Juventus To Snatch Coutinho Transfer From Barcelona

Juventus are sensationally jumping into the battle for Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho.

The subject of intense interest from Barcelona, PSG and Real Madrid ahead of the January market, Coutinho is now being offered a return to Italy.

Juve, reports Don Balon, want to being the former Inter Milan midfielder back to Serie A – and are prepared to outbid all rivals for the Brazil international.

Less than 18 months after paying over €90m to land Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli, Juve are now prepared to pay a stunning €175 MILLION to convince Liverpool to sell Coutinho.

Juve recognise their midfield needs renewing and are prepared to build their system around Coutinho.

The offer is far superior to what Barca are willing to offer – a €140m proposal, though with €80m up front and the remainder dependent on bonuses.

 

 

Source: Barcalens

Juventus Vigilant As Rivals bare Series-A Ambitions

Juventus’ Serie A season starts on the back of an apology from striker Gonzalo Higuain, and coach Massimiliano Allegri warning of obstacles as they face a potentially tougher title defence.

“We’re not in top form yet but we have to be ready because the new championship is about to start and we can’t afford to make any more slip-ups,” Allegri said following a shock 3-2 loss to Lazio in the Italian Super Cup final.

Barely three months after a chastening 4-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final capped a record third consecutive double-winning season, Juventus host Cagliari in a championship-opening clash hoping it will lead them to a record-stretching seventh straight scudetto.

But last week’s reverse — which prompted out-of-sorts Higuain to post an apology to fans on Twitter — is being seen as a portent that “unstoppable” Juve are finally ready to be toppled.

Despite Roma finishing only four points behind in runners-up spot last term, resurgent AC Milan could claim to be front of the queue.

Amid a busy summer spending spree that has yet to end, the seven-time European champions struck a major blow by luring highly-experienced Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci to the club.

The capture of Porto starlet Andre Silva, Ivorian striker Franck Kessie (Atalanta) and, possibly, Fiorentina marksman Nikola Kalinic in the coming days, means Vincenzo Montella’s men can start dreaming of challenging for a first title since Allegri led them to the 2011 scudetto.

While Higuain’s record move from Napoli to Juventus was the transfer saga of last summer, Bonucci’s shock switch to Milan on a five-year deal has rekindled memories of Italy great Andrea Pirlo’s move the other way — from Milan to Juventus — in 2011, before his decision to quit the club in 2015.

‘Ambitious’
And like Pirlo, Bonucci, who immediately took over the captain’s armband from midfielder Riccardo Montolivo, wants to make a lasting impact.

“I’m ready for the season and as ambitious as ever. I’ll give everything for Milan, and more,” said Bonucci, who will face Juventus for the first time as a Milan player at the San Siro on October 29.

“My objective is to help Milan back to the summit of world football. I chose this club to start afresh. I’m here to win trophies.”

Milan are already being touted as Juve’s biggest challengers, but cross-town rivals Inter would be quick to temper Rossoneri enthusiasm.

Following their own impressive spending spree last summer, the Nerazzurri ultimately flattered to deceive, going through three coaches, and a number of internal crises before failing to qualify for Europe.

Now with former Roma coach Luciano Spalletti at the helm, Inter aficionados are dreaming big again following an encouraging pre-season period that brought seven wins and a draw including friendly victories over Lyon, Chelsea, and Bayern Munich.

Roma, Juve’s closest challengers in recent seasons, will look for an early season filip away to Atalanta on Sunday but the pressure is already on as fans prepare for life without Spalletti, and club legend Francesco Totti.

While Totti’s number 10 jersey was recently flown into space to mark the end of his 24-year spell with the club at the end of last season, more earthly matters are concerning the Giallorossi’s long-suffering fans.

A pre-season punctuated by a 4-1 loss to Spanish side Celta Vigo, the club’s failure to sign replacements for Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) and Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea) and doubts over new coach Eusebio Di Francesco has been among fans’ concerns in recent weeks.

Elsewhere, Serie A debutants Benevento kick off their dream promotion to Italy’s top flight away to Sampdoria, with fellow promotees Spal and Verona away to Lazio and at home to Napoli respectively.

Fixtures

Saturday

Juventus v Cagliari (1600 GMT), Verona v Napoli (1845)

Sunday

Atalanta v Roma (1600), Bologna v Torino, Crotone v AC Milan, Inter Milan v Fiorentina, Lazio v SPAL, Sampdoria v Benevento, Sassuolo v Genoa, Udinese v Chievo (all 1845)

 

Juventus To Advance To Champions League Final As They Beat Monaco

Juventus of Italy on Tuesday qualified for their second UEFA Champions League final match in three seasons with a comfortable 4-1 aggregate victory over Monaco.

Already leading 2-0 from their away first leg, the Italian side extended their advantage when Mario Mandzukic stabbed in after his initial header was saved.

Dani Alves doubled their lead on the night with an instinctive volley from goalkeeper Danijel Subasic’s punched clearance.

Kylian Mbappe turned in Joao Moutinho’s low cross to pull one back in the second half, but the French Ligue 1 side could not pull off an unlikely comeback.

Juventus, whose last win in this competition was in 1996 and lost 1-3 to FC Barcelona in the 2015 final, will face either Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid in the final.

The final match is slated for Cardiff on June 3.

Atletico host Real on Wednesday looking to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit.

Barcelona Wouldn’t Have Scored In 24 hours – Massimiliano Allegri

Juventus coach, Massimiliano Allegri has said his side would not have conceded a goal had their game against Barcelona lasted for 24 hours.
while describing his team as “a great Juventus”, he insisted his boys were in a normal amount of pressure.

Juventus qualified for the Champions League semifinals 3-0 on aggregate over Barcelona on Wednesday.

The Italians’ formidable defence held mighty Barcelona to a 0-0 stalemate in the quarterfinal return match at the Camp Nou, after they stunned the Catalans 3-0 in the first leg.

Allegri told Mediaset Premium after the match “We have to compliment the lads for all they are doing this season. It’s a step forward, a deserved qualification against a top level opponent.

“We did very well defensively, less so in attack where we failed to make the most of very promising counter-attacks.

“We were under the normal amount of pressure here, but it was a decisive step on the road to Cardiff.

“Barcelona failing to score goals over two legs is almost unheard of. The lads need to realise that they can do even better and we are slowly improving.

“We mustn’t get ahead of ourselves, but it’s right to feel enthusiasm and tomorrow we need to focus on Serie A.

“Celebration? Well … it’s the decisive moment of the campaign, these lads have a great sense of duty and professionalism.

“What I like best is that I don’t need to tell them off about that.

“We should’ve been calmer and sharper when spreading their play, but it’s not easy to do that here, as Barcelona are a completely different team on home turf.

“They move the ball around so quickly and only a great Juventus could’ve qualified.

“I am happy with what the lads are doing, but the key is not to maintain current form, instead aiming to improve it.

“Everyone was extraordinary tonight and when  Andrea Barzagli came on it felt like we could’ve played for a whole day and not conceded.”

We Have Another Chance To Create History – Luis Enrique

Its important for the Barcelona team to hit at least five goals past Juventus to produce another miracle Champions League comeback, but have nothing to lose according to outgoing coach Luis Enrique.

The Catalans made Champions League history by overcoming a 4-0 first leg deficit to beat Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 in the last round, but have another mountain to climb at the Camp Nou on Wednesday as they trail their quarter-final tie 3-0.

“We need to score fewer goals,” said an upbeat Enrique facing what could be his last European game in charge. “But bearing in mind the opponent could have chances and the goal can come at any moment, our objective is to score five.”

Enrique foresaw Barca’s recovery in the last 16, claiming an attack laced with the potential of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar was capable of scoring six against the French champions.

And he called for an expected near 100,000 crowds to play their part as they did against PSG.

“We don’t have anything to lose. We are free from pressure. Juventus have the semi-finals in their pocket and will have to decide whether to sit back or attack,” he added.

“We only have one option which is to attack, attack and attack again.

“I am sure that if we score the first goal, the Camp Nou will score the second and the third will come of its own accord.”

“Perfect game”
Barca captain Andres Iniesta was more cautious in his optimism, recognizing the first leg in Turin had been “a terrible result.”

However, he believes Barca have the potential to at least create some doubt in Juventus minds.

“Nowadays teams respect us a lot. I am convinced they know we can cause them problems,” said Iniesta.

“We have the potential, the players and reason to believe we can turn this tie around or at least get close to it.

“We need to create doubts so at some point they see the tie is in danger.

“Everything depends on playing a perfect game in every sense.”

Barca scored three times in the final two minutes plus stoppage time as PSG froze in a grandstand finish six weeks ago.

And Enrique insisted Barca can’t lose belief even if the goals don’t come early against a Juventus defence that has conceded just two in nine Champions League games this season.

“Don’t leave in the 80th minute,” he said in a message to the fans.

“We are going to try until the end. Those of us who experienced the game against PSG have another chance to experience a historic night.

“We have seen that Barca can score three goals in three minutes so we will stay together until the 95th minute.”

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini won his latest battle with Luis Suarez in the first leg after the Uruguayan famously bit the Italian at the 2014 World Cup.

Chiellini scored his side’s third goal a week ago after Paulo Dybala’s early double and insists Juventus will need all their experience to stand up to Barca’s “sharks”.

“We will have to play without fear because they are like sharks – they smell blood and they finish you off,” he told Sky Sports Italia.

The visitors were handed a big injury boost as Dybala has been passed fit to play despite picking up an ankle injury in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Pescara.

Barca will welcome back Iniesta and Neymar from the side that beat Real Sociedad 3-2 at the weekend with Messi’s double in that match taking him within two of 500 goals for the club.

 

Source: Punch

Pep Wowed As Bayern Stage Incredible Comeback To Evict Juventus

Bayern Munich’s stunning four-goal fightback to beat Juventus had the ‘wow’ factor for Pep Guardiola as the Bavarians reached the Champions League quarterfinals for the fifth season in a row.

Substitutes Thiago Alcantara and Kingsley Coman scored extra-time goals as Bayern roared back to beat Juve 4-2 in their last-16, second-leg tie and seal a 6-4 aggregate victory.

A stunned Bayern found themselves 2-0 down after 28 minutes at the Allianz Arena as Paul Pogba and Juan Cuadrado struck for the Italians before the Bavarian side floored the Italians with four unanswered goals.

But the hosts left it late as Robert Lewandowski netted on 73 minutes before Thomas Mueller’s dramatic equaliser in the 91st minute forced extra time.

Just as Juventus had fought back in Turin to draw the first leg 2-2, so Bayern came back in Munich.

Thiago put Bayern ahead for the first time on 108 minutes before fellow replacement Coman – on loan from Juventus – curled in a superb strike on 110 minutes to cap the fairytale finish.

“Four goals against an Italian team. Wow!” beamed Bayern manager Guardiola.

“I don’t know how often that has happened in history that a German team has scored four goals against an Italian side.

“It was a great game for the fans.

“We played against last season’s finalists and to come back from 2-0 down is very hard.”

The fightback keeps alive Guardiola’s dream of bringing the Champions League trophy to Munich at the third and final attempt before his high-profile move to Manchester City next season.

But Guardiola baulked at a cheeky question as to whether he would now like to face his future employers in the quarterfinals or the final in Milan on May 28.

“I can’t decide that. We’ll have to see what comes from the draw,” he said tersely.

This is the seventh time Guardiola has reached the Champions League quarterfinals in as many attempts as a coach at the highest level.

In his four years with Barcelona, he won the title in 2009 and 2011, reaching the semifinals in 2010 and 2012, while he steered Bayern to the last four in Europe in each of the last two seasons.

It was a heartbreaking end for last season’s finalists Juventus.

“Of course I am disappointed,” said their coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“But I have to pay my team a big compliment: we played one of the favourites for the title and we played better than in the first leg.

“That’s football, we made our first big mistake after 90 minutes.

“And they scored from one of their first few chances through Lewandowski.

“We could have reacted better, but we didn’t have the strength left to score another goal.

“We were 2-0 up and we could have been 3-0 up, but it’s not easy to get a result here.

“We could have decided the game earlier, it’s a pity, but at the end we have put in two games and I’m happy with the performance.

“Now we have to concentrate on winning the Serie A and then come back better in the Champions League.”

Much had been made in the build-up about how vulnerable Bayern are on the counter-attack and Guardiola’s side were again found wanting on the break as Juventus went ahead with just five minutes gone.

“That was a crazy game,” said goalscorer Mueller. “We knew, even when we were 2-0 down, that we were still in it.”

Bayern captain Philipp Lahm added: “What an unbelievable evening. You could see how tight things are when two top teams meet each other. We knew it would be all over if we had conceded a third goal.”

Juventus were just a minute away from their first victory in Munich since 2004 and their captain Gianluigi Buffon said the tie had been decided by fine margins.

“Football results depend on chances,” said the 38-year-old.

“They attacked a lot in the second half and took advantage of their chances.

“It’s always a pity to concede a goal in the last minute of a game, but I’m proud of my team.

“We are going out with our heads held high.”

Top Of The Table Clash In Italy

Gonzalo Higuain will be the major threat that has to be addressed in neutralising Serie A leaders Napoli in Turin, according to Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri.

Juventus play host to free-scoring Napoli tonight with a view to overhauling the southerners’ two-point lead and finally replacing them at the top of the table.

The Bianconeri have risen to second place on the back of an historic 14-game winning streak, after a disappointing start to the season but Napoli are also red-hot in form having secured their eighth straight victory last week.

While Napoli boast the league’s top scorer Higuain, with 24 goals, among their forward options, Juve’s leading marksman, Paulo Dybala, has notched only 13 times.

Allegri however says he will not allow his players to waste all their energy trying to contain Higuain when Napoli have proved to be more than capable of spreading the goals around the team.

He told a pre-match press conference: “Napoli are not just Higuain. They have the second best defence in the division, and the best attack.

“Higuain is having the best season of his life. It will be difficult to mark him but there are plenty of other dangerous players to worry about.

“Napoli are enjoying a great campaign, they’ve got 56 points. We had less than that at this point last year. It should be a great game but the result will not decide anything.”

Allegri must decide if he will pair Simone Zaza, back following suspension, or Alvaro Morata with Dybala up front, while Sami Khedira has returned from a thigh injury and could start in midfield.

There is better news for Napoli with fringe midfielder Alberto Grassi the only player ruled out.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri is expected to stick with his preferred attacking trident of Lorenzo Insigne, Higuain and Jose Callejon in his bid to widen the gap on Juve.

Napoli established their Scudetto credentials with a 2-1 home victory over Juve in September but they have traditionally found points harder to come by in Turin.

The Old Lady have won this fixture four times in a row, scoring at least three times in three of those encounters, while Napoli have notched just one league goal at the Juventus Stadium since it opened in 2011.

They last triumphed in the northern city in October 2009, in a 3-2 victory.