Memphis Depay says Lyon will take a fearless approach when they attempt to knock Juventus out of the Champions League on Friday.

Lyon travel to Turin with a 1-0 advantage from a first leg that was staged way back in February. 

Rudi Garcia's side were beaten on penalties by Paris Saint-Germain in a Coupe de la Ligue final last Friday that was their first competitive match since March.

While the Ligue 1 season could not be finished due to the coronavirus pandemic, Juve returned to Serie A action in June and last week sealed a ninth consecutive title.

Depay knows that will be an advantage for the Italian champions, but the Lyon captain - who made his comeback against PSG after recovering from a knee injury - believes his side can defy the odds and reach the quarter-finals.

He is quoted as saying by UEFA.com: "[The first leg] was the first match I watched [after suffering a serious knee injury], and I saw a team spirit that made me so very happy.

"Juve weren't playing well. But now, months later, the situation is totally different. They have now played more matches than we have, so many aspects are now completely different to normal.

"But that has allowed me to be able to play in the Champions League. I am ready."

He added: "With the new rules [one-off games from the last eight onwards], anyone can be favourites. Because you know there are only one-off games.

"And Juventus have some very experienced players when it comes to playing finals. We, on the contrary, have a lot of young players who don't have much experience with the pressure of playing in finals and the Champions League.

"We'll just have to see. I do know that we have a very eager team and that we are definitely not afraid."

There was a predictable champion at the end of the 2019-20 Serie A campaign as Juventus clinched a ninth successive Scudetto, and their success is reflected in Opta's Team of the Season. 

Although Juve finished 2019-20 just a point ahead of second-placed Inter, they had wrapped up the title with two games to go – beating Sampdoria 2-0 on July 26.

Cristiano Ronaldo was unsurprisingly key, finishing as his team's top scorer, but for much of the season there were a few sides that looked like they might push Juve all the way.

Inter, Atalanta and Lazio all had their moments where they were able to dream and they each had individuals who impressed.

Following the conclusion on the campaign on Sunday, we teamed up with Opta to outline the Serie A Team of the Season.

OPTA'S SERIE A TEAM OF THE SEASON

GK: Wojciech Szczesny, Juventus

Poland international Szczesny has come a long way since struggling in the latter part of his Arsenal career. He was once again a dependable option between the posts, remaining first choice despite the return of Gianluigi Buffon. He ended the season with a 74.4 per cent save success rate, the best of the Serie A goalkeepers to have played 20 or more times.

RB: Juan Cuadrado, Juventus

Hardly the most convincing of defenders, granted, but Cuadrado boasts the versatility to play in a few roles down the right flank and he became an important figure for Maurizio Sarri – his 28 Serie A starts is just one fewer than he managed in the previous two seasons combined. The Colombian was certainly influential, too, as he was involved in more open-play sequences that ended with a shot made by someone else (132) than any other player this term. He also chipped in with two goals and five assists.

CB: Stefan de Vrij, Inter

No team conceded fewer goals in Serie A this season than an Inter side that Antonio Conte ensured was well-drilled. Netherlands centre-back De Vrij played a major role in that as he featured 34 times – though his efforts were not notable just for his defensive effectiveness. The former Feyenoord man scored three goals and also set up another three, making him the most productive centre-back in the league in this regard.

CB: Francesco Acerbi, Lazio

After Inter, the next-best defensive unit in Serie A was Lazio, who let in 42 (six more than Conte's men). Acerbi missed just two games all season and his form at the start of the season also saw him make three starts for Italy. The 32-year-old has proven himself to be one of Serie A's best stoppers, as evidenced by the fact he was dribbled past just six times this term. No other outfield player with more than 35 appearances did better than that.

LB: Theo Hernandez, Milan

Former France youth international Hernandez has rediscovered the early promise he showed during a fine loan spell at Deportivo Alaves in 2016-17. While question marks remain over his defensive abilities, the Atletico Madrid youth product has excited with his attacking tendencies in 2019-20. No defender completed more dribbles (57) than him, while he also had a hand in nine goals (six goals, three assists).

CM: Luis Alberto, Lazio

Since leaving Liverpool for Rome in 2016, Luis Alberto has arguably developed into one of the world's best creative midfielders. The Spain international sees passes few others can and he has put that to particularly good use in 2019-20, with his 106 chances created being a Serie A high. Similarly, his 15 assists was second only to Alejandro Gomez (16), as he helped Simone Inzaghi's men mount a title challenge. Often linked with a return home to Sevilla, Lazio will surely be doing everything they can to keep Luis Alberto at Stadio Olimpico.

CM: Fabian Ruiz, Napoli

The other half of a Seville-centric midfield, Real Betis product Fabian probably hasn't impressed quite as much as he did in 2018-19, but he has nevertheless continued to show plenty of promise. Still only 24, Fabian attempted the most passes (2,331) of any player in the league this season, while he had a hand in nine goals, the same amount as in the previous campaign.

AM: Alejandro Gomez, Atalanta

Like a fine wine, 'Papu' Gomez just seems to get better with age. Now 32, the Argentinian has enjoyed a fantastic season for the often-exhilarating Atalanta. He scored seven goals for a second successive season, but his haul of 16 assists is five more than 2018-19. That figure is the highest since Opta records began in 2004-05.

FWD: Paulo Dybala, Juventus

The Sarri-Juventus combination continues to puzzle many, but if there's one thing he has got right, it's helping Dybala get back to something resembling his best. He had been strongly linked with a move away last year, but Dybala was involved in 17 Serie A goals this term (11 goals, six assists) and managed to coexist with Ronaldo more effectively. Of his 11 strikes, eight (73 per cent) were the opening goals of matches, the biggest quantity among players with 10 or more.

FWD: Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus

Considering there being murmurs of discontent between himself and Sarri, and suggestions the coach hasn't been able to get the best out of the Portugal great, Ronaldo's had a pretty effective year. With 31 league goals, it's been his best goal-scoring campaign domestically since getting 35 with Real Madrid in 2015-16, while his goals have secured 24 points, more than any other player.

FWD: Ciro Immobile, Lazio

What a season Immobile has had. With 36 league goals, the Italy international equalled Gonzalo Higuain's record for a single campaign, while that haul also won him the coveted European Golden Shoe. On top of that, his record of nine assists was bettered by only Gomez, Luis Alberto and Domenico Berardi. If he can keep it up, Lazio will surely fancy themselves of challenging Juve again next term.

Cristiano Ronaldo appears committed to at least another season with Juventus as he wants to win a third Scudetto with the club.

Ronaldo joined Juve from Real Madrid in a shock €100million transfer two years ago and has maintained strong form despite seemingly entering the twilight years of his career.

The 35-year-old scored 21 Serie A goals in 2018-19, before bettering that by 10 this term as Juve clinched a ninth successive league crown.

Mild speculation had suggested in recent months that Ronaldo might be considering moving on again, with the Portugal great and coach Maurizio Sarri reportedly enduring a rocky relationship at times this season.

But Ronaldo has given an indication that he plans to stay for the 2020-21 season.

Writing in an Instagram post published after Juve lifted the Serie A trophy on Saturday, Ronaldo said: "Happy to win the last two of the nine consecutive Serie A titles for Juventus!

"It seems easy but it isn't! Year after year with talent, dedication and hard work you can achieve your goals and be better than before! Let's go for my third."

Juve could yet end a 24-year wait for Champions League success this season as well. The two-time European champions last won the trophy in the 1995-96 season.

The Old Lady head into Friday's last-16 second-leg clash with Lyon 1-0 down, but will fancy their chances of overturning that deficit in Turin given their opponents have played just one competitive match - Friday's penalty shoot-out defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de la Ligue final - since March.

Could Kasper Schmeichel follow in his father's footsteps?

Peter Schmeichel earned legendary status at Manchester United after winning five Premier League titles and the Champions League during his time at the club.

Now, Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper is being linked with a sensational move to the Theatre of Dreams.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED CONSIDER SCHMEICHEL MOVE

Manchester United are lining up a transfer swoop for Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to replace David de Gea, according to The Sun.

De Gea's position at United has come under threat following a slump in form for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, despite being contracted until 2023.

There have been calls for Dean Henderson, who has spent time on loan at Sheffield United, to return Old Trafford, however, Kasper – the son of Red Devils legend Peter – is reportedly seen as the perfect ready-made option.

 

ROUND-UP

Paris Saint-Germain are preparing a bid for Bayern Munich star Thiago Alcantara, says Le10Sport. Thiago has been tipped to join Premier League champions Liverpool, however, Ligue 1 holders PSG are believed to be in the mix for his signature.

- TF1 reports United have made contact with Monaco about a potential move for 19-year-old centre-back Benoit Badiashile, who has also been linked to Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen.

- According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona have ruled out a swap deal that would see Ivan Rakitic move to Juventus in exchange for Rodrigo Bentancur.

Milan have opened talks with Tottenham over the signing of right-back Serge Aurier, reports Sky Sport journalist Fabrizio Romano.

Juve are willing to offer Federico Bernardeschi and Cristian Romero to Serie A rivals Roma as part of a deal to sign Italian star Nicolo Zaniolo, claims SportMediaset. Zaniolo has also been linked to Madrid, Tottenham and former club Inter.

- Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga is willing to wait for a Madrid move until 2021-22, Marca claims. The 17-year-old has been heavily linked to the LaLiga champions as well as PSG.

Maurizio Sarri believes "a little fear can do us good" after seeing Juventus prepare for their crucial Champions League tie against Lyon by losing 3-1 to Roma on the final weekend of the Serie A season.

Juve saw a 39-match unbeaten home league run dating back to April 2018 ended as Diego Perotti scored twice after setting up Nikola Kalinic to cancel out Gonzalo Higuain's opener at the Allianz Stadium.

The Bianconeri were crowned champions for the ninth straight season despite winning just two of their final eight league matches, with head coach Sarri conceding his team dropped mentally after beating Lazio on July 20.

Sarri acknowledges Juve face a tricky task against a Lyon side who won the first leg of their last-16 clash 1-0 before the coronavirus pandemic halted the tie, but feels their recent struggles may end up focusing minds.

"A little fear can do us good. After Lazio we felt the championship was won and we had a mental decline," Sarri told Sky Sport Italia. 

"Now we have to be good at having an opponent's consideration. We will start from 1-0 [down] and it will be very difficult in these conditions."

On Friday, Lyon played their first competitive fixture since March due to Ligue 1 opting not to complete the remainder of the campaign amid the health crisis.

It ended in disappointment as Paris Saint-Germain won a penalty shoot-out to win the last ever Coupe de la Ligue final but Sarri was impressed by Lyon's competitiveness.

"I was surprised that they are very well physically. It doesn't look like a team that hasn't played in a long time," he added.

"We have to be good at recharging ourselves mentally. The physical ones recover in two or three days. We have pulled the plug for a few days and from Monday we will have to be good at recovering."

Paulo Dybala was again absent for Juve against Roma as he contends with a thigh issue and Sarri says the Argentina forward will be monitored carefully in training.

"Paulo is doing quite well. Tomorrow we try to bring him to the field and see the reactions," he said. 

Diego Perotti scored twice and set up another as Roma ended Juventus' long unbeaten home Serie A run with a 3-1 win just six days before the Bianconeri's crucial Champions League tie with Lyon.

Gonzalo Higuain had put Juve in front in Saturday's Serie A finale but Perotti set up Nikola Kalinic's equaliser and put Roma ahead from the penalty spot before half-time at the Allianz Stadium.

The winger gave fifth-placed Roma a cushion early in the second half as Juventus succumbed to a first home Serie A defeat since a 1-0 reverse to Napoli in April 2018 – a run of 39 games.

It means champions Juve, who rested several players including Cristiano Ronaldo, finish the campaign with back-to-back losses before aiming to overturn a last-16 deficit against Ligue 1 Lyon.

Higuain turned in from close range just six minutes in after pouncing on Adrien Rabiot's flick from Federico Bernardeschi's corner.

Juve were undone by a corner themselves, though, as Kalinic nonchalantly converted Perotti's delivery.

Gianluca Frabotta - making a first Juve appearance - dragged wide, while fellow youngster Riccardo Calafiori rifled home at the other end, only for the ball to have gone out of play from the preceding corner.

Calafiori then drew the foul from Danilo for Perotti's penalty to find the bottom-right corner and put Roma ahead.

Perotti stretched the lead seven minutes into the second half, sweeping home inside the area – via a deflection off Merih Demiral – after collecting Nicolo Zaniolo's perfectly weighted pass.

Aaron Ramsey hit the post with a sweet effort and Higuain nearly found the bottom-left corner with a 20-yard strike.

But Roma had other chances themselves, with Davide Zappacosta shooting narrowly wide and Wojciech Szczesny made a couple of decent saves as Juve faltered before a huge Champions League showdown.


What does it mean? Juve out of form for Lyon

That Juve ultimately cantered to a ninth straight title and still only finished one point above Inter tells a story about a side who won the trophy but have often underwhelmed this term.

Maurizio Sarri's men won just two of their final eight games and significant improvement is needed if they are to get past Lyon and into the Champions League quarter-finals.

Perotti perfect

It was a fine outing for Perotti, whose corner – while poorly defended by Juve – was there to be attacked. His cool penalty then preceded more calm for his third goal, which was set up by the equally classy Zaniolo.

Danil-woe for Juve

There were several poor performers for Juve but full-back Danilo typified a shoddy outing, giving away the penalty for Roma to move ahead and generally being given a torrid time by Perotti.

What's next?

All eyes are on the Champions League and Lyon for Juve now, while Roma have a one-legged tie in the last 16 of the Europa League against Sevilla to prepare for.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been rested by Juventus for Saturday's match against Roma to protect the talisman ahead of the Champions League campaign.

Juventus named their squad ahead of the final game in their latest Serie A title-winning campaign, with Ronaldo notably absent from a 24-player group.

Maurizio Sarri's team are set to be presented with the Scudetto trophy at the Allianz Stadium, but Ronaldo will not be required to play as Juventus give him a well-earned break.

They have a crunch European game against Lyon coming up on Friday, with Juventus needing to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Ronaldo has been ever-present for Juventus in Serie A since the return of Italian football from its coronavirus-enforced break in June, the 35-year-old taking his goal tally to 31 in the league to drive Juve towards their ninth successive title.

His hopes of finishing as the league's top scorer are over, however, with Lazio's prolific Ciro Immobile four goals clear of the Portuguese superstar.

 SQUAD LIST | The called-up Bianconeri for #JuveRoma #FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuve #Stron9er pic.twitter.com/E71qBqxwjy

— JuventusFC (#Stron9er ) (@juventusfcen) August 1, 2020

Philippe Coutinho has reportedly been offered to two Premier League clubs, while Manchester City are eyeing Sergi Roberto.

Coutinho is expected to leave Barcelona on a permanent deal this close season.

A return to the Premier League has been mooted for the playmaker, and it could be getting closer.

 

TOP STORY – COUTINHO OFFERED TO TWO PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS

Coutinho has been offered to both Arsenal and Tottenham, according to The Independent.

The report says Arsenal look the more likely to complete a deal for the Brazil international.

Coutinho has been on loan at Bayern Munich this season, having struggled since arriving at Barcelona from Liverpool in 2018.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City are linked with a surprise deal. Sport reports the Premier League giants are interested in Barcelona's Sergi Roberto, who wants to remain at Camp Nou.

- Out of contract next year, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been linked with a move from Arsenal. The Daily Mail reports Chelsea, who face Arsenal in the FA Cup final on Saturday, were sounded out about a move for the forward in January.

- Inter continue to be linked with a move for Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the Serie A giants are offering star defender Milan Skriniar to Spurs in their bid to land Ndombele.

- After struggling at Manchester City, John Stones is reportedly set for a move. The Sun reports the defender is poised for a £20million move to West Ham, where he would reunite with former Everton manager David Moyes.

- Sami Khedira's time at Juventus could be over. CalcioMercato reports Juve are negotiating to terminate the midfielder's contract.

- Real Madrid left-back Sergio Reguilon, who has been on loan at Sevilla, is attracting plenty of interest. Sky Sports says Everton lead the race for Reguilon after submitting a bid of £18million (€20m).

Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri may choose to rest Cristiano Ronaldo for the final Serie A game of the season against Roma.

Juve have already secured the Scudetto, their ninth in a row, and are just a week away from the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Lyon, with a 1-0 deficit to overturn.

Ronaldo has not missed a game since the return of Italian football from the coronavirus-enforced break in June, the 35-year-old having taken his goal tally to 31 in the league to propel Juve to the title.

However, with Lazio striker Ciro Immobile four goals clear in the race to finish as top scorer, Sarri could give Ronaldo and others a well-deserved rest ahead of the Lyon clash.

Midfielder Aaron Ramsey may feature with a view to being fully fit to face the Ligue 1 side next week, although Paulo Dybala's recovery from a thigh problem is ongoing.

"We'll assess [who will play] today and tomorrow morning, depending on who needs to rest and who is fit to play," Sarri said on Friday.

"Between tomorrow and next Friday there will be a big difference in terms of mentality. We'll need to be good at recovering all energies possible.

"Tomorrow, whoever is fit will play and we'll try to make it a day of celebration. I can see two light-hearted teams tomorrow evening, with clear heads: a beautiful game can come out of it.

"Let's see how Cristiano feels for tomorrow, he's one of the players that played the most in the entire season. With regards to Aaron Ramsey, he might be back with the team today and there are good possibilities that he plays in the Champions League.

"Dybala is with the medical staff, everything is proceeding well, but I don't know when he'll be back with the group."

Andrea Pirlo has returned to Juventus to take over as the coach of their under-23s side, the Serie A champions have announced.

Pirlo spent four years at Juve between 2011 and 2015, helping the Bianconeri to four Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia triumph and two Supercoppa Italiana victories.

The playmaker left for MLS side New York City, spending three seasons at the club before retiring in 2017.

Now, Pirlo has taken his first step into coaching, returning to Juve to take over their U23s.

Juve's U23s finished 10th in Italy's third tier last season, while winning the Coppa Italia Serie C.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be back in black and white stripes next season as Juventus revealed their home kit for the 2020-21 campaign.

Ronaldo scored the opener as a 2-0 win over Sampdoria on Sunday propelled Juve to their ninth successive Serie A title.

Juve had dropped their traditional black-and-white striped kit for this season, instead going with a block colour design.

However, the stripes – in a "painted" design – will return as Juve hunt a 10th straight Scudetto next season, with Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala among the stars to model the new Adidas kit, which was released on Thursday, with the tagline: "our stripes, our statement."

With the current season still not over in Italy, it has not yet been confirmed when the next Serie A campaign will start.

Juve face Roma in their final league outing on Saturday, before they take on Lyon in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Paulo Dybala hopes to use the "powerful weapon" of football to bring about global change after joining the Common Goal charity initiative.

The Juventus star has followed football figures such as Juan Mata, Jurgen Klopp, Megan Rapinoe, Shinji Kagawa and team-mate Giorgio Chiellini in pledging at least one per cent of his salary.

That money goes into a fund supporting organisations using the game to advance the United Nations' sustainable development goals, such as eradicating poverty.

Dybala believes the scrutiny top-level players attract means "lots of people pay more attention to footballers than they do to presidents" and is keen to use his platform to "change the world in just a small way".

"I've given to charity before but I've always done it anonymously because the purpose is not to get publicity but to help those in need," the Argentina star told the Guardian.

"But I think to be part of this initiative, to be one of 159 people working together [at Common Goal], is important in a different way. We've come together as a group and we want to work as a team in solidarity with people less fortunate than ourselves.

"Sometimes I look at society and I see things that I would like to change. It sounds ridiculous, but I would love to be able to change the world in just a small way.

"The truth is that football is a powerful weapon. For whatever reason, the things we say are heard around the world, and lots of people pay more attention to footballers than they do to presidents and prime ministers and important politicians. I think we have to use the power we are given to send positive messages, and to be strong role models. I believe that if everyone in football came together we could give so much and achieve so much, to help people in need and to fulfil the ambitions of so many children."

Dybala, who is the first high-profile South American player to join the initiative, wants his contribution to help causes in Colombia, Germany, India, Pakistan, Israel, and Rwanda, as well as his homeland.

"I had the good fortune to get where I have, but if it hadn't happened for me I’ve no idea what I would have done. That's what I keep thinking about," said the 26-year-old.

"Many young people who dream of going into football never learn anything else, and they never know about all the alternative paths that might have been there for them. I think education is such a powerful tool for giving people a helping hand. Once a person has an education there is so much they can achieve that might otherwise have been beyond them. Football can help bring people into education, give them a future and the potential to live a full life."

Dybala has just won his fifth Serie A title in a row with Juventus, but his thoughts are now on the Champions League, with Maurizio Sarri's side trailing Lyon 1-0 ahead of the second leg of their last-16 tie.

Should they come through that, it will be destination Lisbon for Juventus, with Portugal's capital hosting a shortened and behind-closed-doors version of the tournament from the quarter-finals onwards.

Dybala described Juventus' feat of winning nine consecutive Italian titles as "incredible" and vowed they would push for a 10th next season, ideally by that stage as European champions.

He said: "It'll be strange to play in the Champions League without fans, and to play just one tie in each round, but first we have to win in Turin. For now, that's all that matters."

Maurizio Sarri claims he is pondering playing the Juventus Under-23 team against Roma this weekend because of the toll a hectic Serie A schedule has taken on his squad.

Juve were crowned Serie A champions for a ninth successive season when they beat Sampdoria 2-0 on Sunday, but a much-changed XI went down by the same scoreline at Cagliari on Wednesday.

Six days after the conclusion of their domestic season on Saturday, Sarri's men must try to overturn a 1-0 last-16 deficit against Lyon in the Champions League.

"The problem is that that we are the only team in Europe who will have to play five times in 12 days," head coach Sarri told DAZN, having seen Juventus win only two of their past seven top-flight matches.

"We'll see how we are tomorrow [Thursday] and whether we ought to field the Under-23 team in its entirety at the weekend, so that everyone can get a bit of rest.

"We had nine players left at home with injuries today, so obviously I've got some doubts ahead of Lyon. We’ll have to see who recovers."

One player not spared 90 minutes in Sardinia was Cristiano Ronaldo, who toiled in vain as he tried to close the four-goal gap Lazio's Ciro Immobile has opened up at the top of the Capocannoniere standings.

"Speaking to him yesterday [Tuesday], he was very motivated, wanted to play, was really enthusiastic and felt good," Sarri said of his 35-year-old top scorer.

"We made the decision together, he knows his body better than anyone."

First-half goals from Luca Gagliano and Giovanni Simeone gave Cagliari a deserved 2-0 victory over Serie A champions Juventus.

Juve wrapped up their ninth consecutive title with a 2-0 win over Sampdoria at the weekend, although patchy recent form means Maurizio Sarri's side have now won only two of their past seven matches.

A vibrant Cagliari were the beneficiaries on this occasion, with Gagliano giving them an early lead to set them on the way to a first July win at the ninth and final attempt.

It proved a frustrating night for Cristiano Ronaldo, while Simeone – the son of Atletico Madrid boss Diego – came up with a superb finish worthy of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner in first-half stoppage time.

Gianluigi Buffon was back in the Juventus starting line-up and picking the ball out of his net in the eighth minute, when Federico Mattiello drove Paolo Farago's right-wing cross back across goal for Gagliano to finish from close range.

Ronaldo – engaged in what appears to be an increasingly futile pursuit of Ciro Immobile in the Capocannoniere stakes – touched in Federico Bernardeschi's stabbed throughball from an offside position and racked up four blocked attempts by the interval.

Gonzalo Higuain volleyed over from Bernardeschi's 38th-minute corner before Juve found themselves further beyond due to Simeone's sublime 20-yard drive.

Joao Pedro sent a shot from similar range skimming wide early in the second half before Buffon plunged to keep out a Simeone volley – the defence in front of the veteran gloveman continuing to look terribly disjointed.

Atalanta-bound Simone Muratore had a long-range effort saved by Cagliari keeper Alessio Cragno, who also got down sharply to keep out Ronaldo's left-footer from 25 yard in the 68th minute.

Simeone might have added to his tally and Juve's misery when he sliced wide before the visitors pounded at the Cagliari defence with diminishing return until the final whistle.

 

What does it mean? Sarri has steepening Champions League task

The more Juventus turn in performances like this, the less their schedule of competitive action before the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Lyon feels like an advantage.

The Ligue 1 side have, of course, been out of action since March as they prepare to defend a 1-0 lead in Turin next month. Sarri badly needs his team to find some rhythm, something an experimental line-up entirely ruled out in Sardinia.

Simeone back in the groove

The moment of defining quality was produced by Simeone as he sized up a backpedalling Leonardo Bonucci before lashing beyond a helpless Buffon. It was his 12th goal of the Serie A season – closing on the 14 he scored in a breakout 2017-18 at Fiorentina.

That form proved good enough to earn international honours, but the last of his five caps also came in 2018. At 25, he still has plenty of time to get back on track.

Record man Ronaldo falls flat

Ronaldo is two shy of chalking up the most prolific Serie A season in Juventus history even if Immobile is now surely out of reach. But he was brought to Turin to help bring Champions League glory.

The sight of that wider goal appeared to be lost by all concerned as Sarri indulged a spiralling shot count and another 90 minutes in the legs for the 35-year-old.

What's next

Juventus wrap up their Serie A season at home to Roma on Saturday, when Cagliari are on the road at in-form Milan.

Cristiano Ronaldo is football's equivalent to basketball legend Michael Jordan, according to Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard.

NBA icon Jordan won six championships across two stints with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s and was crowned MVP on five occasions.

By comparison, five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has clinched seven league titles in three different countries, most recently helping Juventus to back-to-back Scudettos.

And Lingard, who was part of United's academy during Ronaldo's time at Old Trafford, believes the Portugal international is football's answer to Jordan.

"I have to say Cristiano Ronaldo," he told Sky Sports when asked to pick a footballer who can be likened to Jordan.

"Everything he has achieved in his career. He has been at plenty of clubs and won many trophies. I believe he is a real icon of football, the Michael Jordan of football."

Lingard never played in the same side as Ronaldo in a competitive game but was on opposing sides to the forward in United's 2-1 Champions League win against Juve last season.

But the England international insists the former Real Madrid superstar has not posed him too many problems in the years since he left United.

"I have played against him a few times. Did he give me trouble? No, he wasn't too bad, to be fair," he said. 

"There was one game in pre-season where he came on and you could see the skills and the qualities that he brought.

"When he first came to Manchester United, I was 11 or 12. We did a skills DVD and it was him teaching us skills which was good. 

"That was the first time I had seen him. He was young and skinny when he came to the club."

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