Barcelona have reportedly joined the queue chasing Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Haaland is a player in demand following his exploits for Bundesliga outfit Dortmund.

The Norway international could be among a number of new recruits at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND WANTED AT CAMP NOU

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman is leading the club's recruitment this off-season and has identified Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as a key target, according to Diario AS.

Haaland has been linked with Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Liverpool.

Koeman is also reportedly eyeing City defender Eric Garcia, Lyon captain Memphis Depay and soon-to-be Liverpool free agent Georginio Wijnaldum.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fresh from netting a hat-trick to knock Tottenham out of the Europa League, Dinamo Zagreb's Mislav Orsic has been linked with a move to London rivals Arsenal by The Sun, which claims the Gunners are looking at the Croatian attacker as an off-season signing.

- Marca claims Arsenal will not be able to sign on-loan Martin Odegaard on a permanent deal as parent club Real Madrid see him as part of their long-term future plans.

Roma want either Maurizio Sarri or Massimiliano Allegri to be their next coach to replace Paulo Fonseca, according to Messaggero.

- Calciomercato says rumoured Premier League target Franck Kessie has rejected Milan's latest contract extension offer.

- Schalke's California-born 20-year-old Matthew Hoppe is hot property and Valencia are the latest club to join the chase, alongside TottenhamBarcelona, Ajax and PSV, according to AS.

- The Sun reports in-form Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho will sign a new deal with the club.

Manchester City have been linked with Erling Haaland.

As Sergio Aguero appears headed for an exit, Pep Guardiola wants to bolster his attack.

But Danny Ings has reportedly emerged as an alternative to the expensive and in-demand Haaland.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TARGET INGS

Manchester City are considering a move for Southampton star Danny Ings, according to Sky Sports.

City's all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero is out of contract at the end of the season and no closer to extending his deal in Manchester.

Pep Guardiola's City are reportedly among the admirers of Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Juventus.

With Haaland set to command a huge fee, City are eyeing former Liverpool forward Ings as a cheaper alternative.

 

ROUND-UP

- Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport report Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo is on the brink of being sacked. Juve are out of the Champions League and 10 points off the pace following their shock loss to Benevento. Former boss Massimiliano Allegri has been linked with a return, while La Repubblica claims Atalanta's Gian Piero Gasperini, Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi and Luciano Spalletti are on a three-man shortlist.

- Former Chelsea and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri is Roma's number one option should they sack head coach Paulo Fonseca, says Gazzetta dello Sport. Fonseca – under pressure in the Italian capital – has also been linked with Napoli, alongside Hellas Verona's Ivan Juric. Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso has been linked with Fiorentina, Torino and Bologna.

Neymar re-signing with Ligue 1 holders PSG is "just a matter of time", according to Fabrizio Romano.

Aaron Ramsey is interested in a move to Premier League champions Liverpool, according to Calciomercato. The Juventus midfielder, who left Arsenal for Turin in 2019, is seen as a possible replacement for rumoured Barca target Georginio Wijnaldum at Anfield.

- The Daily Express reports Arsenal are eyeing Barcelona misfit Philippe Coutinho. However, a move will depend on whether Arsenal sign loanee Martin Odegaard permanently from Madrid.

Xabi Alonso is set to become the new head coach of Borussia Monchengladbach next season, replacing Dortmund-bound Marco Rose. Romano, however, insists no contract has been signed as the former Bayern Munich star remains in charge of Real Sociedad's B team.

Could Manchester United turn to a Wolves star?

United have long been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho.

But the Red Devils are reportedly interested in Pedro Neto.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED PLAN NETO SWOOP

Manchester United are considering a £50million move for Wolves star Pedro Neto , according to The Sun.

Borussia Dortmund's  Jadon Sancho  has topped United's list of attacking targets – the Premier League giants almost signed the England international at the start of the season.

But United see Portuguese winger Neto as an alternative at Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Sun reports Serie A leaders Inter have joined the chase for Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero , who is out of contract at season's end. City's all-time leading goalscorer has been linked with Barcelona , Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea . The Nerazzurri are also reportedly monitoring Edinson Cavani 's situation. The United forward, who signed a one-year deal at the start of the season, is rumoured to be talking to Boca Juniors .

Real Madrid will pay David Alaba , his father and agent €20m if he arrives from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, claims Mundo Deportivo. Alaba's contract will expire at the end of the season and the Austria international has been tipped to move to the Santiago Bernabeu. However, Barca , Liverpool and PSG have also been linked.

- Calciomercato says Roma , Inter and Milan are interested in Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso .

Milan are considering a move for CSKA Moscow star Nikola Vlasic  should Hakan Calhanoglu leave on a free transfer, reports Calciomercato. While the Croatia international has a €35m release clause for foreign clubs, Russian giants CSKA could settle for €28-30m.

Manchester United will face European debutants Granada in the quarter-finals of the Europa League and cannot now meet Arsenal until the final.

The draw for the last eight on Friday kept the two remaining Premier League giants apart.

United claimed a 1-0 win at Milan on Thursday to advance 2-1 on aggregate and their reward is an apparently kind draw against LaLiga's Granada, winners over Molde.

If United advance, they could have a replay of the 2016-17 final in which they defeated Ajax, who take on Roma for the right to play the Red Devils or Granada.

Ajax were too strong for Young Boys, while Roma dumped out Shakhtar Donetsk.

Arsenal, who knocked out Olympiacos despite losing at home, will be wary of their quarter-final opponents Slavia Prague.

Slavia have already eliminated Leicester City and Rangers, and have now been paired with the 2018-19 finalists, visiting Emirates Stadium before hosting the reverse fixture.

Arsenal's half of the draw is completed by Dinamo Zagreb and Villarreal.

Dinamo defeated Tottenham in a stunning second-leg comeback on Thursday and could get the chance to complete a north London double if they meet the Gunners.

A meeting between Arsenal and Villarreal would also have significance, with the Spanish outfit coached by Unai Emery, Mikel Arteta's predecessor and a three-time Europa League winner with Sevilla.

Emery's men swept aside Dynamo Kiev in the last 16.


Quarter-final draw:

Granada v Manchester United
Arsenal v Slavia Prague
Ajax v Roma
Dinamo Zagreb v Villarreal

Semi-final draw:

Winner of QF 1 v Winner of QF 3
Winner of QF 4 v Winner of QF 2

Barcelona's Champions League campaign feels all but over as they head to Paris Saint-Germain nursing a 4-1 last-16 deficit.

Kylian Mbappe made merry at Camp Nou last month, netting a brilliant hat-trick after Lionel Messi gave the hosts a first-half lead.

The fact the defeat came on their own patch makes Barca's hopes even more remote, but they've been on both sides of incredible recent Champions League comebacks – most famously in this very fixture.

Here, we look at some of the nights in Europe's top competition where logic left town.

2019: Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (4-3 on aggregate)

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool had been well beaten at Camp Nou, with the 3-0 scoreline flattering Barcelona but making the Catalans clear favourites to complete their semi-final task on Merseyside.

Liverpool were without injured forwards Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for the second leg, yet two goals each from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum saw the hosts defy the odds in sensational style.

They were Origi's first goals in the competition, while only 122 seconds separated Wijnaldum's pair in a pivotal period that left Anfield rocking.

Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner.

It meant a Barcelona side boasting Messi – who was involved in all of Barca's eight attempts on goal with five shots and three key passes - and former Liverpool stars Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez were left devastated, while Klopp's men celebrated reaching the Madrid final.

2019: Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (5-3 on aggregate)

Despite an impressive display in their 2-1 first-leg defeat, few thought Ajax could turn things around at the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid's Sergio Ramos certainly did not - he earned a first-leg booking to avoid the risk of a quarter-final ban, receiving an extra-game suspension from UEFA in the process.

In the absence of their captain, Madrid capitulated against a fearless and thrilling Ajax. Hakim Ziyech and David Neres put the visitors 2-0 up after only 18 minutes and it was 3-0 just after the hour thanks to the inspired Dusan Tadic.

Marco Asensio got a goal back, but Lasse Schone's free-kick beat Thibaut Courtois and sent Madrid crashing out on the back of their heaviest margin of defeat in a European knockout game. It was the first time Madrid had ever been knocked out after winning the first leg of a Champions League tie, while Ajax would themselves be stung by a comeback in the semi-finals.

2019: Ajax 2-3 Tottenham (3-3 agg)

Ajax looked certain finalists when they extended their 1-0 first-leg lead to 3-0 on aggregate in Amsterdam, thanks to first-half goals from Matthijs de Ligt and Ziyech.

Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs took inspiration from Liverpool's stunning fightback against Barcelona 24 hours earlier, though, and Lucas Moura stepped up to emerge as their hero.

The Brazilian winger was thrust into a central attacking role and scored an improbable hat-trick – just the fifth time the feat had been accomplished in a Champions League semi-final - in the second half, the vital third goal coming deep into stoppage time, as Spurs won on away goals.

2018: Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 agg)

Barcelona were stunned in the Italian capital as Roma completed one of the most unlikely quarter-final turnarounds.

Eusebio Di Francesco's side came back from a 4-1 first-leg deficit to progress to the last four on away goals after a thrilling 3-0 win in front of their home fans.

Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas secured the 4-4 aggregate draw and sent the Stadio Olimpico into raptures, as Barca fell to pieces.

2017: Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain (6-5 agg)

Before being humbled by Roma and Liverpool, Barcelona pulled off an astonishing Champions League comeback of their own - the greatest so far in terms of the deficit overhauled and one that PSG fans will still shudder to be reminded of this week

Trailing 4-0 from the first leg of their last-16 tie with PSG, Suarez and Messi scored either side of a Layvin Kurzawa own goal, only for Edinson Cavani to grab what was expected to be the decisive away goal for the visitors.

However, two quickfire Neymar goals against his future club – the second a highly controversial penalty after Suarez took a tumble – levelled the tie at 5-5.

Then, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Sergi Roberto struck to create a slice of Champions League history – no side had ever turned around a four-goal first-leg deficit before.

2004: Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 Milan (5-4 agg)

Deportivo were among Spain's major forces just after the turn of the century and one of their finest moments in Europe came in April 2004 when, despite being 4-1 down from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Milan, they stunned the Rossoneri at the Riazor.

Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque had Depor ahead on away goals before half-time, with veteran Fran Gonzalez scoring the fourth to make sure of their passage.

Depor were eliminated by eventual winners Porto in the semi-finals, but this comeback stood as arguably the very best in Champions League history until Barca went one better.

2000: Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (aet, 6-4 agg)

Another time Barcelona overturned the odds.

A 3-1 first-leg loss at Stamford Bridge – having trailed 3-0 – had Barca in danger of being on the wrong end of a major Champions League upset prior to Chelsea's Roman Abramovich era, but in the return match the Catalan giants showed their true class.

Tore Andre Flo's 60th-minute goal was sending Chelsea through despite Rivaldo and Luis Figo scoring before the break, but Dani Garcia headed home in the 83rd-minute to force extra time.

Rivaldo atoned for an earlier missed penalty by converting from the spot after Celestine Babayaro was sent off and Patrick Kluivert finished the game off, crushing Chelsea's dreams.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is attracting interest from across Europe.

Donnarumma's Milan contract expires at season's end and the star goalkeeper is yet to commit.

Premier League giants Chelsea are reportedly ready to prise the Italy international to London.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA LAUNCH DONNARUMMA BID

Chelsea are ready to make a move for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, according to Libero Quotidiano.

Donnarumma's contract expires at the end of the season and Premier League giants Chelsea are set to submit an offer worth £9million (€10.5m) per season, despite already boasting the world's most expensive goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and Edouard Mendy.

The Italy international has also been linked with the likes of Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sky reports teenage sensation Jamal Musiala has signed a long-term contract extension with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. The new deal is reportedly worth €5m per year and will tie him to Bayern until 2026.

Manchester City have joined the race for Atalanta star Robin Gosens, according to Virgilio. Gosens has had interest from Serie A rivals Inter and Juventus but Atalanta are understood to want €40m (£34m) for his services.

- The Daily Mail says Leicester City are planning for Jamie Vardy's long-term replacement by targeting a £15m move for Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard.

- Santiago Arias is being circled by EvertonRoma and PSG this off-season, according to Kicker. Arias is currently on loan at Bayer Leverkusen from Atletico Madrid.

- InterLive claims Inter are keen on Juve goalkeeper Mattia Perin, who is currently on loan at Genoa, and may use Matias Vecino in exchange. The Nerazzurri are looking for goalkeeper cover for Samir Handanovic.

Milan technical director Paolo Maldini said the club are weighing up whether to sign Fikayo Tomori permanently from Premier League giants Chelsea.

Tomori has impressed since arriving on loan in January, the 23-year-old's impact highlighted by his starting berth at the expense of captain Alessio Romagnoli in Milan's 2-1 win over Roma on Sunday.

Milan have an option to buy Tomori at the end of the season – the fee reportedly in the region of £25million (€28m).

Asked about Tomori's future prior to Milan's Serie A victory away to Roma, Maldini told Sky Sport Italia: "Tomori is a good talent and we have a buy-option clause.

"The price is very high. AC Milan will decide at the end of this season and we will discuss it with Chelsea's board."

"Fortunately, I work for a club that has an effect on players. When AC Milan call, the players always listen," Maldini added.

"Fikayo is a player with particular characteristics, pace and intensity, so we thought he could be a good reinforcement for this second half of the season.

"Naturally, Romagnoli isn't happy, no player is when he doesn't play. However, Milan are 17 points better off than last season, we're second despite having more commitments and many injuries, so squad rotation is necessary and Alessio has played pretty much every game."

Tomori partnered Simon Kjaer in Milan's defence as second-placed Milan stayed within four points of leaders Inter after 24 matches.

Franck Kessie and Ante Rebic scored for Milan, while Tomori had an early goal ruled out for offside.

Tomori had a team-high six clearances and two blocks, while he attempted the most passes (60) with an accuracy of 88.3 per cent at the heart of Milan's defence.

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli hailed Englishman Tomori post-match: "I expected this performance, because Tomori played a derby a couple of days after joining us, so he's been at this level from the start.

"I still believe it's the collective that allows the individual to perform and all together we won a very important match.

"Roma have players with a lot of pace and quality in attack, so we knew that we were taking a risk, but we also recovered more balls in the opposition half – finally – and were therefore more dangerous in attack.

"It's about weighing up the costs and benefits of an approach, and this approach is giving us more benefits."

Ante Rebic struck the winner as Milan got the better of Roma in a wild Stadio Olimpico clash to narrow the gap on leaders Inter with a 2-1 win.

The Serie A title battle might have been all but over if Milan had lost this game, but chances came thick and fast and it was a wonder there were only three goals.

The first was a Franck Kessie penalty in the 43rd minute, but Roma got level early in the second half thanks to Jordan Veretout's fine finish.

Rebic scored a classy winner just before the hour; however, he and Zlatan Ibrahimovic both left the fray with injury concerns, having played their part in trimming Inter's lead to four points.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will renew acquaintances with Manchester United after the Red Devils were drawn against his Milan side in the Europa League last 16.

Sweden great Ibrahimovic spent just under two seasons with the Red Devils under Jose Mourinho, joining in July 2016 and departing in March 2018 to move to LA Galaxy.

During his first campaign at Old Trafford, Ibrahimovic missed out on United's Europa League final triumph against Ajax due to a serious knee injury and he will now aim to be the downfall of his former employers in this season's competition.

United have been eliminated by Milan in European knockout ties four times, the most of any side along with Real Madrid.

Arsenal, finalists as recently as 2019, will hope there is no sense of deja vu in their tie against Olympiacos. Mikel Arteta's side suffered a shock exit against the Greek outfit at the last-32 stage last season.

Mourinho is out to win the competition for a second time as a coach, and his Tottenham side face Dinamo Zagreb, while Roma have a tricky contest against Shakhtar Donetsk – who were the last winners of the tournament in its previous guise the UEFA Cup in 2009.

Rounding out the draw, Ajax face Young Boys, Slavia Prague go up against high-flying Scottish Premiership side Rangers, and Granada take on Molde.

Draw in full:

Ajax v Young Boys

Dinamo Kiev v Villarreal

Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk 

Olympiacos v Arsenal

Dinamo Zagreb v Tottenham

Manchester United v Milan 

Slavia Prague v Rangers

Granada v Molde

What does the future hold for Andre Silva?

Silva has scored 18 Bundesliga goals this season, second only to Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski.

He could find himself at Manchester United if Eintracht Frankfurt reportedly pursue a permanent deal for Luka Jovic.

 

TOP STORY – SILVA BOUND FOR MANCHESTER?

Manchester United could be offered the chance to sign Eintracht Frankfurt star Andre Silva if Edinson Cavani leaves Old Trafford, according to The Sun.

Silva is taking the Bundesliga by storm this season, but Eintracht are reportedly looking to raise funds to re-sign Luka Jovic – who is currently on loan in Frankfurt – permanently from Real Madrid.

Portugal international Silva could become available if veteran forward Cavani departs after the former Paris Saint-Germain star arrived on a one-year deal at the start of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Eurosport claims Chelsea are growing increasingly confident of winning the race to sign Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland. The Norway international forward has been linked with Madrid, BarcelonaManchester City, Liverpool and United, as well as Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

Everton have joined United and Bayern Munich in trying to sign Norwich City full-back Max Aarons, reports Fabrizio Romano.

Tottenham will target Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope if PSG make a move for Hugo Lloris, says the Daily Mail.

- The Sun claims United veteran Juan Mata is being tracked by Serie A trio, Juventus, Inter and Roma.

Justin Kluivert was sorely missed by RB Leipzig against Liverpool and his injuries are increasingly frustrating head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Winger Kluivert joined Leipzig from Roma on a season-long loan at the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

However, the 21-year-old - son of former Barcelona striker Patrick - has so far been limited to just three starts and 452 minutes of action in a Leipzig shirt across all competitions.

An ankle issue has provided Kluivert's latest setback, with his last appearance coming in January and his last start before Christmas.

Prior to being named in the line-up against Werder Bremen on December 12, Kluivert had scored in consecutive matches against Bayern Munich and Manchester United - his only goals so far this season.

Nagelsmann was impressed by the Netherlands international's performances in those games and believes his dribbling ability could be a real asset; he leads Leipzig with 5.4 dribbles attempted and 2.6 completed per 90 minutes this term.

But the coach was again without Kluivert as Leipzig lost their Champions League first leg 2-0 against Liverpool on Tuesday, with the German team attempting just 11 dribbles and failing to execute a single fast break.

"At the stage when we played Bayern and Manchester [United], it was the Justin we were hoping for," Nagelsmann said. "After that, he was gone again.

"He just trains very little, I don't see him much in training. That's the problem. He has to become more stable in terms of his body.

"Since he's been here, he's had far too few training sessions and therefore too little impact on the game.

"He basically has skills that would have done us good in the game against Liverpool. They would also do us good in the Bundesliga, like his deep runs and fast dribbling. He's also a goalscorer and has a good finish.

"But he simply has to become more stable. He's a little too injury-prone these days."

Leipzig would reportedly have to pay in excess of €10million to make Kluivert's move permanent.

Nagelsmann is not ruling out the possibility but would like to see more from the player over the coming months, referring again to the standard set in a 3-3 draw with Bayern.

Kluivert scored with his only shot at Allianz Arena, playing 78 minutes after being named in Nagelsmann's starting line-up.

"Obviously, we hope he has an even bigger impact on a successful season, that he stays healthy and that he can train more and get fit again for the games," Nagelsmann added.

"He's welcome to do as well as he did against Bayern Munich.

"In the course of the second half of the season, we will then decide what we do and what he wants to do. And how big his influence was and how it then continues beyond the summer or not, we will decide then."

Manchester United are making plans for Paul Pogba's departure and may have already identified the Frenchman's replacement in Real Madrid's Federico Valverde.

The 22-year-old has struggled with injuries this season, while veteran midfielders Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have been in vintage form for LaLiga's champions.

Valverde has only started 12 games in all competitions this season, but the Uruguayan has impressed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enough for United to step up their efforts to bring him to Old Trafford this off-season.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED EYE VALVERDE TO PLUG MIDFIELD

Valverde has shown his class while featuring in 89 games during his three seasons in the Spanish capital and has turned heads at United.

The Red Devils are said to admire his energy and box-to-box qualities as they seek a long-term solution to lock down a place in the centre of Solskjaer's midfield, according to The Sun.

One snag in the recruitment drive could be the Uruguay international's buy-out clause of a staggering £148million, though United can offer him a major improvement on his current £120,000 per week wage.

Will he leave Paris Saint-Germain or not?

That is the question regarding French star Kylian Mbappe.

Real Madrid are keen, but they are reportedly prepared to wait.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID WAITING FOR MBAPPE

Real Madrid have decided to wait to sign Kylian Mbappe until Paris Saint-Germain put the French star up for sale, according to Marca.

LaLiga champions Madrid have been tipped to sign Mbappe, who has also been linked with Premier League holders Liverpool.

PSG are trying to re-sign Mbappe as his contract runs out in 2022, and if they are unsuccessful amid their pursuit of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, Madrid are ready to pounce.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Sergio Ramos' knee injury could spell the end of his illustrious career with Madrid. Ramos is out of contract at season's end and the star captain has been linked to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, PSG, Chelsea and Juventus.

Liverpool are interested in Leeds United winger Raphinha, reports Football Insider. The Brazilian only moved to Elland Road at the start of the season.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Juventus are hoping to sign Roma sensation Nicolo Zaniolo.

Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo lauded Cristiano Ronaldo's adaptability as the defending Serie A champions beat Roma 2-0 on Saturday.

Ronaldo and an Ibanez own goal saw Juve to victory at Allianz Stadium, where the Italian giants claimed their third successive league victory.

A day after his 36th birthday, Ronaldo opened the scoring when his deflected strike clattered down off the underside of the crossbar in the 22nd minute before Ibanez's 69th-minute own goal put the result beyond doubt.

Ronaldo has been directly involved in 84 goals since his Serie A debut in 2018, scoring 68 goals and providing 16 assists, more than any other player in the competition, while the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has now scored 16 times across 17 league appearances this season.

Pirlo praised Ronaldo's willingness to adapt after Juve beat Roma, telling reporters: "Since the beginning of the season, Cristiano's made himself adaptable to our needs on the pitch.

"In some games he's played more like a proper number nine when we asked our other striker to close down the opposition's playmaker.

"In these games, he can play closer to the penalty area and be more effective in terms of goal scoring.

"He's always adapted to what I've asked him to do this season and therefore I'm very calm about this part of how we play."

Juve are now third in the Serie A standings in pursuit of their 10th consecutive Scudetto.

Pirlo's men are four points behind second-placed Milan – who are due to face Crotone on Sunday – and five adrift of leaders Inter, though Juve have played a game less.

Juve have won six successive games across all competitions, and Pirlo added: "I don't know if it was our best performance this season. For sure we played a great match.

"Especially because after the match we played on Tuesday at San Siro [semi-final first leg against Inter in Coppa Italia]. We had to recover energy even if we rotated many players. The team had spent a lot of mental energy in that match.

"We faced a strong opponent [Roma] that force you to run a lot on the defensive side and I think that especially under this aspect we played a brilliant match tonight."

Andrea Pirlo explained Juventus' defensive approach against Roma was a tactical plan, after his side claimed a 2-0 win in Saturday's Serie A clash.

Cristiano Ronaldo – a day after his 36th birthday – opened the scoring 13 minutes in at Allianz Stadium, with Ibanez's own goal then securing the points for Juve, who moved above Roma into third place.

Ronaldo's goal was one of just three attempts Juve managed, with all of them coming from the Portugal star, as he hit the woodwork and saw a powerful effort saved by Pau Lopez.

Juve had just 43.3 per cent possession in total, with Roma having 14 efforts on goal – though they had to wait until the 61st minute to test Wojciech Szczesny, who made three comfortable saves against his former club.

"We had prepared this type of match. We knew Roma play very good football, so we were prepared to sit back, defend and then go on the counter," Pirlo explained to Sky Sport Italia.

"Our preventative marking was good, this was the approach we wanted, because it wasn't easy to go forward and be aggressive with Roma.

"Instead, we waited for them at times and attacked them at others. We basically did a reverse of the way Roma played against us earlier this season, because you need that in your locker and can't always be aggressive with a high press.

"We have found the enthusiasm, are more solid and our defensive approach is more determined now, because we learned from mistakes made in the past."

Juve have kept three successive clean sheets in Serie A, the first time they have managed that under Pirlo, while their tally of attempts was the lowest they have managed in a game since the rookie coach took charge.

Of the six clean sheets Juve have kept in the league this term, Giorgio Chiellini has featured in four of them, and Pirlo emphasised the importance of his former team-mate.

"Giorgio Chiellini is in good shape and we hope he can continue like this," he added. 

"The group has always been humble, known when it’s the time to run without the ball and when everyone needs to help out. Even the biggest champions do that and it’s a crucial element.

"I've learned that not every game is the same, especially in a very tactical league like in Italy, so you need to have different variations and alternatives, because otherwise the opponents can read you too easily."

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