How Serie A Clubs Will Do in the Champions League Knockout Round

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Something remarkable has happened in the Champions League this season! That something, is the fact that there will be three Serie A clubs in the round of 16 this season in the Champions League. For Serie A fans, it’ll be more fun than usual to watch. So, here’s how far I think the Serie A clubs will do in the round of 16.

ATALANTA

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Earlier this week, Atalanta qualified for the Champions League in a triumphant fashion against Shakhtar Donetsk. It was absolutely amazing, to say the least! There were videos of Atalanta fans as well as players and staff celebrating this remarkable accomplishment. Now, they will be in the round of 16 for the first time in their history. They are coming in hot, as well. Based on the way they’re playing right now, many clubs should be scared to face them. However, I don’t think they’ll make it past the round of 16. I understand that they’re in pretty good form right now, however, I feel that their lack of experience in this type of situation is why they won’t advance past the round of 16. Sorry, La Dea fans!

NAPOLI

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There’s been a lot of drama surrounding Napoli lately. The players reportedly rebelled against Aurelio De Laurentiis and Carlo Ancelotti got sacked this week as well. So, it’s been an interesting few weeks for Napoli. However, fans will be happy that they went undefeated in the Champions League Group Stage and are now in the round of 16. Yes, Gattuso isn’t experienced as a manager at all with a club in the Champions League. However, based on how they’ve performed in the Champions League this season, no top club will want to face them. They’ll be a tough squad to beat, especially this season. That’s why I think they’ll make it through to the quarterfinals this time.

JUVENTUS

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If you didn’t know too much about Juventus and you based your knowledge off of what Bianconeri fans and pundits say, you’d think Juventus are doing terrible and they’re in a crisis. However, that’s not the case at all. Yes, they currently sit in second in Serie A and still have deficiencies in their Midfield, but, they went undefeated in the Champions League Group Stage. They also came in first in their group. Which, leads me to believe they’ll make it far in this competition. In my opinion, there’s no reason why Juve shouldn’t at least make the semifinals. I actually predict they’ll make the Champions League finals this season. Despite, their deficiencies in the midfield, I think they’ll continue to improve over the season under Sarri and should find themselves in Istanbul on May 30, 2020.

Here’s a video of Atalanta Fans Celebrating after they qualified to the round of 16! Video Credit: YouTube-Light Yagami

3 Reasons Why Juventus Has Been Quietly Successful Under Sarri So Far

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Many fans of the bianconeri have been complaining that so far, the style of play Juve has implemented under Sarri hasn’t looked different than that of Allegri’s. However, despite that, Juve is undefeated in all competitions. They’ve also sealed first in their Champions League group. But, Juve has not been as heavily talked about this season compared to the last, at least from what I’ve heard and witnessed. In the summer of 2018, Juve signed CR7. Within the season that proceeded, it seemed as if all eyes were on Juve to finally triumph and win the Champions League. But, it didn’t end up happening and Massimiliano Allegri got sacked the following summer. This season, Sarri has guided Juve to massive wins and they’re doing it very quietly, which makes them scary to face. So, here are 3 reasons why I think Sarri has led them to being undefeated , thus far.

Reason #1: Sarri Has Revitalized Dybala’s Career

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Last season, Dybala did not start as much many would’ve wanted him too, as Allegri decided to play a 4-3-3 formation, which led him to be an outcast. Even during this past summer, there were rumors that Dybala would be sold to numerous clubs. Among the clubs rumoured to be interested in Paulo Dybala were Tottenham and ManU. However, Dybala stayed put in Turin and already has 4 goals and 1 assist in 11 Serie A appearances. Last season, he got 5 goals and 4 assists in 30 total appearances in Serie A. This demonstrates that Sarri has gotten the best out of Dybala. Sarri has been consistently deploying a 4-3-1-2 formation for Juve this season, which suits Dybala’s style of play. Dybala has been playing as one of the two strikers up top. The reason this formation is the most beneficial for him is because he’s a very technical player, whose also a great play maker. As a result, putting him as one of the two players up front as a support striker allows him to playmake freely, as he’s used to doing. Also, he’s a very good goalscorer, so putting him up front takes the load off of Gonzalo Higuain, who is typically the other player up top with him.

Reason#2: Maurizio Sarri Has Allowed Juve To Have More Creativity in their Midfield

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Yes, Juve’s midfield is still missing another creative spark. That’s just my opinion. However, Sarri has allowed Juve’s midfield to become more creative in the opponent’s half. He hasn’t really deployed his famous “sarriball” at Juventus yet, as the midfield overall, doesn’t fit this type of system. However, from what I’ve noticed, they’ve looked more fluid. Maybe, it’s because Dybala has been starting more or for other reasons. But, for me the big reason Sarri has allowed Juve’s offense to look more fluid this season is because of the formation change. From reading this article, you probably think my favourite formation for any club coach to deploy is the 4-3-1-2, however that’s not always the case. It’s just that in this instance, having that central-attacking midfielder or better known in Fifa as CAM, has provided a link between Juve’s central midfielders and attackers. As a result, the service the attackers have received has improved from last season. My opinion is that if a club has a midfield who doesn’t have enough flair to provide adequate service to the players upfront, a CAM is needed so that there’s that extra creativity, if necessary. It seems to have been working under Sarri so far, let’s see if it continues.

Reason#3: Maurizio Sarri Has Made Them Less Dependent on Cristiano Ronaldo to Score

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I’m sure this is a very unpopular opinion and I may get some flack for it, however, I think that a big reason why Sarri has been successful with Juve thus far, is that he’s limited the over-reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo to provide offense. I don’t believe that Sarri has tried to undermine Cristiano Ronaldo, I think he’s attempted to coordinate the offense so that there’s less responsibility on CR7 to generate the majority of it himself. Unfortunately, last season under Allegri, Dybala under-performed, Higuain was on loan, Douglas Costa was often injured, and Mandzukic also underperformed. As a result, Ronaldo had to carry the majority of the offensive load for Juve. Yes, at Real Madrid, CR7 had to carry their offense load as well, during his last couple of seasons with the club, however, at least he had adequate service from the midfield to do that. Last season at Juve, the service to the players upfront wasn’t great. Unfortunately, that forced Cristiano Ronaldo to have to be more of a playmaker than he normally would be. In his prime, CR7 was a very technical and creative player. However, he’s a bit past his prime and doesn’t have the speed he once had. Therefore, when they centred the offense around him and didn’t get the best out of the other players upfront, it wasn’t beneficial for the club at all. Sarri has implemented a system to ensure that there’s less pressure on one particular player to generate offense in the opponent’s half. It has definitely yielded better results this season than the last one, so far. This is especially true in the Champions League for Juve.