There was a certain inevitability about Maurizio Sarri's fate once Juventus were knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Lyon.

Sure, the swiftness of Juve's decision caught some off guard but not even winning the Serie A title is enough to assuage the Bianconeri board nowadays.

After nine straight Serie A titles that should not really be a surprise, and most observers would acknowledge Juve's success this season had as much to do with their rivals' failures as it did their own merits.

But how do the numbers back up such an assertion? Well, using Opta data we compared Juve's solitary Serie A season under Sarri to their final campaign under Massimiliano Allegri in 2018-19 to try and shed some light.


IMPROVEMENTS IN ATTACK?

As you would perhaps expect to see, Juve's stats suggest they were a little more inclined to go for the jugular under Sarri.

Indeed, the 76 goals, 501 shots and 243 shots on target are all higher than last season, when they registered 70, 451 and 201 in the respective areas.

But the numbers also hint at Juve not being quite as clinical as they could have been. In 2018-19, Juve converted 43 big chances and missed 42 for a big-chance conversion rate 50.59 per cent.

Looking at the same metrics under Sarri, Juve again scored 43 of their big chances but missed a disappointing 52, bringing their rate down to 45.26 per cent.

Indeed, their shot-conversion rate also dipped, albeit the drop was less noticeable, falling from 15.52 to 15.17 per cent.

One area where Juve did improve is one that would make sense given Sarri's style. The Bianconeri scored six goals from fast breaks and had 31 fast breaks in total, compared to three and 16 the season before.


PASSING THE SARRI TEST?

Sarri was employed in part to bring an attractive style of football to match a winning team at Juve. Of course, a simple eye test may suggest he was not exactly successful at doing so.

But the stats do suggest Sarri was at least making progress with this end game.

Juve created more chances and big chances (503 and 66 compared to 476 and 60), while there were 47 assists in total, slightly up from 44.

Their passing stats improved as well. A passing accuracy of 87.97 is better than the 86.24 of last term, while the same metric in their own and the opposition half was higher (92.04 and 85.13 per cent against 91.44 and 86.24). This was despite attempting more passes this season (21,727 to 20,092).

Overall, Juve also spent more time in possession of the ball, rising from 56.22 to 58.31 per cent.


NOT MUCH CASE FOR THE DEFENCE

Unfortunately, while Sarri could feasibly argue Juve had made progress going forward, the case for the defence is not nearly as strong.

Juve conceded 43 goals this term, a pretty big increase from the 30 in the last term under Allegri, while they also kept four fewer clean sheets (12 as opposed to 16).

Duel success was down only a smidgen from 53 to 52.53, while there was a bigger plunge in tackle success – that figure going from 62.11 to 59.

Additionally, there were fewer recoveries (2163 down to 2030), aerial successes (557 down to 448), blocks (128 down to 117) and possession wins (1,945 down to 1,811).

Juventus did not make as many errors leading to shots (14 down from 16) but did make six errors leading to goals, two more than the four in 2018-19.

This defensive dip can be perhaps partly explained by the longer spells of possession but it still does not reflect particularly well for Sarri.


BETTER THAN CHELSEA, WORSE THAN NAPOLI?

Sarri's Napoli side were revered across the continent but the same cannot be truly said of his teams at Chelsea or Juve, albeit the latter two ventures only lasted one season each.

At Napoli, Sarri oversaw 98 wins in 148 games across all competitions, giving him a win percentage of 66.2 with the Partenopei.

With Chelsea, where Sarri won a first major honour in the 2018-19 Europa League, he celebrated 39 wins in 63 games as his win percentage dropped to 61.9.

It climbed back up to 65.4 with Juve, where Sarri was a victor 34 times in 52 matches – but ultimately it was enough to convince the Bianconeri's hierarchy.

With the announcement that the 2020 Ballon d'Or will not be awarded this year due to the coronavirus-enforced break in play, Robert Lewandowski will feel pretty hard done by.

By the end of June, Lewandowski's goals had propelled Bayern Munich to a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double. His goals in the league (34 in total) made him the highest single-season foreign goalscorer in history. With another six goals in the Pokal – including two in the final to seal the deal in a 4-2 win against Bayer Leverkusen – and 11 more in the Champions League, Lewandowski has scored more goals in all competitions than any other player across Europe's top five leagues this season. 

For Lewandowski, it has been undoubtedly the best season of his career. Remarkably, the 31-year-old is averaging a goal every 74 minutes and he has already scored 11 more than last year and eight more than in his previous personal best (43 goals in 2016-17).

The consistency of Lewandowski's production is phenomenal. Since 2015-16, he has scored 40 or more goals in every season. The only player who has kept pace with the Pole is a certain Lionel Messi, but the Barcelona star will need to score an unlikely 10 more times to hit the 40-goal milestone in 2019-20.

 

In his 285 competitive games for Bayern, Lewandowski has hit a total of 242 goals, averaging a goal every 99 minutes. This is a goalscoring machine at its best.

Lewandowski has taken his game to another level this season. After being the top scorer in the Bundesliga (34) and in the Pokal (6), the Bayern marksman is also the leading scorer in the Champions League (11). He could become the first player since Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2002-03 to take home a hat-trick of golden boots in league, cup and European action. Neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Lionel Messi have ever achieved this.

So, what's his secret?

 

ELITE IN THE BOX

Since joining Bayern back in 2014, Lewandowski has increased his expected goals (xG) total each season. This campaign, he is averaging a staggering 1.1 xG every 90 minutes. Put simply, the chances Lewandowski attempts are worth over one goal every game. This figure is nearly double as many as in his first season at Bayern (0.6). His consistently high xG values show that his impressive goal tally is not just a product of overperforming, but rather the result of generating good goalscoring opportunities.

 

Year after year, Lewandowski gets himself in better goalscoring positions. He has perfected the art of creating space and chances for himself in crucial areas of the pitch. The below graphic illustrates this perfectly: look at the cluster of shots he has taken in this season's Champions League.

 

In the current Champions League campaign, no player has scored as many non-penalty goals (10) or taken shots from higher quality chances (8.6 xG) as Lewandowski. As the size of the dots shows, Lewandowski is mainly taking shots from good-quality locations with a high xG value and avoids shooting from further afield.

THE COMPLETE FORWARD

Lewandowski is the target man in Bayern's attack, but he is far more than a poacher – he is a crucial cog in their build-up play.

In the 2019-20 Bundesliga campaign, Lewandowski was involved in a league-high 43 open-play sequences that ended with a goal. If we remove those sequences in which Lewandowski himself scored (27), he was involved in 16 open-play sequences that ended in a goal scored by one of his team-mates, the highest value among all strikers in the competition.

 

Indeed, while Lewandowski has registered only four assists in the latest Bundesliga season, we can use expected assists (xA) to analyse how many assists Lewandowski should have had based on the quality of his passes. According to this metric, Lewandowski's open-play passes in the recent league season were worth seven assists, so he was unfortunate not to have three more assists to add to his total of four.

 

His total of 7.1 xA this campaign is his highest tally.  The 31-year-old has massively improved his creative abilities over the past two years, nearly increasing his xA value threefold (he registered 2.8 xA in 2017-18).

A complete forward, Lewandowski works for the team, creates chances for his team-mates and is heavily involved in build-up play. Bayern's last Champions League game in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie with Chelsea can be used as an ideal example of Lewandowski's all-around qualities. He was everywhere.

 

Lewandowski's touches at Stamford Bridge on February 25 (from left to right)

In that game, Lewandowski recorded two assists in a single Champions League match for the first time in his career, assisting the first two Bayern goals for Serge Gnabry before scoring the last himself to seal a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge. 

Perhaps 2020 would have been Lewandowski's best chance to become just the second player other than Messi and Ronaldo to win the Ballon d'Or since 2008, but the way his game is improving every season – coupled with the inevitable decline of Messi and Ronaldo – means the Poland goalscoring machine will likely have another crack at the accolade in 2021 and beyond.

Juventus and Real Madrid will fight for their Champions League futures needing to come from behind on Friday.

Madrid were ahead in their last-16 tie against Manchester City, but a Kevin De Bruyne penalty secured a 2-1 advantage that the Premier League side will defend at the Etihad Stadium.

Juve sealed their ninth consecutive Serie A title last month but stumbled towards the end of the domestic campaign.

Maurizio Sarri will look towards the prolific Cristiano Ronaldo on his favourite stage as they seek to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Lyon in Turin.

As those four sides eye up a place in the final stages in Lisbon, here are key Opta facts.

Juventus v Lyon

0 - Juventus are unbeaten in their two home European games against Lyon, winning 2-1 in the Europa League in April 2014 and drawing 1-1 in the Champions League in November 2016.

- Lyon have lost four of their past five European matches in Italy (D1 L4) since winning 2-1 at Fiorentina in the Champions League in November 2008. They are also winless in 10 away knockout games since beating PSV in February 2006, failing to score in six of those.

18 - Ronaldo has scored 18 goals in his last 12 home Champions League knockout matches, with this run including four hat-tricks. He claimed the matchball when Juve overturned a first-leg deficit at the same stage against Atletico Madrid last season.

- Since the start of last season only Memphis Depay (10) has been involved in more Champions League goals for Lyon than Houssem Aouar (one goal and six assists). The 22-year-old Aouar has as many assists as Lionel Messi in the competition during that period.

Manchester City v Real Madrid

5 - Madrid have won five of their 11 away Champions League games in England (W5 D3 L3), beating four different teams (Manchester United, Leeds United, Liverpool and Spurs). The only two teams to win away at five or more different English teams in the Champions League are Bayern Munich (five) and Barcelona (seven).

28 - Pep Guardiola has won 28 Champions League knockout matches, more than any other manager in the competition’s history. The City boss is looking to become the third manager to eliminate Madrid in the knockout stage more than once, along with Marcello Lippi (1995-96, 2002-03) and Ottmar Hitzfeld (2000-01, 2006-07).

12 - Zinedine Zidane could be eliminated from a Champions League knockout tie for the first time, having been victorious in the previous 12. Zidane has won just two of his six Champions League games against English teams.

14 - Gabriel Jesus headed City's equaliser at the Santiago Bernabeu. He has been directly involved in 14 goals in 16 Champions League starts (12 goals, two assists), finding the net in three of his four starts in the knockout stages.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been in fine fettle since football returned from its coronavirus-enforced break. The same cannot be said for Barcelona and Juventus.

Juve won a ninth Serie A title in a row, of course, but a run of two wins in eight games to end the domestic season was not exactly sparkling form. They also lost the Coppa Italia final to Napoli.

As for Barca, a two-point lead when LaLiga restarted became a five-point deficit to Real Madrid by the end, as Zinedine Zidane's side took back the title.

Messi made it perfectly clear in a rather disgruntled outburst that, if they do not improve, they will not progress to the Champions League quarter-finals, having drawn 1-1 at Napoli in the first leg. It's worse for Juve; they must overcome a 1-0 deficit to Lyon if they are to make the last eight.

As the numbers show, Messi and Ronaldo might need to be at their best if we're to see them in the next round in Lisbon...

MAGIC MESSI

Even with Luis Suarez's return, Messi was largely a lone bright spark in the Barca attack post-lockdown.

With six goals and nine assists in 11 league appearances, he took his tally for the season to 40 goal involvements in 42 outings and broke former team-mate Xavi's record for assists in a single LaLiga campaign when he reached 21.

Prior to lockdown, Messi was averaging one big chance created per game in the league, and that actually increased after the restart - he managed 14 in his 11 outings. His passing accuracy, too, was largely stable, dropping by just 0.3 per cent on average.

Interestingly, his shooting became a little more wayward, his shot accuracy dipping to just 45.7 per cent from a seasonal average of 68.5. Likewise, his dribble success rate slipped to 59.3, having been at 66.2 prior to the shutdown.

RELENTLESS RONALDO

Ronaldo scored 21 in 22 Serie A appearances pre-lockdown, with three assists to boot. That form stayed largely consistent after the restart, with 10 goals and two assists in 11 games.

Creating chances has been a limited part of Ronaldo's game in recent years but his numbers in that regard are solid, with three big chances created after lockdown and six before.

His passing accuracy in all competitions went up (87.1 per cent compared to 84.2 pre-lockdown), while his shooting accuracy (53.6 from 54.8) and his dribble success rate (50 from 57.3) went down - just like Messi. Perhaps the long season began to creep up on them.

TWO TEAMS IN TROUBLE

There's no doubt Barca and Juve would find themselves in some difficulty if Messi and Ronaldo become suddenly unavailable. Their form just isn't strong enough.

Pre-lockdown, Barca had played 38 games in all competitions, scoring 82 goals and conceding 41; afterwards, they played 11 league matches, scored 23 and conceded seven. That's consistent enough.

The problem is more in the way they have been playing. Their average possession went up after lockdown to 70.1 from 64.9, but shooting accuracy fell a massive 13.2 per cent to 48.7 and their shot conversion rate dropped from 22.5 to 19.7. Teams were happier to give up the ball and sit back, confident they could keep Barca (largely) at bay.

As for Juve, they scored 71 goals and let in 34 in 37 games before the pause, and while they scored 26 in 14 afterwards, they conceded a truly worrying 19.

Like Barca, their shooting accuracy fell (45.8 from 49.1), as did their shot conversion rate (13.5 from 15.9). They also averaged 2.6 per cent less possession after lockdown - not a great look for Sarri-ball - and won just twice on the road (they won 10 away games before the break).

Juve might have held on in the title race, but they, like Barca, have been getting worse since the season restarted. A strong challenge to win the Champions League will depend on some fairly substantial improvement - or a number of magical moments from their main men.

When Pakistan were previously in England for a Test series, Babar Azam saw a promising start cut short by a bad break.  

The batsman made a half-century in the opening game at Lord’s in May 2018, but his involvement in the series was painfully cut short when struck on the left arm by a Ben Stokes short ball.  

Forced to retire hurt with 68 to his name, Babar did not appear again during the tour. A fracture ended his contribution as the tourists triumphed at the home of cricket, while he had to watch on as his side were crushed in the second Test at Headingley. 

At that stage of his career, Babar was viewed as a limited-overs specialist still making his way in the Test arena. With an average under 25 prior to playing England, he was – at the age of 23 – a player with obvious potential working out how to play the game of patience.

Just over two years on, he returns to England having enhanced his reputation to such an extent that the so-called 'Fab Four' - Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson - have company. It is unclear who identifies as the cricketing versions of Paul, John, Ringo and George, but Babar is not like the fifth Beatle – his identity is clear.

Start a discussion with cricket fans over who should be considered the lead act in the group and you are opening a cricketing can of worms. It is a topic that, understandably, stirs up national pride, but also heated discussions about the weight of importance given to each format. 

What is not up for debate, however, is that Babar deserves to be in the conversation. His white-ball numbers are outstanding – he averages over 50 in Twenty20 and one-dayers for Pakistan – yet his Test statistics in recent times provide additional evidence for those keen to argue his case.  

Indeed, his average of 75.9 across his 12 Test knocks since the start of 2019 is the best rate of any batsman to have 10 or more innings during that period. Better than Kohli, despite the India captain piling on the runs at home against South Africa, including a career-best 254 not out. Better even than Smith, whose Ashes heroics last year were so crucial in helping Australia retain the urn on English soil.  

He also sits above the same pairing when it comes to contributing for his team, providing an astonishing 22 per cent of Pakistan’s total Test runs over the period. There is clearly substance to the style now, a determined streak to go with the eye-catching technique.  

Ricky Ponting, the former Australia captain, tipped Babar to become one of the best in the world at the start of the year; he was a little late to get on board a bandwagon that now offers standing room only. 

"I think he is right up there already," Azhar Ali, Pakistan's Test skipper, said on the eve of the series opener with England at Old Trafford. 

"His performances have improved massively in Test matches over the last year or so. Firstly, he was performing really well in white-ball cricket and people thought he was only a white-ball player, but he took on that challenge and played with a lot of freedom and flair.” 

Babar's career totals do not stand up to the sheer volume scored by Kohli, Root, Smith and Williamson - at least not yet. Still, since 2018, he sits above the quartet in terms of Test average (65.5) and strike-rate (63.2 runs per 100 deliveries).

That stretch includes a memorable maiden hundred on home soil. While rain ruined the spectacle of the first Test played in Pakistan for over a decade, Babar brightened up the final day against Sri Lanka in Rawalpindi with an unbeaten 102 that delighted the crowd who had patiently waited to see their team return.  

Scores of 60 not out, 100 and 143 followed in the remainder of a truncated series, all from a player who did not reach three figures until his 17th Test. 

Prior to that breakthrough innings against New Zealand in November 2018, Babar had managed an unspectacular 822 runs at 30.4. Since then, though, there have been four more three-figure scores in 10 games, plus a 97 in a losing cause against Australia in Adelaide when no colleagues were willing to stick around in support. 

Pakistan are likely to lean on him heavily again in England, particularly as they come up against a team brimming with fast-bowling options and fresh off a 2-1 series victory over West Indies. 

Babar's development - including a highly productive Cricket World Cup campaign last year on English soil, as well as finishing top run-scorer in the T20 Blast while playing for Somerset - suggests he will relish the challenge.

The head-to-head battle with Root will be one of the main storylines, too. England's captain has much on his plate in the coming weeks, including fathoming out a way to nullify the brilliant Babar, who has stylishly climbed his way into the top tier of international batsmen.

When Ferran Torres scored the fourth and final goal of Valencia's 4-1 Champions League win over Lille in November, he further enhanced his burgeoning reputation and announced himself to another mass of admirers.

While the goal mattered little in the grand scheme of the match, and it was hardly a contest likely to draw in all of the indecisive neutrals, it gave him his own slice of history, becoming the first player born in 2000 to net a Champions League goal for a Spanish club.

His cool, top-corner finish after an incisive run into the box will have been met with nods of approval from those being alerted to Torres' potential.

While the skilful and direct winger wasn't exactly an unknown quantity at that point, it was an early landmark in a career that looks set for many, and now he is headed for the glamour of the Premier League and Manchester City.

CITY'S DECISIVE SWOOP

Torres and his sister Arantxa have a tattoo in common. "An anchor. It was a reminder for us not to let ourselves be sunk by anything or anyone," she told OTRO last year.

Perhaps that should have served as a portentous warning to Valencia during their ultimately unsuccessful contract negotiations, with Torres' future long dominating headlines in the local media – he was due to become a free agent in 2021.

That, in a nutshell, is how City have managed to pull off such a coup with respect to paying a reported initial fee of £21.1million (€23m). Even with variables, the most they'll pay is thought to be in the region of £32.2m (€35m), a massive reduction on his €100m (£92m) release clause.

Local sports paper Super Deporte had remained optimistic for a while, some might say naively so, but with Champions League qualification proving well beyond Valencia, a departure long seemed unavoidable.

Even a club run as poorly as Valencia could not risk losing such an asset for nothing, yet City will certainly consider themselves to have struck a brilliant deal.

With Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Juventus all noted as keen admirers of Torres, City officials will be patting themselves on the back – it did not take them long to fill the space left by Leroy Sane.

THE EXPLOSION

Despite only being 20, 2019-20 was Torres' third season in the Valencia first-team squad and he already has 71 LaLiga appearances to his name – 26 of which were as a starter in the campaign just finished.

He had only played 12 times for Valencia's B team in the third tier before Marcelino Garcia Toral promoted him permanently to the senior side in December 2017, his LaLiga debut as the fifth-youngest player in the club's history a rare ray of sunlight as he came off the bench in the rain during a 2-1 defeat at Eibar.

"All of us within the club were sure that we were looking at a very high-level footballer," Marcelino told Panenka magazine. "It was only a matter of time before he exploded, because it was clear this player had to play. He still has a significant margin for improvement, but along with [Martin] Odegaard, for me, he is one of the revelations of the season."

His form for Spain Under-19s during last year's European Championship further highlighted his potential as he scored both goals in the 2-0 final win over Portugal to earn a spot in the Team of the Tournament.

He then established himself in Valencia's starting XI, taking full advantage of Goncalo Guedes' injury absence. While still somewhat raw, Torres has been a joy to behold with his fast dribbling and direct style.

NOT THE FINISHED ARTICLE

There's no doubting the ability Torres has to excite – after all, only five midfielders in LaLiga attempted more dribbles in 2019-20 than his 112, and when in full-flight, his combination of pace and upper-body strength make the leggy winger a formidable weapon.

Similarly, Torres is nimble and very agile, capable of jinking out of situations that appear one-sided in the defence's favour.

But he certainly hasn't hit his ceiling. Torres has many areas in which he can improve, particularly with respect to increasing his chance creation frequency.

His record of 25 opportunities crafted this term is not particularly great and is way behind Lionel Messi (89), Sergio Canales (80) and Jose Campana (73) out in front in LaLiga.

His dribble map suggests a potential reason for this, highlighting that many of his ball carry attempts are made outside of the pitch's final third.

The greater awareness he requires should come with experience. After all, it would be a bigger problem if he was struggling to ever find dangerous positions, and that simply is not the case.

He has touched the ball more times (64) in the opposing area than any of his midfield team-mates in 2019-20.

And while nine goal involvements (four goals, five assists) may not sound remarkable, that is only one fewer than Martin Odegaard – a standout performer until his injury – and no one with more than nine is younger than Torres.

He may need a little time to settle in the Premier League, but the potential is undoubtedly there and he shouldn't be plagued with suggestions of being too small, like David Silva was when he made the same move 10 years ago.

Whether Torres can have a similar impact to Silva is another matter, but the 34-year-old's success at least sets a strong precedent for talented Valencia-developed technicians leaving their mark at City.

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.

Ciro Immobile completed a sensational individual season by scoring against Napoli in Lazio's final Serie A outing.

The 30-year-old's first-half strike in Saturday's 3-1 defeat was his 36th goal in 37 top-flight appearances during 2019-20.

That astonishing return secured Immobile the Capocannoniere as Serie A's top scorer, along with the coveted European Golden Shoe.

Here, with some help from Opta Paolo, we take a look at his special efforts.

 

Joining Serie A's elite

If Immobile had managed a brace at Stadio San Paolo, he would have boasted the outright best season in Serie A history.

As it is, his 36 goals equalled the best mark in a single campaign set by Gonzalo Higuain in his Napoli days in 2015-16.

Immobile is only the fifth Italian to hit the 30-goal mark in his native country's premier competition, following Giuseppe Meazza (1929-30), Felice Borel (1933-34), Antonio Angelillo (1958-59) and Luca Toni (2005-06).

Golden days

Toni's prolific 2005-06 with Fiorentina made him the first Italian to be crowned the leading marksman in Europe, with Roma great Francesco Totti following suit the next season.

Immobile becomes the third Italian on that list and the first winner from Serie A since Totti.

In the intervening period, 10 of the 13 Golden Shoes have found predictable homes, with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo winning six and four respectively.

Messi's Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez has two, while the latter's countryman Diego Forlan came out on top thanks to a bountiful 2008-09 at Atletico Madrid.

Ronaldo's 2007-08 campaign at Manchester United and Suarez's 2013-14 for Liverpool marked the only two times the award had been outside LaLiga in between Totti and Immobile's triumphs.

Making history at Lazio

Immobile is the third player to pass 100 goals in Serie A for Lazio, with his tally now at 103.

Club greats Silvio Piola and Giuseppe Signori are the Biancocelesti's other centurions.

Piola scored 143 in Serie A, while Signori is now just four ahead of Immobile on 107.

All of Immobile's Serie A goals for Lazio have come under Simone Inzaghi, amounting to the biggest haul for any player under a single head coach during Italy's three-points-for-a-win era, which began in 1994-95.

Inzaghi is developing his leading forward's game in more than one aspect. Immobile scored and supplied at least one assist in six Serie A games in 2019-20 – more than any other campaign in his career.

He finished the season with nine assists to his name.

Ciro Immobile completed a sensational individual season by scoring against Napoli in Lazio's final Serie A outing.

The 30-year-old's first-half strike in Saturday's 3-1 defeat was his 36th goal in 37 top-flight appearances during 2019-20.

That astonishing return secured Immobile the Capocannoniere as Serie A's top scorer, along with the coveted European Golden Shoe.

Here, with some help from Opta Paolo, we take a look at his special efforts.

 

Joining Serie A's elite

If Immobile had managed a brace at Stadio San Paolo, he would have boasted the outright best season in Serie A history.

As it is, his 36 goals equalled the best mark in a single campaign set by Gonzalo Higuain in his Napoli days in 2015-16.

Immobile is only the fifth Italian to hit the 30-goal mark in his native country's premier competition, following Giuseppe Meazza (1929-30), Felice Borel (1933-34), Antonio Angelillo (1958-59) and Luca Toni (2005-06).

Golden days

Toni's prolific 2005-06 with Fiorentina made him the first Italian to be crowned the leading marksman in Europe, with Roma great Francesco Totti following suit the next season.

Immobile becomes the third Italian on that list and the first winner from Serie A since Totti.

In the intervening period, 10 of the 13 Golden Boots have found predictable homes, with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo winning six and four respectively.

Messi's Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez has two, while the latter's countryman Diego Forlan came out on top thanks to a bountiful 2008-09 at Atletico Madrid.

Ronaldo's 2007-08 campaign at Manchester United and Suarez's 2013-14 for Liverpool marked the only two times the award had been outside LaLiga in between Totti and Immobile's triumphs.

Making history at Lazio

Immobile is the third player to pass 100 goals in Serie A for Lazio, with his tally now at 103.

Club greats Silvio Piola and Giuseppe Signori are the Biancocelesti's other centurions.

Piola scored 143 in Serie A, while Signori is now just four ahead of Immobile on 107.

All of Immobile's Serie A goals for Lazio have come under Simone Inzaghi, amounting to the biggest haul for any player under a single head coach during Italy's three-points-for-a-win era, which began in 1994-95.

Inzaghi is developing his leading forward's game in more than one aspect. Immobile scored and supplied at least one assist in six Serie A games in 2019-20 – more than any other campaign in his career.

He finished the season with nine assists to his name.

We could well be talking about Saturday's FA Cup showdown between Arsenal and Chelsea as the Olivier Giroud final.

The France striker will likely start for the Blues against his old club at Wembley after scoring twice in the semi-final win over Manchester United to take his tally in the competition to 16, a number only Sergio Aguero (19) can better since Giroud's debut.

Giroud has gone from a bit-part back-up looking for an exit to a crucial element of Frank Lampard's plans in 2020, particularly since the restart of football in England. As well as firing his side into the FA Cup final, he scored six Premier League goals - including vital ones against Aston Villa and Norwich City - to help his side secure a top-four finish.

"Now he is getting the absolute credit he deserves," Lampard said after the win over United, having hailed Giroud's professionalism while he was out of the first-team picture.

But why has the 2018 World Cup winner been seemingly underappreciated for so long?

Using Opta data, we delved back into Giroud's Premier League career for Arsenal and Chelsea to find out.

MONSIEUR RELIABLE

Giroud has scored 86 league goals in 238 appearances for Arsenal and Chelsea. Since his debut in the competition in August 2012, only Aguero, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Jamie Vardy have scored more.

Despite this, Giroud is no stranger to the substitutes' bench - he has only started 37 times in the league in the past four seasons. If you go back to May 2016 to extend that number to 38 - in other words, a season's worth of starts - Giroud has scored 32 goals. Taken in isolation, that would match the record tally for a 38-game season set by Mohamed Salah in 2017-18.

Giroud's minutes-per-goal rate in the Premier League is unsurprisingly solid: 154.3. It's not as good as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's (128.3), but it's better than that of Alexandre Lacazette (178.2) and only fractionally lower than Tammy Abraham's (151.6), all of whom have been regularly preferred to Giroud in starting line-ups.

Giroud has also performed well in the Expected Goals category. He has only had negative xG differentials (ie, scored fewer goals than should reasonably be expected given his chances) in three of his past eight league seasons. Twice, in 2014-15 and 2016-17, he has overperformed in terms of xG by a factor of more than five.

So, why has he not played more?

THE BIGGER PICTURE

One problem might be Giroud's xG differential has fallen in recent years.

Since his Chelsea debut on February 5, 2018, he has scored 13 league goals from an expected 15.5, giving him a -2.5 difference. That number is below the top 10 goalscorers in the league in that time and pales in comparison to Aubameyang, who has a differential of 7.2, or Tottenham's Kane (10.4).

Those numbers make sense when you consider Giroud's 'big chance' conversion rate for Chelsea is at 29.2, almost exactly the same as Abraham (29) and below maligned former team-mate Alvaro Morata (32.5). Likewise, his shot conversion rate, including blocked shots, is 12.9 - lower than Abraham (16.7) and Morata (14).

There was a similar theme for the Gunners. In his Arsenal days, Giroud's big chance conversion rate was 36.3 per cent, with his shot conversion rate at 16.3. Aubameyang (49.35 and 24.8) and Lacazette (39.2 and 18.4) rank far higher.

Perhaps it's not surprising, then, that Chelsea average more wins (58.7 compared to 55.2), more goals (1.9 compared to 1.7) and fewer goals against (1 compared to 1.3) without Giroud in the side.

RESURGENCE

Giroud told L'Equipe this week that he wants to keep playing until he is 36 and that the signing of Timo Werner by Chelsea is simply "an extra motivation" to perform.

Nobody, Giroud included, expects Werner to spend too much time on the bench at Stamford Bridge - so what can the former offer Lampard?

He has form, of course - he became the oldest player to score in five consecutive Premier League games in July and has found the net in each of his past seven appearances in all competitions - but his usefulness goes beyond his goal tally. After all, this is a player who started all but one of France's games at their World Cup triumph two years ago, despite not scoring.

Giroud offers a different sort of threat in the Chelsea attack, rather as he did for Arsenal. Since his debut, he has scored 31 headers in the Premier League, five more than any other player (Aubameyang has three).

In that same period, he has won 1,063 duels, averaging 6.5 per game for Chelsea at a success rate of 51 per cent, which is greater than any other current Chelsea or Arsenal striker. Similarly, his average of 4.9 aerial duels won per 90 minutes for Chelsea is more than double Abraham's tally, while he averages 7.7 touches in the opposition box per game compared to Abraham's 6.4.

These are not new elements to Giroud's game, yet they have been undervalued. He is a target man whose unselfish work can make teams tick, yet his knack for goals - when given the opportunity - speaks for itself.

Were fans allowed inside Wembley on Saturday, Giroud would be worthy of adulation from all sides of the ground.

The NBA finally returns on Thursday and it's been a long-time coming.

Not since March 11 have players taken to the court and fans watched official games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But, after months of waiting, the New Orleans Pelicans-Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers-Los Angeles Clippers clashes will headline the 2019-20 season restart in Orlando, Florida.

Inside the Walt Disney World Resort bubble, 22 teams will resume their regular seasons before the playoffs.

The Milwaukee Bucks topped the NBA standings at the time of the postponement, while the Los Angeles Lakers were flying in the Western Conference.

Using STATS data, we look at the best-performing players prior to the hiatus as LeBron James eyes a fourth championship ring and Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo chases a maiden title.

 

Red-hot LeBron

After a tough first season in Los Angeles, James has returned to his brilliant best in 2019-20. Before the coronavirus-enforced break, the four-time MVP catapulted himself into the mix for a fifth Most Valuable Player honour by leading the Lakers – who have played 63 of their 82-game regular season – to a Western Conference-best 49-14 record.

As the 35-year-old superstar prepares to resume his bid for another NBA crown, James leads the league in assists per game with 10.6. If he maintains his pace, James would be the third-oldest player to lead the NBA in assists per game behind two-time MVP and Phoenix Suns great Steve Nash – who did so in both 2009-10 (age 35-36) and 2010-11 (age 36-37). The former Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers forward has also been averaging 25.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game this season.

James, whose maiden campaign at Staples Center was cut short by a Christmas Day injury almost two years ago, was playing some of his best basketball alongside All-Star recruit Anthony Davis before the March suspension. In five games that month, James averaged 30.0 points and 10.6 assists per game, while shooting 55.7 per cent from the field. It is the only time in the last 30 years that any NBA player has averaged 30.0-plus points and 10.0-plus assists on 55.0-plus per cent shooting in a calendar month (minimum five games played).

 

Giannis – The Greek Freak

The Eastern Conference-leading Bucks (53-12) are on track for their first NBA title since 1971 thanks to superstar MVP Antetokounmpo after Mike Budenholzer's side lost in the Conference Finals last season.

Antetokounmpo – expected to go close to winning back-to-back MVPs – has not taken a backward step since being crowned the league's best in 2018-19, averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game for the high-flying Bucks this season.

The only players to average 25/13/5 in a season are Elgin Baylor (1960-61), Wilt Chamberlain (1963-64 and 1965-66) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1972-73 and 1975-76).

 

Harden firing Rockets

James Harden's standing among the greats is often debated but there is no doubting his quality and importance to the Houston Rockets.

Harden has established himself as a scoring machine in Houston since joining the Rockets from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, especially from beyond the arc, and after averaging 36.1 points last season, the 2018 MVP is at it again.

In 2019-20, Harden – now partnered with fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook – is averaging 34.4 per game. The only players to average 34-plus points in back-to-back seasons are Wilt Chamberlain (six straight from 1959-60 to 1964-65), Baylor (three straight from 1960-61 to 1962-63) and Michael Jordan (1986-87 to 1987-88).

The Rockets – sixth in the west with a 40-24 record – are relying heavily on Harden to lead the two-time champions to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1995.

 

Dallas' dazzling Doncic

If you thought Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic was a one-season wonder, think again.

The reigning Rookie of the Year continues to take the NBA by storm, elevating the Mavericks (40-27) into a legitimate playoff threat after Dallas missed the postseason for a third consecutive year last term.

A first-time All-Star this season, Doncic is averaging 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game for the much-improved Mavs in 2019-20.

The 21-year-old Slovenian sensation – who is forming a formidable combination with fellow international star Kristaps Porzingis – is looking to join Oscar Robertson (five times), Jordan (1988-89), Harden (2016-17) and Westbrook (2016-17) as the only players to average 28/8/8 in a season.

 

Williamson following in MJ's footsteps

When it comes to number one draft pick Zion Williamson, believe the hype.

The Pelicans rookie has not missed a beat since debuting in January, quickly making his presence known around the NBA competition.

Likened to James during his college days with Duke, Williamson has averaged 23.6 points per game in his first 19 games – the most by any player through 19 career games since Chicago Bulls and NBA legend Jordan (25.6).

Williamson has helped fill the void left by Davis in New Orleans and the Pelicans – 10th in the Western Conference with a 28-36 record – will be hoping the 20-year-old can lead the organisation to just their second playoff appearance in five seasons.

 

Keep an eye on Nets' LeVert

The Nets will be far from full strength in the NBA bubble. Superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are both sidelined through injury, while DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, Wilson Chandler and Taurean Prince have opted out.

Step up Caris LeVert.

LeVert has been much improved since re-joining the starting line-up with the playoff-chasing Nets. In his first 14 games off the bench, he was only averaging 11.1 points, 2.7 assists and 2.6 rebounds as Brooklyn went 5-9.

Since returning to the starting five, the 25-year-old is averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds through his last 16 games. More importantly, the Nets (30-34) boasted a 9-7 record to be seventh in a congested Eastern Conference.

From fresh-faced seamer to becoming a member of Test cricket's illustrious 500 club; Stuart Broad has always seemingly needed to prove himself.

The fast bowler - so often in the shadows of James Anderson – was centre stage on the final day of the series decider against West Indies in Manchester, matching his long-time new-ball partner in reaching a personal milestone.

Kraigg Brathwaite's wicket became number 500 when he was trapped lbw by Broad, who made his debut in Sri Lanka in 2007, then a newcomer with a famous father. The hair has thinned a little over the years, but - sorry, Chris - there is no doubt who is the best-known family member now.

Broad's career may always be remembered for the stunning spells, none more so than his 8-15 against Australia at Trent Bridge in 2015.

Yet Broad has become a model of consistency as he's matured, working hard to adapt his game and defy those who have ever dared doubt him – including, occasionally, those who select England's XI.

His achievement is a reward for both the skills he possesses and his stamina - only seven bowlers have reached 500 (and three of those are spinners) - as the Opta numbers show.

TOP TARGETS

"It would be nice if I was to play there again and he [Broad] wasn't playing."

David Warner's words were tongue-in-cheek, of course. Still, the Australian batsman would no doubt rather, if he makes it to another Ashes tour to England, that his nemesis was no longer around.

Broad has accounted for the left-handed opener 12 times, putting him top of his hit list in the longest format. That total includes seven of Warner's 10 innings in the 2019 series on English soil.

Michael Clarke, another Australian, had been the top target prior to last year, falling to the right-armer on 11 occasions. AB de Villiers and Ross Taylor sit together on 10, showing how Broad has made a habit of taking out opposing team's leading names during his career.

When it comes to countries, Broad has undoubtedly enjoyed his battles with Australia, a nation that has loved to hate him ever since he failed to walk when edging a delivery during a see-saw first Test of the 2013 series in England.

The Brisbane Courier Mail even refused to print his name at one stage when England next toured Down Under, referring to him only as "the 27-year-old medium-pace bowler".

Medium-paced or not, Broad has excelled in the heat of an Ashes battle, taking 118 wickets at an average of 29.4. That tally has been boosted by seven five-wicket hauls, none more famous than that career-best eight-for in Nottingham that saw Australia skittled for 60.

Broad's taken more Test wickets (66) against New Zealand than any other Englishman, too.

THROUGH THE YEARS

There was seen to be a streaky nature about Broad’s returns, perhaps formulated through the years by his ability to get on a roll and take wickets in clusters.

Yet for all the undoubted memorable moments, there has still been a consistency to his performances. Indeed, Broad is the only bowler to pick up at least 30 Test wickets in each of the last nine completed calendar years – and is well on target to continue that run, as he has 25 in 2020 already in five outings.

The peak – so far – was in 2013, when 62 scalps came at an average of 25.8. His strike-rate of a wicket every 46.2 balls was aided by an outstanding 2013 Ashes, including claiming 11 in the third Test in Durham that secured England the urn.

There is no sign of him slowing up, though, as his performances against West Indies showed.

A willingness to change his natural tendencies – Broad has bowled noticeably fuller in recent times, as well as mastering a wobble-seam delivery – has allowed him to remain productive. While Anderson's body has started to betray him in recent times, in contrast his team-mate appears to go from strength to strength.

No longer part of the limited-overs set-up, he has played 11 Tests in each of the past three calendar years, taking 108 wickets from the start of 2017 to the end of 2019. Sure, 500 is great but do not think he's finished there.

RIGHT ON THE MONEY

Broad's success against Warner demonstrated just how he has developed methods to trouble left-handers, often by coming around the wicket and angling the ball into them.

However, 70 per cent of his Test wickets have been right-handed batsmen (352 compared to 149), with his average markedly better against them as well (25.8 v 32.9).

When it comes to the position in the batting order, 225 of his victims have been in the top four, 140 coming in from five to seven and then 136 so-called tail-enders. What the sheer number of wickets backs up, however, is that Broad is an outstanding performer.

Even when England suggested they were thinking about moving on, leaving him out of the series opener against West Indies in Southampton, he responded in just the manner you would expect of such a highly competitive character.

Having made it publicly known he was disappointed to be left out for a game the hosts lost, he backed up his words with actions, picking up 16 wickets in the next two games following his recall, including 10 in the third Test as the home team won the Wisden Trophy.

"He's a real inspiration, not just for younger members of the team but also for me," Anderson - who is closing in on 600 wickets - told Sky Sports prior to the fifth day's play at Old Trafford.

England have been fortunate to have both Anderson and Broad together. Do not expect either to stop anytime soon, either.

David Silva played his 309th and final Premier League match on Sunday, helping Manchester City end the season with a rout of Norwich City. 

While he did not get on the scoresheet, the 5-0 thrashing was still a fitting farewell for a player who must be considered one of the best to ever to play for the club. 

His future remains unclear, but the 34-year-old's legacy in English football is safe: four league titles, two FA Cups, five EFL Cups and, just maybe, a Champions League triumph next month. 

Opta provides a clear insight into the brilliance of Silva over the past 10 years...

BORN TO PLAY - AND WIN

Silva reached 200 Premier League wins in just 289 appearances, faster than any other player in the competition's history. Indeed, City won 69.2 per cent of all league games when 'El Mago' was on the pitch - 214 in total.

City's very own Mr Reliable has only made fewer league appearances since his debut than two goalkeepers, David de Gea (312) and Ben Foster (322), while only Kyle Walker has played more Premier League minutes in that time.

Of course, Silva has never just been making up the numbers in City blue. He managed 93 assists, at least 17 more than any other player since his debut in 2010.

Unsurprisingly, his 793 chances created is also far clear of his closest rivals - Eden Hazard is next on 595.

Overall, he has provided 153 goals and assists combined, the fourth-highest since he came to English shores, behind just Wayne Rooney (155), Harry Kane (163) and Sergio Aguero (226).

AN ALL-TIME GREAT

Silva is in esteemed company in Premier League history. He is sixth on the all-time assist table, one ahead of Steven Gerrard and behind only Dennis Bergkamp (94), Frank Lampard (102), Rooney (103), Cesc Fabregas (111) and Ryan Giggs (162).

For City, he is unsurprisingly top of almost every chart.

He has played more games, won more games and provided more assists than any other City player in the Premier League, while behind only Aguero for goals and assists combined. While hardly prolific, only Yaya Toure (62), Raheem Sterling (67) and Aguero (180) can better his tally of 60 goals.

 

EL REY

Only De Gea and Fabregas (350) have played more Premier League games than Silva when it comes to Spanish players, and none have won as many matches or can compare to his win rate.

Fernando Torres (85) is the only Spaniard with more goals, while just Fabregas is above Silva for assists and combined goal involvements (161).

 

CONSISTENCY KING

Silva's best season for goals and assists was in 2011-12 - City's first title triumph - when he registered 21. He has managed at least 11 goal involvements in each of his league campaigns in England.

The midfielder created more than 60 goalscoring chances in every season except 2019-20 and twice surpassed a century, reaching 104 in 2011-12 and then 105 the following term.

He completed 18,794 passes in the Premier League with an accuracy that averaged more than 87 per cent.

Another season, another Scudetto for Juventus.

The bulldozing Bianconeri have won Serie A for a ninth year in succession following their 2-0 victory over Sampdoria on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi scored the goals that clinched the championship for Juve following a run of just one win in their previous five games.

Although it may not have been a vintage Juve season they still extended their record run of consecutive titles.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the stats behind their ongoing dominance.

 

Days of glory

The first title in this incredible run was secured on May 6, 2012.

By defeating Sampdoria, they clinched number nine three days after they celebrated their 3,000th consecutive day as Italian champions.

A record for Sarri

Antonio Conte led Juve to their first three titles in this run and Massimiliano Allegri extended it by a further five.

Maurizio Sarri kept the tradition going in his first season at the helm, earning his first major trophy in Italian football.

By topping Serie A aged 61, he surpassed Nils Liedholm (60 years and 219 days) to become the oldest coach to win a Scudetto.

Not as solid

Sarri was appointed to bring a more expansive approach to Turin and their defence has seemingly suffered as a result.

Juve have already conceded 38 goals, becoming the first team to win the title while shipping that many since Milan let in the same amount in their triumphant 1961-62 season.

Veteran centre-back Giorgio Chiellini is the only player to have made at least one appearance in each of Juve's past nine Serie A title successes, with Gianluigi Buffon the only player in history to have won more Scudetti.

In the season he surpassed Paolo Maldini at the top of the all-time Serie A appearances list, Buffon, who has been back-up to Wojciech Szczesny since returning from Paris Saint-Germain, won the league for an incredible 10th time.

Ronaldo rolls on

Juve's continued success owes a lot to the incredible goalscoring feats of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner may be 35 but his prolific nature does not appear to be waning; this season he became the first player in history to score at least 50 goals in Serie A, LaLiga and the Premier League.

Ronaldo was also the fastest to 50 goals among players to have debuted since 1994-95, hitting the milestone in just 61 appearances with a double against Lazio on Monday.

That brace also moved the Portugal captain onto 30 goals for the season, a tally he stretched to 31 against Samp, making him just the third Juve star to reach that mark in a single top-flight campaign, following in the footsteps of Felice Borel (32 in 1933-34) and John Hansen (30 in 1951-52).

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