Juventus’ obsession with winning another European Cup has the club on edge after a 1-0 first leg loss to Lyon on Wednesday in the first leg of the Round of 16.
Stalwart defender Leonardo Bonucci, defender Danilo, and manager Maurizio Sarri were less than pleased with the performance.
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Bonucci was spotted yelling at substitute midfielder Blaise Matuidi in warm-ups, and that was a prelude to a poor performance from most of the team.
“I didn’t tell Matuidi off, I told him the team includes those who are on the bench and we must all be ready to contribute,” Bonucci said, via Football-Italia. “I could tell something wasn’t switched on with the XI starters either. We’ve got to sort this out, as these are the things that make the difference.”
Sarri, the system man, is quite upset with his players after what he said was a lightning-fast training session on Tuesday.
“I don’t know why, I cannot get the players to understand the importance of moving the ball quickly,” said the flummoxed ex-Chelsea man. “This is fundamental, we’ll keep working on it and sooner or later this concept will get into their heads.”
Sarri was happier with the ball movement in the second half, and will expect Juve to do the same in its home second leg.
Danilo had a decent day in the loss. He didn’t sugar coat the performance.
“We cannot just gift the first half to the opposition in such an important tournament. We are aware that we did that and need to work harder,” Danilo said.
Despite what Morrissey’s sung about Manchester, it seems one of its football clubs just cannot get out of the sun shine and clear skies.
Take the latest rumored deal involving Manchester City, which involves Juventus dynamo Joao Cancelo arriving at the Etihad Stadium to fix what is one of the only questions on the road to a third-straight Premier League crown: full back depth.
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What will Juve take back? About $35 million and Danilo.
I bet Pep Guardiola demanded Juve stay on the line while he flew to the continent to make sure he was speaking to a representative of the club.
Now $35 million would make many of us retire. And I’m not dressing down Danilo, who’s a Brazilian international and an okay left back in his own right, but this is Joao Cancelo. Chelsea was going to pay about the same for him two summers ago — sans Danilo of course — and that was when Kyle Walker was costing almost double that fee.
While the 25-year-old Cancelo has missed a month in each of the last two seasons with knee injuries and that’s no small issue, he’s been among the best right backs in the world for all but one season of his career (and even that one, for Valencia, was still above average).
Look: Danilo will have much more stylistic success in Serie A than in the Premier League, and Cancelo may take some time to adjust to England. But this move is just a no-brainer, and we wonder how Juventus couldn’t get more out of mighty Man City.
A roundup of Thursday’s biggest transfer rumors from around the world, including those involving a few Premier League clubs…
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Bayern Munich’s pursuit of Leroy Sane has been unrelenting this summer, but Manchester City’s demands are high — sky high — and that might just be the deterrent required to keep hold of the 23-year-old. According to the Telegraph, Man City have put a $166-million price tag on the German winger. It might be time for Bayern to begin looking at backup options.
Bruno Fernandes has been one of the most frequently linked players to Manchester United, but a move is yet to materialize this summer and now Tottenham Hotspur might be sneaking through the backdoor and making their play for the 24-year-old Portuguese midfielder. Tottenham’s pursuit of Giovani Lo Celso is yet to land the Argentine at White Hart Lane, thus Daniel Levy is apparently moving to a backup plan of his own. Spurs reportedly made a bid of $63 million, but Sporting CP are said to be holding out for the Fernandes’ full $107-million release clause.
Man City’s pursuit of a new starting right back is ongoing, with Juventus’ Joao Cancelo still the no. 1 choice. According to the Guardian, City are willing to include Danilo as a makeweight in the exchange.
And finally, today’s Harry Maguire update: he has been left out of Leicester’s squad for a friendly against Atalanta, but Manchester United’s current bid still stands about $12 million short of what Leicester would like.
Pep Guardiola‘s left back options are limited for a crucial stretch which includes matches across three competitions.
Oleksandr Zinchenko limped off the pitch in Wednesday’s win over Cardiff City, and Guardiola says “it doesn’t look good” for the Ukranian’s chances to feature in this weekend’s FA Cup semifinal against Brighton and Hove Albion.
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Benjamin Mendy‘s been out for much of the season and Fabian Delph is also unavailable. And, really, Guardiola has favored Zinchenko in his system. Zinchenko has gone 90 minutes in each of City’s last six Premier League matches (which is odd considering the manager appeared ready to move him).
“He is important for us,” Guardiola said. “He knows the way we want to play but it is what it is. … It happens during the season and he plays a lot of minutes, but we will find a solution. Danilo fought a lot in that position, but it is not his natural one. We will find a solution.”
It could be Aymeric Laporte, who’s played a few times at left back for City, but Guardiola loves to use the Frenchman in the middle of his defense.
City is 9-0 when Zinchenko starts this season, and the reigning champions follow up the FA Cup semi with three matches against Tottenham and a fourth versus Crystal Palace.
While some were still sleeping — or shoveling in parts of this country — Manchester City worked as efficient a goal as you’ll see this weekend.
[ MORE: Match recap | Pep reacts ]
New Huddersfield Town loanee Jason Puncheon gave away the ball inside his own half, and Danilo used his first touch to find Sergio Aguero outside the Terriers’ 18.
Aguero flicks his first touch to Leroy Sane, who needed a gaudy two to beat Terriers goalkeeper Jonas Lossl.
It’s one of the things that makes dangerous sides like Man City, Liverpool, and it looks too easy (For Huddersfield Town, it really was, but we digress).