a huge plus for them. Let’s not forget, they are rumored to be going after Mauro Icardi or James Rodriguez. Even, if Napoli don’t buy either of those players, they will still be a club to be reckoned with. It also helps that Carlo Ancelotti is their manager, as he is a tactical mastermind. With this current squad, they should be looking to contend on all fronts. Even, in the Champions League.

1.JUVENTUS

You’d think that it’d be easy to pick Juventus as being the Serie A favourite for this upcoming season. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Juve have made many signings in the summer so far, including young Dutch phenom, Matthijs De Ligt. He’ll definitely improve their squad. Juventus are also rumored to be going after other big fish in Mauro Icardi, Federico Chiesa, and Paul Pogba. Despite, all these new reinforcements, there is still a bit of doubt in my mind on whether Juve will win the Serie A title this upcoming season. My doubt stems from the fact that Juve’s new manager, Maurizio Sarri, has never managed a club with this squad and very high expectations. He is a manager that only likes to utilize 14-15 players out of a 23-man squad for an entire season. That worries me a bit because Juventus will be expected to win trophies on all fronts and if he thins his bench, players will have a lot of fatigue midway through the season, then there’s a possibility that Juventus may not win any trophy throughout the season. Maurizio Sarri will need to improve his squad management if Juve are to win the scudetto this upcoming season, as it will be the toughest title race in a while for them.

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3 Reasons Why Juventus Has a Good Chance of Winning the Champions League This Season

Juventus beat Atletico Madrid and got through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League on Tuesday, just in case you live under a rock. Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo got a hat trick and the whole squad was on point. Heading into this season, I believed that Juve were one of the top 3 favorites to win the Champions League. This belief has become more apparent, at least for me, after Tuesday’s amazing match. I will discuss 3 reasons why I believe Juve’s odds of winning the Champions League has increased ever since yesterday’s match.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

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Image Credit: https://www.marca.com/en/football/international-football/2019/03/13/5c883ea1ca47417e108b463a.html




I know this is obvious to many fans of footy, but the fact that Juve not only bought CR7 in the summer as well as him having had such a great match on Tuesday, demonstrates that this generational talent gives Juventus a greater chance than ever to win the Champions League this season. Cristiano Ronaldo at 34 years of age is still a defender’s worst nightmare, which helps Juve. Cristiano Ronaldo also possesses the right mentality to win this competition, as he has won it 5 times in his career. Don’t get me wrong, without Ronaldo, the bianconeri (Juventus) still possesses a squad that is very capable of winning the Champions League, but having someone like CR7 at your disposal adds that extra oomph to the squad.

2. Juventus’ Squad Depth

Ronaldo said after the game: 'This is why Juventus signed me'
Image Credit: https://www.skysports.com/football/juventus-vs-a-madrid/403928

Generally, in any winning squad, there is always one player that stands out above the rest. But, in order for that star to be at his/her best they need teammates that can support them. As we have seen in this match and in many others over the past few seasons, Juventus has boasted tremendous squad depth. Even yesterday, both Juan Cuadrado and Douglas Costa could not play in the match because of injuries. However, Juve has so much squad depth that replacing them with Bernardeschi on the right-wing was no big deal and actually, some would argue that Federico Bernadeschi was Juve’s best player on Tuesday. It’s not just upfront, though. At the left-back position, Leonardo Spinazzola played over their regular starter Alex Sandro and played stellar too. This squad depth, as was shown on Tuesday, will give Juventus a good chance of winning the Champions League this season.

3. Juventus’ Heart and Determination

Maybe, it’s Juve’s manager Massimiliano Allegri or the players themselves, but in the Champions League, this club seems to show heart and determination even if they get eliminated in the competition. It’s like the heart and determination lives in the bloodstreams of players who wear the white and black jersey. We’ve seen countless examples of how this club demonstrates plenty of heart and determination and this season is no different. Juventus seem to be the type of club that can bend easily, but is very difficult to break. This is as a result of the club’s mentality. This will definitely help guide Juventus to winning their first Champions League title since 1996. I am hoping, as are many other fans, that Juventus pulls it off this season. Let’s hope it happens!

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Will Allegri Leave Juventus After This Season Ends? If So, What Would Be His Ideal Destination?

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There has been many rumors swirling around the football world that Juventus’ Current Manager, Massimiliano Allegri, will leave Juventus at the end of the season. However, these rumors have been circulating for a couple of seasons now. As a Juventus fan, I’m pretty content with him staying as their manager.

WILL ALLEGRI ACTUALLY LEAVE JUVENTUS AT THE END OF THE SEASON?

For the past couple of seasons, I have doubted any claims that Massimiliano Allegri is leaving Juventus. I don’t know if that’s because I don’t mind him as being Juve’s manager or not. His trophy count for Juventus definitely helps his case, in my view. However, one competition that Juve has not won in a while is the dreaded Champions League. Whatever the reasons are for that, it will be interesting to see if that trophy will dictate whether Allegri leaves Juve or not. We all know that the Drake curse is the main reason. He shouldn’t have worn Juve’s pink shirt. But, in all seriousness, I believe that if Allegri leaves Juventus at end of this season it will be because he won the Champions League with the club. Other than that, I do not see what is holding him back from leaving Juve, as he has won everything else in Turin. If Juventus wins the Champions League trophy, look for Allegri at the airport in Turin a few days later.

WHICH CLUB WOULD BE IDEAL FOR ALLEGRI, IF HE LEAVES JUVE?

There is still a good possibility that Allegri remains at Juventus until the end of his contract in 2020. But, it is fun to think of which club he would be best suited for, if he were to leave Turin. My answer for this is Real Madrid. I know many people may think that right now Real Madrid is a manager’s graveyard currently, but it would be a perfect fit for Allegri. The main reason that I believe this is because while Real Madrid does not possess CR7 anymore, Allegri would be great at working with the talent that Real Madrid has at their disposal. Allegri is very good at scouting out other club’s weaknesses and getting players to buy in to his tactics for any match. Also, one thing Allegri would bring to Real Madrid is discipline. He has shown at Juventus that no matter who you are, you are no bigger than the club which could work for Real Madrid.

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Most Impressive Player and Club in the First Half of the Serie A Season

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Image Credit: http://www.juventus.fr/actualite/1/12476/LE-CALENDRIER-SERIE-A-2018-2019

This Serie A season has been a roller coaster thus far. I know that fans of other leagues say that this competition isn’t as fun to watch because Juventus wins the Scudetto year after year. However, they are so wrong. There has been a couple players and clubs that have stood out thus far. Although I will choose one of each. So, sit back, relax and enjoy.

MOST IMPRESSIVE CLUB SO FAR : JUVENTUS

If any of you reading this right now, follow my social media pages you’d know that I am a massive Juventus fan. However, as is often the case, I had to be objective. I know, it’s the dreaded 9-letter word when it comes to football fandom.

I must admit that there were two other clubs I was considering for this Calcio Fan Blog award, lol. But Juventus stood out for me. A massive reason in which they stood out in the first half of the season for me was, well, the number 0 in the l column. Indeed, they are undefeated. But, it doesn’t seems as though they’ve hit their full stride yet, which is impressive. The fact that they’ve been accumulating so many good results is amazing, considering how they haven’t looked great all season. That’s why they stood out. They are able to find results, despite the fact that their form isn’t great. If this club remains undefeated the whole season, they will definitely be the club I’m most impressed with at the end of the season. Move along, there is no bias here…………

MOST IMPRESSIVE PLAYER SO FAR: Krysztof Piatek

Image Credit: http://www.mediareferee.com

During the summer transfer window, Genoa had signed this player named Krysztof Piatek whom many people probably didn’t know of. Fast forward to now and he has 13 goals. Which is mind-boggling! He is one goal behind Cristiano Ronaldo for Serie A’s golden boot.

While, Serie A possesses the talent of CR7, Mauro Icardi, Paulo Dybala, and many others, no one expected that Piatek would be this good. When Genoa’s scouts picked spotted this player and chose to sign him, they were smart in doing that. He has played amazing so far and is only 23, which makes him even more fascinating. All I will say to Genoa is good luck attempting to keep him, as you’d expect many clubs to come for him in the current January transfer window as well as the Summer one. Piatek is one for the now, as opposed to the future and if he keeps impressing me, it will tough for me not to be so fascinated in the player.

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