Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala have been forming an effective partnership in training for Juventus, prompting their improvement on the pitch, Maurizio Sarri has revealed. 

Ronaldo and Dybala have both hit form at a key time in the season as Juventus look to hold off Lazio in pursuit of another Serie A title. 

With Ronaldo now stationed on the left and Dybala playing through the middle, the duo have each scored in all three league matches since the league campaign resumed last month. 

Sarri has been encouraged by the burgeoning collaboration which the Bianconeri have worked hard on in training. 

"Cristiano Ronaldo and Dybala often look for each other," Sarri told a news conference ahead of the derby against Torino. 

"They play at speed and have moved closer together. It's a job they also do in training." 

Juve's front three has been completed by Federico Bernardeschi, though Douglas Costa arrived from the bench at Genoa in midweek to add a third goal.

"Bernardeschi is doing well, mentally and physically," Sarri said. "Douglas Costa deserves to play from the start and he could do it.

"But for us, right now, he is a vital weapon coming on when the game is in progress."

Sarri is happy to rely on the quality within the squad to pick up points, albeit he recognises the unique nature of a derby could make life tough against Torino.

"We have a team capable of playing good football and also individuals who can decide the game at any time," the coach said. "It is right to rely on both characteristics.

"However, the derby is a very particular game which escapes logic. They [Torino] will be highly motivated."

Lionel Messi's future is often a topic of discussion.

Messi has an early break clause in his Barcelona contract.

As Barca look to re-sign Messi, the 33-year-old superstar is reportedly ready to walk away next year.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTS BARCA EXIT

Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona when his contract expires at the end of 2020-21, according to Cadena SER.

Barca captain Messi – previously linked to Inter and Manchester City – has reportedly been in talks over a new two-year deal at Camp Nou.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner and Barca's all-time leading scorer is reportedly tired of being blamed for issues at the club, with the LaLiga champions set to be dethroned by Real Madrid.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Camp Nou and club legend Xavi has agreed to become Barcelona head coach next season. Mundo Deportivo journalist Francesc Aguilar says the Al-Sadd boss has agreed a €6million salary to replace under-fire coach Quique Setien.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Manchester United and neighbours City have asked Barca about the availability of out-of-favour forward Antoine Griezmann. A big-money signing from Atletico Madrid at the start of the season, Griezmann has struggled and found himself on the bench in recent weeks. However, the report claims Barca are not considering a transfer.

Liverpool are poised to sign Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, says Sport. Thiago is out of contract at the end of 2020-21 and the Spaniard is not willing to re-sign. Now, Liverpool are believed to be in advanced negotiations as Bayern seek £31m (€35m) for Thiago.

- Everton full-back Lucas Digne has emerged as a target for City and Chelsea if they fail to land Leicester City star Ben Chilwell, according to ESPN.

Borussia Dortmund have completed the signing of Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham, reports Bild. United were also chasing the 17-year-old sensation.

- After signing Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, Sky journalist Fabrizio Romano claims Inter have opened talks with Chelsea for Italian full-back Emerson Palmieri.

Juventus are hoping to settle Paulo Dybala's new contract between July and August, says Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports Chelsea are ready to step up their pursuit of Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz after Saturday's DFB-Pokal final against Bayern. Havertz has been linked to Bayern, Madrid, United, Liverpool and Barca.

- Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga could be shipped out on loan to Sevilla, claims The Sun. The world's most expensive keeper has been criticised for his performances this season.

Matthijs de Ligt says he is "feeling much better physically and mentally" after recovering from a slow start to his Juventus career.

The Netherlands international rejected interest from elsewhere to join Juventus in a €75million transfer from Ajax last July and has made 32 appearances for the Serie A giants.

He has come in for heavy criticism at times in his debut campaign in Turin but has started all five of Juve's matches since last month's restart, helping to keep four clean sheets.

"I feel much better physically now and mentally I am in a much, much better place," he told Sky Sport Italia ahead of Saturday's Derby della Mole with Torino.

"In Serie A there are many different strikers. There's [Romelu] Lukaku, for example, who's very strong and quick but also [Ciro] Immobile, who's very good with his back to goal.

"Every team have great forwards, different from one another, and every match is very difficult. The bar is very high.

"I try to study them thoroughly before each game in order to be prepared for any outcome."

De Ligt scored the only goal of the game when Juve last met rivals Torino eight months ago and believes that match-winning strike was a turning point in his Bianconeri career.

"It's a special game - both teams want to win for the city and their fans," he said. "We must do our best, above all in defence, and not give away any chances.

"Obviously the first derby is a beautiful memory for me because I scored my first goal for the Bianconeri. It also gave us a very important victory.

"It wasn't an easy time for me, I received a lot of criticism and I was under pressure. That goal raised my spirits and made me and my team-mates happy.

"Thanks to that goal, I became the footballer I am today."

Juve hold a four-point lead over Lazio with nine games of the resumed campaign to play, while Inter are a further four points behind.

However, De Ligt is refusing to take anything for granted and insists his side cannot afford to take their eye off the ball in pursuit of a ninth successive Scudetto.

"Lazio and Inter are both still in the running," he said. "Inter are a great team and are not far behind.

"We have to be very careful with these teams, there are still nine games to play and each one will be a final from here until week 38. We must not slow down now."

Everton have completed the signing of France Under-19 left-back Niels Nkounkou on a free transfer from Marseille, fending off reported interest from Juventus.

Nkounkou has agreed a three-year deal with Everton following the expiration of his contract at Marseille.

The 19-year-old played 14 times for Marseille's B team in the National 2 in 2018-19, France's fourth tier, while also being named on the bench for the first team twice.

He was a rumoured target for Serie A champions Juve but will now be working under Carlo Ancelotti at Goodison Park, though Nkounkou will first bolster David Unsworth's U23 side.

Everton, who are unbeaten since the resumption of the Premier League, have Lucas Digne and Leighton Baines as their options at left-back.

Baines, however, is yet to agree to a contract extension, with the 35-year-old's current deal set to run out at the end of the season.

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta said the Nerazzurri have not discussed signing star midfielder Sandro Tonali with Brescia.

Tonali is highly coveted following his exploits for Brescia – the Italian attracting interest from the likes of Serie A champions Juventus, Inter, Manchester United, Manchester City and Barcelona.

Inter are tipped to prise Tonali from Brescia amid reports a five-year contract has already been agreed with the 20-year-old, who has been compared to Italian great Andrea Pirlo.

Asked about an advertisement televised in China, showing head coach Antonio Conte painting an Inter jersey on Tonali, CEO Marotta – speaking prior to Wednesday's 6-0 Serie A rout of Brescia – told DAZN: "I think he painted the youngest player in the game, so it might be an auspice of youth that Inter would like in future.

"Tonali is admired not just by me, but by all fans of Italian football.

"He is still a Brescia player and we have not discussed it with them, despite having a good rapport."

Tonali, who played a key role in Brescia's promotion from Serie B in 2018-19, has scored one goal and supplied five assists this season.

The Italy international is reportedly set to follow Achraf Hakimi to Inter, who are poised to announce the signing of the Real Madrid full-back following a two-year loan spell at Borussia Dortmund.

Juventus director Fabio Paratici said Miralem Pjanic would only leave for Barcelona after the Bosnian midfielder agreed to join the LaLiga champions.

Pjanic will swap Juve for Barca at the end of the 2019-20 season, with Arthur moving in the opposite direction as part of the high-profile swap deal.

Juve star Pjanic was in the starting XI and played 74 minutes of Tuesday's 3-1 Serie A victory over Genoa following the announcement.

Asked about Pjanic prior to Juve's win, Paratici told Sky Sport Italia: "Logically, the transfer market is part planning and part opportunity. In this particular deal, we had both elements.

"Pjanic is a very important player for us, so when the option emerged, we spoke to Miralem and he said he was happy here, so the only club he would've left us for was Barcelona.

"We found this player Arthur, who we had been tracking for a long time, and who is younger than Pjanic."

Juve have also been involved in another swap deal, with 19-year-old Portuguese winger Felix Correia arriving from Manchester City in exchange for 18-year-old Spanish forward Pablo Moreno.

Correia has signed a five-year contract in Turin following his €10.5million (£9.5m) transfer, while Moreno – who left Barcelona for Juve in 2018 – has penned a four-year deal and cost City €10m (£9m).

"Felix is a winger who is strong in taking men on, he's very talented and we'd been following him for a while too," Paratici added. "He was more functional for our U23 team project compared to Moreno."

 

Maurizio Sarri lauded the "phenomenal skills" of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa after Serie A leaders Juventus defeated Genoa.

Stunning goals from Ronaldo, Dybala and Costa ensured titleholders Juve stayed four points clear of scudetto challengers Lazio thanks to Tuesday's 3-1 victory at struggling Genoa.

Dybala broke the deadlock with a fine individual effort in the 50th minute before Ronaldo made it 2-0 six minutes later via a thunderous long-range strike.

Juve substitute Costa then put the visitors out of sight with an equally impressive effort, while Andrea Pinamonti drilled in a 76th-minute consolation for Genoa.

"In the second half we lead thanks to our single players because we scored on three excellent plays by three single men," Juve head coach Sarri said.

"Paulo's [Dybala] great slalom, the outstanding Ronaldo's shoot, incredible for its precision and strength and the sensible touch from [Douglas Costa].

"This is how we solved the match, thanks to our individualities and phenomenal skills. We created the team's assumptions." 

Sarri and Juve were heavily criticised following the coronavirus break, which saw the Italian champions go back-to-back games without scoring, including in their Coppa Italia final defeat to Napoli.

Ronaldo was also scrutinised but Juve have now won three consecutive matches to be top of the table with nine fixtures remaining.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner equalled his tally from last season across all competitions with his 28th goal in 2019-20, while he has scored 14 goals in 2020 – more than any other Serie A player this year.

Sarri added: "After the lockdown I made an assessment: I said that something changed. Then everybody almost made fun of me because we lost the Coppa Italia on penalties.

"The truth is that once we improved our condition we started paying better this kind of football. This due to our condition that's getting better after the lockdown."

Juve are back in action against city rivals Torino on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala have learned to work together following their goalscoring displays, according to Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri.

Ronaldo and Dybala both scored stunning individual goals as defending champions Juve stayed four points clear atop the Serie A table with a 3-1 win at Genoa.

There have been doubts over whether Ronaldo and Dybala are compatible in Juve's starting XI, but the star duo starred on Tuesday.

Sarri hailed the pair post-match, telling Sky Sport Italia: "Something has changed in terms of movements, but they have learned to look for each other more often.

"They have realised that by benefitting from each other, both reap the rewards. It's something I have noticed in training too."

After a dominant first-half display failed to produce the goods, Dybala broke the deadlock in the 50th minute before Ronaldo made it 2-0 six minutes later with a thunderous long-range effort.

Juve substitute Douglas Costa then put the visitors out of sight with an equally impressive strike, while Andrea Pinamonti drilled in a 76th-minute consolation for Genoa.

Ronaldo equalled his tally from last season across all competitions with his 28th goal in 2019-20.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored 14 goals in 2020, more than any other Serie A player this year.

"In the first half he went for the shot five times, so it means he was doing more than he should," Sarri said. "Cristiano often plays to free himself to finish, but when he decides to move the ball quickly, he is the best of them all.

"Honestly, I was going to replace Dybala, then I chose Ronaldo, who has played many minutes. We discussed it over the last days, he knew that he would go off at 3-0 and he did it with serenity."

"I think the team did well, even in the first half. We had clear chances, without conceding any," Sarri said. "It was a good team effort and we scored three beautiful goals.

"The team have recovered well after the disappointment from the Coppa Italia, but it was only a matter of time before we were physically well."

Miralem Pjanic was in Juve's line-up after confirmation of his transfer to Barcelona at the end of the season, with Arthur moving in the opposite direction.

Pjanic played 74 minutes and Sarri added: "I haven't even talked to Miralem these days. I often did it after the suspension, after the lockdown, because he had these 20 to 25 days in poor shape.

"We asked ourselves the reason and we tried to find the solution. It was a drop in the mental condition more than anything else. I'm sure he will do well in this period. I find him happy and calm. I have no worries."

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a stunning goal as Juventus restored their four-point lead at the top of Serie A with a 3-1 victory over struggling Genoa.

Lazio's win over Torino had seen the gap at the top of Serie A closed to one point prior to kick-off at Stade Luigi Ferraris, but Maurizio Sarri's side ultimately made light work of their hosts.

After a dominant first-half display failed to produce the goods, Juve made the pressure count early in the second period – Paulo Dybala opening the scoring before Ronaldo picked out the top right-hand corner of the net in sensational fashion.

Substitute Douglas Costa then put the visitors out of sight with an equally impressive strike before Andrea Pinamonti drilled in a 76th-minute consolation for Genoa.

Juve wasted little time in getting on the front foot, with Mattia Perin, on loan from the Bianconeri, pulling off two smart stops in quick succession to deny Ronaldo.

Perin's strong display against his parent club continued before the break, Adrien Rabiot heading straight at him from close range before the goalkeeper made an outstanding stop from a Ronaldo strike.

Juve's breakthrough finally came five minutes after the break, though, Dybala twisting his way clear of several defenders before lashing in a shot which Perin could only help into the net.

With Genoa's resolve broken, Juve had their second six minutes later, Ronaldo hammering home his 24th Serie A goal of the season from 25 yards out.

Costa curled in an exquisite third shortly after coming on as a substitute to wrap up Juve's third successive league win since the restart, though Genoa had the final say when Pinamonti finished from a tight angle.

 

What does it mean? No slip-ups in the Scudetto race

The pressure is on Juve, with Lazio bouncing back from their 3-2 defeat to Atalanta by beating Torino. The Bianconeri seem to be going from strength to strength, however, with Ronaldo and Dybala in scintillating form.

Ronaldo and Dybala do the damage

Sarri has not always been able to accommodate his star strikers to get the best out of both of them, yet that certainly was not the case on Tuesday – Ronaldo looked sharp from the off, while Dybala displayed exceptional individual skill to craft the space for his opener.

Perin gives his parent club a helping hand

Having made nine league appearances for Juve last term, Perin was superb in the first half. Yet the 27-year-old will have been disappointed by his efforts for Dybala's opener as he got down to the strike only to fail to parry it wide.

Key Opta Facts

- Juventus have scored at least two goals in all their last six league games, their best run since February 2019.
- In 2020, Ronaldo has scored 14 goals, more than any other Serie A player.
- Dybala has scored in his last four Serie A games, his longest streak since September 2017.
- Ronaldo has equalled his number of goals of last season - 28 in all competitions.
- Pinamonti has scored in two games in a row for Genoa for the first time in Serie A.

What's next?

It is the Turin derby up next for Juve, who host Torino on Saturday, while 17th-place Genoa face Udinese a day later.

Ciro Immobile equalled Lazio's goalscoring record for a single Serie A season as they kept up the pressure on leaders Juventus with a 2-1 win at Torino.

Playing ahead of Juve on Tuesday, Lazio came from behind to defeat Torino and move – temporarily at least – to within a point of Maurizio Sarri's side

Immobile was key to their result, scoring his 29th league goal of the campaign in the 48th minute to cancel out Andrea Belotti's early opener.

Immobile's low strike from the left side of the area into the bottom-right corner saw him equal a club record he set in 2017-18.

The only player to have scored more goals after 29 games in a Serie A season was Antonio Angelillo with 31 in 1958-59.

Italy international Immobile, playing against his former club, was not done there, however, and teed up Marco Parolo to secure the points and keep Lazio right on Juve's heels.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a natural-born winner who has proven he does not like to be in the comfort zone throughout his glittering career, says former Portugal international Abel Xavier.

Since joining Manchester United as a prodigious teenager, Ronaldo has racked up the biggest collective and individual prizes in world football.

In six years with the Red Devils, Ronaldo won three Premier League trophies, two EFL Cups, an FA Cup and the Champions League in 2008.

That tradition of winning continued during nine prolific seasons with Real Madrid, during which time he became Los Blancos' all-time record goalscorer, won two LaLiga titles, two Copas del Rey and the Champions League on four occasions.

Ronaldo opted to depart Madrid for Juventus ahead of the 2018-19 campaign and lifted the Serie A trophy and Supercoppa Italiana during that debut term.

Another league title with Juve appears on the horizon, with the Bianconeri four points clear of Lazio with 10 games remaining.

Former Liverpool and Roma full-back Xavier says Ronaldo is fuelled by undertaking different challenges and would be successful wherever he plays.

"He's a winner and his mental focus is great," Xavier told Stats Perform News of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"You realise he does not like the comfort zone. He was in Madrid, he won; he was at Man United, he won; he's at Juventus and has also won things.

"Wherever he goes, he is going to win – individually and collectively.

"Of course, there is going to arrive a moment when he is not going to be able to produce the same style of football, but when you're looking to win – concerning the goalscoring positions – he is one of the best.

"Nowadays, the effort [for the team] is to try and put him in the right place to score. His qualities now are more a finisher, being in the right place to finish.

"For me, as a Portuguese, and for all people who love football, we admire him. He's a great player, a great athlete and a great team-mate in football."

Ronaldo is now 35 but Xavier sees no let-up in the hunger for glory and says helping Juve defend their title will be at the forefront of his season aims.

"I think that is his main goal. That is his main objective because he's a winner," Xavier added.

"I know him from my time as a player when he was a young player who started to be integrated into the national team environment.

"I believe he is still intact, he is still a very strong-minded, focused person. And he wants to win titles. He wants to win titles individually, he wants to win them collectively."

Earlier this season, which was disrupted for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ronaldo was reported to have fallen out with Juve boss Maurizio Sarri, rumours exacerbated by the head coach substituting his superstar in two straight games when Juve were not in front.

Xavier believes regardless of the personal relationship between the two they will always be brought together by the desire for success.

"They've been having a few problems recently. A moment arrives for a coach when it becomes hard because you need to manage egos, you need to be able to keep forming the players and putting in the correct identity for your style of play," Xavier said.

"The players need to accept that to be together.

"But, I don't know if the administration will make a decision on that, concerning the coach. But the leadership of the players is very important and they still have the chances and opportunities to win two important titles – Serie A and the Champions League.

"Whatever is happening with the coaching position, they have these two main objectives to be focused on."

Miralem Pjanic has been included in Juventus' squad to face Genoa on Tuesday, a day after his impending move to Barcelona was confirmed.

It was announced Barca had agreed an initial fee of €60million to take Pjanic to Camp Nou at the end of the season, with Arthur heading in the opposite direction in a deal that could eventually cost Juve €82m.

Pjanic is among the party named by Juve for the clash at the Luigi Ferraris, where the Bianconeri will continue their bid for a ninth Serie A title.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, prior to the confirmation of the deal, Juve coach Maurizio Sarri said he had no doubts Pjanic would give his all to the cause before heading to Barca.

"If the transfer becomes official, [Pjanic] will be happy because he will end his career in a great team," Sarri said.

"The boy can be happy with this solution, I am peaceful because he is serious and intelligent. The possibility that he doesn't give us 101 per cent, I don't see it."

Juve are four points clear of second-place Lazio at the top of Serie A with 10 games remaining.

Maurizio Sarri believes Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala can start against Genoa, but the Juventus coach is keen to avoid a "problem" going forward.

Juventus' busy run of fixtures continues against Genoa on Tuesday, before they host Torino four days later.

Ronaldo has played every minute of their four games since the coronavirus-enforced break, while Dybala has started each match.

Sarri said the pair were likely ready to start again, but he knows the star duo will need a rest at some stage.

"It's likely that they can start again [against Genoa]," he told a news conference.

"It's clear that if they play every game, in two or three matches we may have a problem, but I don't think there is any risk for them to suffer some sort of fatigue right now.

"In the long run though we need to have [Gonzalo] Higuain fit and able to play a large part of the game, this will become essential at some point."

With 10 games remaining in the Serie A season, Juventus hold a four-point lead atop the table.

Barcelona and Juventus have hammered out the details of agreements that will see Miralem Pjanic line up alongside Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann next season, with Arthur poised to begin the next chapter of his fledgling career in Turin.

The part exchange deal involving these two stylish, deep-lying midfielders – Arthur's switch to Juve was valued at an initial €72million, with Pjanic costing Barca €60m – prompted plenty of raised eyebrows.

Pjanic has been a consistent performer since joining Juventus from Roma in 2016, while only last season Arthur was been spoken of as a potential heir to Xavi.

In order to try to make sense of why each club gave the green light for their players to trade places, we have enlisted a little help from Opta.

MIRALEM THE MAINSTAY

Much has been made of the age difference between the two players, especially given the near parity in transfer fees.

Pjanic is seven years older than Arthur, 23, but having those extra miles in his legs has not affected his output when it comes to time on the field.

Each man made 44 appearances in all competitions last term, but Pjanic's 3,277 minutes on the pitch dwarfed Arthur's 2,476.

That, in part, was as a result of the Brazil international establishing himself during a breakthrough campaign, but form and fitness issues have restricted him to 28 games and 1,541 minutes this time around. Pjanic is on 36 appearances and 2,903 minutes as Juve chase down another Scudetto.

GOALS AND ASSISTS

One area where there has been a notable uptick for Arthur this season is in front of goal. The former Gremio star has scored four times, having failed to find the net at all in 2018-19. He also has four assists, up from two.

Pjanic is far more noted for his creative qualities but only has two assists this term, down from eight in the previous campaign – perhaps indicative of him being slightly shackled within Maurizio Sarri's system.

The Bosnia-Herzegovina playmaker has seven goals across the past two seasons, although his numbers in both metrics owe a debt to his prowess from dead-ball situations. How many free-kicks Messi will let him take at Camp Nou feels like a legitimate question to ask.

PASS MASTERS

These are two players who cherish the ball and do not make a habit of letting it fall into opposition control. In their most recent seasons, neither dips below a pass completion percentage of 90.

Arthur completed 91.7 per cent of his passes in opposition territory last term – a figure he has maintained with 91.1 this time around.

Pjanic dips slightly to 88 per cent in the attacking half, figures that probably reflect his more ambitious and expansive style, along with the fact he lost possession 455 times in 2018-19 compared to 225 for Arthur.

DOING THE DIRTY WORK

In their positions at the base of the midfield, there is a burden on Arthur and Pjanic to destroy as well as create.

The Brazilian won 146 duels compared to 127 by his Bosnian counterpart last season and he is only two behind this term despite a significant disparity in playing time.

Pjanic is out in front when it comes to interceptions, winning 50 to Arthur's six this season and 53-19 in 2018-19, while the older man's recovery stats (256 and 213) are also comfortably more plentiful than his Juventus replacement (179 and 101).

Barcelona have a deal to sign Miralem Pjanic from Juventus for an initial €60million, with Arthur having agreed to move in the opposite direction in a separate arrangement.

Pjanic will put pen to paper on a four-year contract with Barca and join them at the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign. The transfer includes an additional €5m in variables.

Earlier on Monday, LaLiga's champions confirmed Arthur will join Juve from next season for an initial €72m. The Bianconeri are yet to reveal the details of the Brazil international's contract.

Bosnia-Herzegovina international Pjanic is seven years Arthur's senior and has been at Juve since a switch from Roma in 2016.

The set-piece specialist has remained an integral part of the team since Maurizio Sarri replaced Massimiliano Allegri as head coach for this season, although he arguably does not entirely meet the ex-Napoli and Chelsea boss' very specific demands for his holding midfielder.

Pjanic has won Serie A in each of his three completed seasons in Turin, scoring 22 times in 171 appearances across all competitions.

He is well-placed to make it four in a row, with Juve four points clear of Lazio in this season's Scudetto race, although Barcelona's plans to freshen up their midfield are perhaps partially explained by them falling two points shy of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga – meaning Arthur might struggle to leave as a back-to-back champion.

Page 1 of 44
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.