Bonucci renews with Juve

By Sports Desk November 19, 2019

Leonardo Bonucci has signed a contract extension with Juventus running until June 2024, the Serie A champions have confirmed.

Italy centre-back Bonucci is in his second spell at Juve, having stunned the football world with a €42million switch to AC Milan in 2017.

However, the 32-year-old was back in Turin for the start of the following campaign and he has now committed for the next four-and-a-half seasons.

Initially signed from Bari in 2010, Bonucci has made 376 appearances and scored 17 times for the Bianconeri.

He has proved a pivotal figure under Maurizio Sarri, who was installed as Juventus head coach before the start of the 2019-20 season.

Bonucci is an ever-present in Serie A and the Champions League this term, while also featuring for the national team throughout their unblemished qualification campaign for Euro 2020.

Monday's 9-1 thrashing of Armenia was Bonucci's 95th cap for Italy.

Juve are also reported to be closing in on contract renewals for goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and winger Juan Cuadrado.

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    Stefano Pioli was in no mood to ruminate on his Milan future after leading an incredible fightback to defeat Serie A leaders Juventus 4-2 at San Siro.

    Milan looked set to become defending champions Juve's latest victims as the Rossoneri trailed to a wonderful individual Adrien Rabiot goal and Cristiano Ronaldo's swift second on Tuesday.

    But a remarkable turnaround saw Milan score three times in the space of six minutes through Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Franck Kessie and Rafael Leao, with Ante Rebic then securing the points after an awful Alex Sandro error.

    Milan are unbeaten since the season resumed, also beating Juve's title rivals Lazio last week, yet it still appears Pioli will not be at the helm next season.

    Widespread reports claim former RB Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick will be installed as both head coach and technical director.

    Pioli will not be distracted, though, telling DAZN post-match: "I don't think about what's going to happen on August 3. I'm focused on what we're doing.

    "I hope to hit the target I was called for. I don't think about August 3rd; I like to train, I'm fine here. I can't think about the future and situations that don't depend on me."

    Pioli, who saw Milan score four goals against Juve for the first time since 1989, added of the win: "I congratulate my players on a great day and a great victory.

    "The work done at Milanello was important. The team is doing well, playing well, and I'm happy even if we haven't done anything yet.

    "In 20 days, we play for everything. We think of Napoli [next]. There is satisfaction but great concentration. Everything we are doing needs to be improved. The level is high - if you make a mistake then you pay for it.

    "The work of the staff was important. We were good at taking advantage of the penalty incident. We did well on the pitch.

    "The first half was balanced, we were surprised. The team mentality is making a difference and we must keep going."

    Rangnick's mooted dual-role would also impinge on Milan great Paolo Maldini's position at the club.

    However, Maldini – the existing technical director – took a similar tone to Pioli as he spoke ahead of the Juve game, insisting his future was not an immediate concern.

    "I don't know [about the future]," Maldini told DAZN. "I want to get to the end of this season in August by concentrating on the matches and the goals we have set ourselves."

  • Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic still box office as San Siro stages Hollywood twist Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic still box office as San Siro stages Hollywood twist

    The touching pre-match tribute to Ennio Morricone, the great Italian film composer who died, aged 91, on Monday, fitted nicely for what was about to unfold at San Siro.

    Possibly for the last time in their decorated careers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – two of the most destructive gunslingers in modern European football – were ready to do battle as Milan and Juventus lined up.

    More so than perhaps any other players of their generation, Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic's on-field deeds have frequently carried cinematic qualities. From the rippling physiques and inimitable preening, to their seamless combination of brute force and artistry, both men scream Hollywood.

    Characters who polarise the audience were always the best pegs for Morricone's irresistibly lush arrangements and Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic are good, bad and ugly to many all at the same time. If Lionel Messi's lack of overt edge leaves you cold, these two have always been your guys. Your antiheroes.

    While Ronaldo and Messi existed unrelentingly in one another's orbit for the best part of a decade, the fleeting and often explosive addition of Ibrahimovic to the equation has usually left fans wanting more.

    It is churlish to bemoan the lack of spectators given the ongoing gravity of the global situation but some occasions miss a live audience more than others. This potentially final installment of a flashpoint rivalry was one of those.

    Although this match eventually made a case of its own, they were never likely to top the stupendous 2013 World Cup qualification play-off, where the pair scored all the goals over two legs that concluded with Portugal eliminating Sweden on away goals. Morricone could have gone to town on that one. Drama, tension, plot-twists, elation, despair. It had everything.

    Almost seven years on, each player is past the peak they revelled in back then, even if Ronaldo's absurd goal scoring numbers make a compelling counter-argument.

    The passage of time necessitates refinement. Today they are wily, all-knowing stars in complete control and happy to exist on the margins, rather than all-action leading men – more Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino than his Man With No Name pomp.

    This was their lot during a brooding first half. Ronaldo cut inside from the left win to thump a trademark dipping drive just beyond the far post. He was more frequently seen remonstrating with the officials, most notably when Ibrahimovic's penchant for martial arts was on display and his boot grazed the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's ear as he attacked a right-win set piece.

    Ibrahimovic twice brought routine saves from Wojciech Szczesny before breaking clear in stoppage time. 1-0? No, cut! Offside, and the deadlock remained.

    Tearing the length of the field to score goal-of-the-season contenders might no longer be Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic's game, but Adrien Rabiot happily made that his business in the 47th minute.

    The former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder barged Franck Kessie out of the way and nutmegged Theo Hernandez to cross the halfway line on the right wing. Rabiot then opened his elegant stride to breeze beyond Alessio Romagnoli and brought things to a thrilling crescendo. As Milan's defence scattered he unfurled a majestic left-footed strike into the top-right corner.

    A befuddled Rossoneri were struggling to regain composure – none too effectively in the case of Andrea Conti and Simon Kjaer, who got in each other's way defending Juan Cuadrado's raking ball.

    And there he was. Ronaldo, finger on the trigger. Goal 26 of the Serie A campaign was a formality and Juve were going 10 points clear of a faltering Lazio.

    Only, one man had other ideas. It was time for an audacious third-act twist almost too implausible for any composition.

    The VAR playback of the 62nd-minute scene did no favours for Leonardo Bonucci. Handball. Penalty. Of course Ibrahimovic stepped up. Of course he scored.

    There he was again four minutes later, that strapping back onto which you could probably project movies facing the Juventus goal. Ibrahimovic's penalty box presence was as booming as his lay-off was deft. Kessie was on hand for a redemptive finish, his earlier humiliation at the hands of Rabiot forgotten.

    Ibrahimovic then left the chaos, his part played perfectly. But Milan were not done as Ronaldo's compatriot Rafael Leao ensured 0-2 had become 3-2 in the space of five berserk minutes.

    If he'd been tasked with soundtracking this undulating drama, Morricone might have been tearing up his score at this point. At the very least, the keen Roma fan would have been disgruntled at the unlikely lifeline handed to Lazio's ailing Scudetto bid.

    A roof-falling-in error from Alex Sandro allowed Ante Rebic to complete a 4-2 triumph. Six goals, the perfect number.

    At full-time, Ibrahimovic strode around, a picture of satisfaction. Topless, of course. Just as Ronaldo, beaten and wounded, would have done had roles been reversed.

    Perhaps the veteran Swede will survive the behind-the-scenes ructions at Milan to return next season. Is another sequel with the intoxicating sound and colour of the tifosi as opposed to the eerie emptiness of now too much to ask?

  • Celta Vigo 1-1 Atletico Madrid: All square after Morata scores fastest goal of LaLiga season Celta Vigo 1-1 Atletico Madrid: All square after Morata scores fastest goal of LaLiga season

    Alvaro Morata scored the fastest goal of the LaLiga season after just 51 seconds but Atletico Madrid had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo.

    Morata followed up his double in the win over Real Mallorca last Friday by striking in the first minute at Estadio de Balaidos.

    Fran Beltran deservedly levelled early in the second half with his first goal of the season to move Celta seven points clear of the relegation zone with three matches to play, although third-bottom Mallorca have a game in hand.

    Third-placed Atleti are unbeaten in 15 games and a draw keeps them on course to secure a Champions League spot.

    Atleti could not have wished for a better start, Angel Correa taking a pass from Santiago Arias and picking out Morata for a tap in with less than a minute on the clock.

    Celta responded to that early blow and Brais Mendez's deflected strike went into the side-netting before the midfielder curled a shot wide of the far post.

    Diego Simeone's side could have doubled their lead late in the first half, but Correa was unable to apply the finish as he charged into the penalty area.

    Celta were level just four minutes after the restart, Beltran not getting a clean contact on Mendez's cross but seeing his volley loop into the far corner with Jan Oblak helpless.

    Oscar Garcia's men did not look like a side in danger of the drop and Mendez was denied by the busy Oblak, who then palmed Santi Mina's strike away for a corner.

    Ivan Villar came on to replace injured Celta goalkeeper Ruben Blanco with nine minutes to play and he denied Thomas Lemar, with the home side also having a penalty appeal dismissed following a VAR check late on.

     

    What does it mean? Atleti a step closer to Champions League spot

    Atleti lead Sevilla, who have a game in hand, by three points and are nine better off than fifth-placed Villarreal in the battle for Champions League spots.

    On the evidence of this showing, in which they could have secured a surprise win, Celta ought to have enough to avoid relegation.

    Morata on a roll

    Striker Morata led the line well for Atleti and was in the right place at the right time to score his third goal in two games right in a dream start.

    He now has 16 goals for the season in all competitions and it looks like there will be more to come.

    Llorente stifled

    It was certainly not one of the Marcos Llorente's better nights as he struggled to stamp his authority on the game before being withdrawn midway through the second half.

    What's next?

    Atleti entertain Real Betis on Saturday, when Celta travel to mid-table Osasuna.

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