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  1. Over the years, Football fans have been divided in opinion whether it be the teams they choose to support or the English midfielder debate of Lampard v Gerrard. Players have often been compared to others that have never played at the same time together and often compared in both prime times. But one rivalry that has got fans debating for the past 10+ years has been that of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. It has been an age old battle between 2 of European Footballs greatest ever players. The real question though shouldn't be who's better but should we appreciate these 2 great footballers rather than compare them? As we may never witness another battle quite like this ever again. Some fans will argue the case that Ronaldo has been there and done that in conquering the Premier League and then moving to Spain to conquer more records ,and most recently ventured off to Italy for another challenge, where as Messi has only ever played for Barcelona, a team that has had bags of talent over the years with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Co. pulling the strings. There is also the argument that Ronaldo has something Messi has failed to achieve in his career, an International Trophy, with Portugal winning Euro 2016. Despite the efforts of Messi finishing runners up on 4 occassions with Argentina. On the flip side, many people argue the fact that Messi is more of a team player than Ronaldo and will pass up oppurtunities to benefit his team rather than have personal glory. Despite having the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Co. Is Messi the real reason for Barcelona's dominance since the young Argentinian prodigy arrived on the scene in 2004? His own personal records speak volumes as to say that he could light up any team no matter the players that he is surrounded by and if he was to have joined the same clubs as Ronaldo has been to, might of replicated or beaten his rivals records. Since Ronaldo's arrival at Real Madrid in 2009, there have been 38 El Classico's with Messi's Barcelona coming out the better with 17 wins compared with 10 wins for Ronaldo's Real Madrid and playing out 11 Draws in the timespace from Ronaldo joining and leaving Real Madrid in 2018. It can also be added that during this time, they have a combined 640 La Liga goals in 601 games. Messi 329 goals in 309 games and Ronaldo 311 goals in 292 games. Both goal ratio's are unbelievable, which seems unlikely to be replicated anywhere else in the footballing world. Records and Achievements speak for themselves and these 2 goaliths are not shy when it comes to awards and trophies. Combining the records achieved by both these exceptional players are stats that seems too good to be true. 1,177 goals in 1,464 games at club level - Ronaldo (592 goals, 793 games) 4 different clubs Messi (585 goals, 671 games) 1 club Record goalscorers both Club & International Level - Ronaldo (85 goals, 154 Caps Portugal) (450 goals, 438 games Real Madrid) Messi (65 goals, 128 games Argentina) (585 goals, 671 games Barcelona) Combined personal Awards - 268 Ronaldo - 135 Messi - 133 Both winning the Ballon D'or a record 5 times. Combined Trophies at club level - 58 Messi - 32 Ronaldo - 26 Since Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2009 - 40 Messi - 25 Ronaldo - 15 Combined Champions League Goals - 228 in 293 games Ronaldo - 122 in 163 games Messi - 106 in 130 games Ronaldo's notable achievements - - Only player to score 50 or more goals in 6 consecutive seasons - Only player to score 60+ goals in a calendar year for 4 consecutive years. Messi's notable achievements - - World record 91 goals for both club and country in a single calendar year in 2012 - Only player to win more than 1 Club World Cup golden boot Considering all these records, these 2 players will forever go down as Legends. We may never see a battle quite like this ever again and we may never see players destroy records like both Ronaldo and Messi have done over the years. Stats will forever remain and this will forever go down as one of the greatest battles between players in footballing history. There is no comparing these players in their prime, as we are living in the moment of 2 of footballs greatest ever players. But as always, fans will forever be divided as to who is the better player. Should we just appreciate the players while they are still playing? Should we argue as to who was better when both these players retire? Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  2. Arsenal have announced the signing of Switzerland defender Stephan Lichtsteiner from Juventus. The right-back, 34, spent seven years at the Turin club, making 257 appearances and winning Serie A seven times in a row. Lichtsteiner, who captains his country, will become manager Unai Emery's first signing since succeeding Arsene Wenger. "Stephan brings huge experience and leadership to us. He's a player with great quality with a very positive and determined attitude," said Emery. "Stephan will improve us on and off the pitch." In a statement on his official Twitter page, Lichtsteiner said: "Happy and honoured to be a Gunner! "Will work hard and passionately day in and day out to achieve our sporting objectives and to win trophies with this great club." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  3. Massimiliano Allegri has hinted that he will be staying at Juventus amid speculation linking him with Arsenal. The 50-year-old steered Juve to a seventh consecutive Serie A title this season and is a reported target for the Gunners, after Arsene Wenger stood down at the end of the season after 22 years in charge. In quotes posted on Juventus's official Twitter account, the Juve boss revealed his intention to start planning for next season with club officials. "Next week, I'll meet with the club as we start to make the team competitive again just like every year," he said. "Next year will be even more difficult and we need to keep raising our game. It's in Juve's DNA to be competitive on all fronts. "It's always our objective to work hard to create Juventus history. That boils down to determination, sacrifice and confidence in our own abilities. It's in the difficult moments that I actually have more fun." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  4. Gianluigi Buffon has announced that he will be leaving Juventus at the end of the season after 17 years with the club. The Serie A champions host Verona on Saturday in what will be the 40-year-old goalkeeper's last game for the Italian side. Buffon captained the club to a seventh straight title and fourth consecutive Italian Cup triumph this season. "Saturday will be my last game for Juventus," Buffon told reporters. "I think it's the best way to end this wonderful adventure. "For now I only know that Saturday I will play a game. Until a few days ago it was certain that I would stop playing. Now there are some interesting proposals. "In Wojciech Szczesny, Juventus have an excellent goalkeeper, who also has 13 years less than me. Giorgio Chiellini is the perfect example of how a Juve captain should be. "He has always been a reference for me. I wish him all the best." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  5. Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira has suggested that he is open to a Premier League move in future. The Germany international, who has previously been linked with Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, will see his current deal with Juventus expire at the end of next season. Khedira says he is "fine in Turin", but has suggested that he wants to play in England before hanging up his boots. "My contract expires in a year. I often think of the future because anything can happen. I'm fine here, but I love challenges and I look for them," the 31-year-old told Bild. "I would like to win as many titles as possible in as many championships as possible. Among the best leagues in Europe I lack England, having won in Spain, Germany and Italy. "The Premier League has always fascinated me. Winning the title there would complete my collection. But I do not want to nominate or propose: I'm fine in Turin and predicting the future in football is difficult." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  6. Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has refused to apologise to referee Michael Oliver following their Champions League exit. The Italian giants were knocked out of the Champions League by current holders Real Madrid 4-3 on aggregate after Oliver handed the Spanish side a late penalty. Medhi Benatia was adjudged to have fouled Lucas Vazquez in the area, which resulted in Buffon being sent off after arguing with the referee, before Cristiano Ronaldo converted from the spot in the 97th minute. Speaking to Italian TV program Le lene, Buffon said: "I'm sure Oliver will have a great career in the future, but he's too young to officiate a match like that. "The beauty, the imponderable nature of football, means that unfortunately this young man found himself in a situation that was too complex, too garbled and too big for him to deal with. "So at the end of the day, what I said after the match, I don't hold any rancour towards Oliver. I'm not even angry with him. It all ended there, but naturally in the heat of the moment one does feel I'm not saying penalised, I felt defrauded. "Not defrauded of the result, but of the night. It was a night that can never be repeated." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  7. Controversy reigned supreme at the Bernabeu as Cristiano Ronaldo's injury-time penalty put holders Real Madrid through to the Champions League semi-finals after holding off a near-miraculous Juventus comeback. The Portuguese talisman's 97th-minute penalty into the top corner of the net came after Medhi Benatia brought down Lucas Vazquez in the box. Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, in what might be his last Champions League appearance, was sent off by English referee Michael Oliver after awarding the spot-kick, for foul and abusive language. Football Manics looks at some of the reaction from the Real and Juve camps. Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus captain "It was a tenth of a penalty. "I know the referee saw what he saw, but it was certainly a dubious incident. Not clear-cut. And a dubious incident at the 93rd minute when we had a clear penalty denied in the first leg, you cannot award that at this point. "The team gave its all, but a human being cannot destroy dreams like that at the end of an extraordinary comeback on a dubious situation. "Clearly you cannot have a heart in your chest, but a bag of rubbish. On top of that, if you don't have the character to walk on a pitch like this in a stadium like this, you can sit in the stands with your wife, your kids, having your drink and eating crisps. "You cannot ruin the dreams of a team. I could've told the referee anything at that moment, but he had to understand the degree of the disaster he was creating. "If you can't handle the pressure and have the courage to make a decision, then you should just sit in the stands and eat your crisps." Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus coach "I have a bitter taste as we didn't have the chance to go to extra time. "Small details changed the whole tie unfortunately. I had two more substitutions planned for extra time and I was confident we could do it. "The first leg had given me confidence we could do this and the side deserved at least extra time. To cry right now is useless." Giorgio Chiellini, Juventus defender "It shouldn't be surprising, Bayern Munich went through it last year and this was Juve's turn. "Between the first leg and this one, just about everything happened. It's laughable that the Italian refereeing designator said things are going well in the Champions League. "Nobody thought we could turn it around, but we believed and it'll help us for the next Champions League campaigns. It'll be an objective for the future. "It wasn't an issue of VAR, because the referee still needs to have courage and a conscience.The referee must try to be less of a protagonist and give only clear-cut decisions. "You could tell at the time it wasn't a penalty, but seeing the footage back it's just laughable. We must remember that we beat Real Madrid 3-0 on their own turf and only a crazy person would've believed that going in. "We could've scored five or six goals, so we ought to be proud. We want to win the seventh Scudetto." Medhi Benatia, Juventus defender "We are sad, because we played the game we wanted to and last year the same thing happened to Bayern Munich," Benatia told Mediaset Premium. "Real Madrid are a great side, but every time there is a challenge, they get the decision and Cristiano Ronaldo scores. "I went around Vazquez and got the ball. He just went down because he had nothing else to do at that point. You can see the ball bounce off my foot and change direction. Going out to a penalty like that is absurd. "The referee needs to explain the rules, because if the captain can't even talk to the referee after a penalty is awarded, then who can? "We are the victims of this situation, but we're very proud of what we did tonight." Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid forward “Lucas Vazquez was fouled from behind and I think it was a clear penalty. Benatia and the rest of Juventus defenders were really aggressive during the whole game. That’s how they play. Today we could have scored two more but they denied us. We deserved to go through.” “I tried to remain calm before the kick-off. My heart was beating more than usual but I knew my penalty kick would have been decisive. Thanks god I scored. We are all very happy even if we suffered a lot. I have to admit that. This must teach us a lesson. Never give up in football and fight till the end.” Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid coach "It was a penalty, they've told me it was a penalty. I didn't see it. The ref awarded it and we can't change that, but I think it was a penalty. "Cristiano is used to these situations. He doesn't feel pressure. He scored the penalty and we got the win. "There is nothing left to say. We're in the semi-finals and we're happy with that. They played well but we were just average, the difference is we kept believing until the end. We deserved to go through to the semi-finals over the course of the tie and we can be pleased with that. "It wasn't a strange game, but we didn't expect to concede in the first minute. When that happens, heads drop and the opposition gain in confidence. They approached the game in the right way and we didn't. We had problems controlling the game. "I knew we would be up against it, but I didn't expect what happened in the first minute. We knew that we'd have to dig in against a side that put in a great performance and that press high up the pitch. "I didn't see us going out because I'm a positive person. I told my players we were going to be troubled, that it would be tricky." Lucas Vazquez, Real Madrid winger "Yes, it was a penalty. "When I went to hit the ball the centre-back arrived from behind and knocked me down. There's no discussion. "It's normal [that Juventus players protested], it was the final minute." Marcelo, Real Madrid full-back "We should face and we did everything possible to go through. "What happened to Barcelona wasn't going to happen to us because we're Real Madrid." Share your thoughts about this reaction feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  8. Antonio Conte has rubbished Gianluca Vialli's claims that the former Juventus boss is "almost looking forward to leaving Chelsea". Ex-Blues boss Vialli, who played alongside Conte at Juve, told Sky Italy that his former teammate appeared unsettled and implied that they would look to go their separate ways at the end of the season. Conte, however, says he has not spoken to Vialli in a long time, insisting his compatriot's comments simply add to the speculation about his future which has been an ongoing theme for much of the season. Addressing Vialli's comments ahead of Sunday's visit of West Ham, Conte told Sky Sports: "It's not true, it's not true. Gianluca is a friend but I am not talking with him for one year maybe. "It's not true. It's very difficult for me but since this season [started] I am listening to a lot of speculation about my future and I am hearing a lot of people talking about my future. "I am reading a lot of speculation about my future but [this has been] since the start of the season, not now. "The only thing that is true is that I am committed to this club. I have a contract with this club. I work very hard for this club. This is the only thing that is true. The other situations are not true." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  9. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a superb bicycle kick to help Real Madrid hammer Juventus in their own back yard in Tuesday night's Champions League quarter-final first leg in Turin. The Portugal forward made history with the first of his two goals, prodding home Isco's cross to become the first player to score in 10 consecutive Champions League games. Then came one of the great Champions League moments as Dani Carvajal lifted a cross to Ronaldo, who leapt in the air and hit a clean overhead kick which left Gianluigi Buffon motionless. Such was the brilliance of the strike that Juventus fans stood up to applaud the goal that all but destroyed their hopes of reaching the semi-finals. Paulo Dybala was then sent off and Marcelo struck a third for Real to put the La Liga side all but through to the final four, but the game will be remembered for Ronaldo's sublime second strike. Cristiano Ronaldo "Obviously people are talking about the second goal, it was amazing, probably the best of my career. "It was spectacular. I jumped very high and it's a goal that will live long in the memory. "I've been looking to do it for a while, but it depends on the circumstances of the game. It just came to me to give it a go, you always have to try it. I tried it today and it came off. "[The ovation from Juve fans] was one of the most poignant moments of the night. To receive applause from a stadium like this, which has been graced by great players, is a unique experience. "When I was a kid, I liked Juventus and the fact that their fans have clapped me will stay with me." Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid boss "You can say he's one of the most beautiful players in the history of football. "He shows every time that he is a special player. He always wants to do great things in the Champions League and he never gets tired of doing it, that's his great quality. "Cristiano is in good form at the moment. His team-mates are very happy with him. We need to enjoy tonight, but then think about the hard work ahead of next week because Juve won't give up." Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus boss "I don't know if Cristiano's goal is the best in the history of football, but it's certainly an extraordinary goal. You can only congratulate him for what he's doing at present. "However, I am disappointed about the third goal, because at that point we still could have turned the tie in the second leg. Now it will be impossible." Gianluigi Buffon, Juve goalkeeper "Ronaldo is a player who is at an incredible level. Ronaldo's worth is comparable to (Diego) Maradona, (Lionel) Messi or Pele. My Champions League dream isn't possible because the best have stopped it." Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  10. Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed he will move to another country to look for his next job after he leaves Juventus. The Italian coach is aiming to win a fourth consecutive Serie A title with the Bianconeri, adding to the Scudetto he won at AC Milan. Allegri has been linked to Chelsea and Arsenal in recent months and has confirmed he will be looking to move abroad for his next job. "Certainly I will go abroad," Allegri told The Telegraph. "In Italy, finished." According to The Sun, Allegri is ‘all set’ to step in at Chelsea just as soon as compatriot Antonio Conte has been sacked. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  11. Emre Can has hit out at "false" reports claiming that he has demanded huge wages to remain at Liverpool. The 25-year-old will see his current Reds deal expire in the summer and is believed to be heading to Juventus at the end of the season. Jurgen Klopp has however kept the door open for Can to re-commit to Liverpool. Reports in the English press earlier this week claimed that the Germany midfielder has demanded more than £200,000 per week to stay at Anfield, which would make him the club's highest-paid player. However, Can said on Instagram: "Interesting stories about me in the press. I'm no longer going to comment on any false stories or rumours. "I've just returned from international duty with the German team and working on coming back from injury. Looking forward to getting back on the pitch asap." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  12. Two huge Champions League games take place on Wednesday as Manchester City just need to see out their last-16 second leg against Basel, while Tottenham Hotspur will be locking horns with Juventus with the tie evenly balanced. How will these games pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look in this preview. Manchester City vs. Basel Man City won the first leg 4-0 at St. Jakob-Park thanks to goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero, and although they may make a few changes, Pep Guardiola is eager to combat any complacency. Indeed, complacency has led to the Citizens coming unstuck a few times, namely against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup, but aside from that and a few other little blips, Guardiola's charges continue to steamroll everything in front of them. In terms of team news, City are still likely to be without midfielder Fernandinho and forward Raheem Sterling, who have just returned to training after hamstring injuries, while Fabian Delph could return at left-back, having served a three-game domestic suspension. So do Basel have any hope? Well, they have won their last two away games in the Champions League 2-0 - against CSKA Moscow and Benfica - but have lost their two games on the road in the knockout stages of the competition by a combined score of 11-0, and also no team has ever progressed to the next round following a 0-4 home defeat in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie. So in short, the answer is no. City will be conservative and not even get out of second gear but will still do enough to get a result and coast into the quarters. Score prediction: Man City 3-0 Basel (Man City to progress 7-0 on aggregate) Tottenham Hotspur vs. Juventus Tottenham came from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the first leg in Turin and go into the second leg at Wembley with an advantage after picking up those two away goals. Both Spurs and Juventus are enjoying good domestic form with three successive wins apiece. In fact, Juve have not even conceded a goal in Serie A since 30 December 2017 in a 3-1 victory over Hellas Verona. Tottenham, meanwhile, have won their last seven games at Wembley. Their last home defeat came in October, when they were knocked out of the EFL Cup with a 3-2 defeat by West Ham. Toby Alderweireld will miss the game as he returned last month after three months out with a hamstring injury but will not be available at Wembley, while full-back Serge Aurier is suspended. Juventus, meanwhile, are without Juan Cuadrado, Mattia de Sciglio and Federico Bernardeschi, who are all injured. Wembley will undoubtedly be roaring as the Bianconeri come to town and the hosts will give a good performance but I expect the Italians to have just enough for victory and progress. Score prediction: Spurs 1-2 Juve (Juve to progress 3-4 on aggregate) Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  13. Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has suggested that Toby Alderweireld will not be involved in the Champions League meeting with Juventus next week. Spurs host the Serie A champions at Wembley Stadium next Wednesday with the last-16 tie level at 2-2 following the first leg in Turin earlier this month. Central defender Alderweireld is yet to resume training after suffering a tweak in the same hamstring which kept him sidelined for four months this season, and has not played a league game since October. "He is still recovering. He is still not participating with the group," Pochettino told reporters ahead of the FA Cup fifth-round replay with Rochdale on Wednesday night. "When you tear a muscle, then you are fit but fit to participate in training. And then, it's to be fit to play, and then to compete. It's a different process and sometimes it's longer, depending on the injury. "Sometimes, the people create an expectation and then we are the bad guys, when we say 'no you cannot play' or we start to build your fitness step by step. "It's our responsibility sometimes, but it's impossible to explain everything. It's just to be careful about the player because we want Toby 100 per cent ready to play. "And then it's my decision to pick him. But if you have your best player at 100 per cent, it's sure that he increases your level and he's going to help. "But we don't take our decisions based on public opinion. We are professional and when we take a decision, it's because we have assessed and analysed, we have thought 100 times to try to take the best decision for the team and for the player." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  14. The Champions League is back and now is when the competitions gets proper serious as the last-16 first legs get underway! Two games on Tuesday so let Football Manics take you through them with our dedicated preview. Juventus vs. Tottenham Hotspur (7:45pm GMT) Mauricio Pochettino's charges travel to Turin to face a Juventus side which has won the last six Serie A titles in a row but finds its latest Scudetto challenge under threat from Napoli, who currently top the table by a single point. Juve suffered a somewhat wobbly start to their campaign but are now firing on all cylinders, boasting a 16-match unbeaten streak coming into this game, and more frighteningly for Spurs, the Bianconeri have conceded just once in that period and have won their last 11 games. Tottenham, meanwhile, go into this game on the back of a solid 1-0 win over North London rivals Arsenal and unbeaten in 12, while their only defeat in 17 was at Manchester City. It will be interesting to see how the prolific Harry Kane and his fellow attackers will do against such a sturdy defence. When two heavyweights in such sparkling form come together, it's difficult to make a prediction. The logical school of thought suggests that these two will cancel each other out, but given how watertight Juve's defence has been, alongside the attacking might of Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala, plus home advantage, I'm tipping the Bianconeri to win this. Score prediction: 2-0 Basel vs. Manchester City (7:45pm GMT) When it comes to claiming English scalps, Basel have a pretty good track record. They beat Manchester United at St Jakob-Park in the group stages of the Champions League this season on route to qualifying in second place, and also beat the Red Devils in 2011, plus Chelsea in 2013. But the side coming to town on Tuesday isn't just an average or good or even great English side; this season, Manchester City are staking a claim for one of the best English teams of all time. A gargantuan 16 points clear in the Premier League race, in the final of the EFL Cup and still in the FA Cup, the Citizens are on the hunt for a quadruple clean sweep. Pep Guardiola gave his players four days off following the 1-1 draw at Burnley earlier this month and the following fixture saw Sergio Aguero score four goals and Kevin De Bruyne putting in another stellar performance in a 5-1 hammering of 2015-16 champions Leicester City. Given the huge cushion that Man City boast in the league and a six-day gap until the next game, the FA Cup fifth-round trip to League One Wigan Athletic, I can't see Guardiola pondering whether to ration his players - he will probably name his big guns and, should they be firing on all cylinders, I can see them taking a healthy lead back to the Etihad. Score prediction: 0-3 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  15. Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri has ruled out midfielder Blaise Matuidi for his side’s Champions League game with Tottenham Hotspur after he limped off in Sunday’s match against Sassuolo. The 30-year-old picked up a muscular injury and was replaced by Claudio Marchisio in the 26th minute of the 7-0 mauling of the Neroverdi at the Allianz Stadium. Goals from Alex Sandro, Miralem Pjanic, a brace from Sami Khedira and a hat-trick from Gonzalo Higuaín completed Juventus's win over the league's 15th-placed side. Allegri confirmed the France international will miss Juventus’ first-leg away visit at Spurs on 13 February. "Blaise Matuidi seems to have a muscular issue, but we have players like Claudio Marchisio and Dybala who are getting closer to fitness. Matuidi won't be there against Tottenham," Allegri told Mediaset Premium. Allegri was also full of praise for the way his team played on the day: "Many players are beginning to reach their ideal form. "It was important to win so we could definitively break away from chasing pack, who are now 14 points away. "There is no secret to our success, we simply have lads with good values who want to win what feels like their first Scudetto. We want to stay on Napoli's tails going into the sprint finish." He stated. Juventus currently have 59 points from 23 games and are second after Napoli won at Benevento on Sunday night. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  16. Jurgen Klopp appears to have resigned himself to the fact that Emre Can will probably run his Liverpool contract down and leave for nothing in the summer. However, the Reds boss is adamant that his compatriot will not be leaving in January. Can's contract with Liverpool runs out on June 30, meaning the 24-year-old is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a club outside of the Premier League, and Juventus are interested in the German midfielder. "He'll stay beyond the winter," Klopp told DAZN. "Emre is still a young lad but he has developed into a great player and is very important for us. "Sometimes a player just wants to sit out his contract. That's not cool for the club, but there are moments in which you have to accept it. "And as long as the player behaves like Emre does, then I have absolutely nothing to complain about. He gives everything he has and identifies with the club." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  17. Juventus director general Giuseppe Marotta has insisted that the club will not consider selling Paulo Dybala unless he asks to leave. The 24-year-old Argentine has made a name for himself as one of the best prospects in world football since joining Juventus from fellow Serie A side Palermo for £35m in June 2015. Dybala has scored 44 goals in 84 league games for Juve, including 14 so far this season. As a result he has been linked to a move to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Marotta, however, is adamant that the Iralian champions are determined to hold onto their prized asset. "He is a very strong player, on who rely a lot," Marotta told Sky Italia. "But Dybala will undoubtedly remain at Juve, also because we do not need to sell anyone, unless the same player asks." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  18. The temperature on the Apennines is warming up as the top four teams are all within 4 points of each other. Napoli is leading the charge sitting on top of the table with 42 points in 17 matches. The margin for error is smaller than ever now, so you can expect all top teams to put pedal to the metal to get the best possible position before the winter break. Also, you won't be watching Italians in their usual Sunday schedule due to Christmas, so all of the matches take place on Friday and Saturday. Now, let's get rolling with the preview! Chievo vs Bologna (Friday) The action begins in Veneto where Chievo and Bologna will clash at the Stadio Marcantio Bentegodi. These two sides have accumulated the same amount of points at this stage – 21, with Bologna sitting in 12th place and Chievo just underneath in 13th. Chievo are out of form, collecting just 2 wins in 10 last league matches. Last week, they suffered unexpected lost away at Crotone and they will most certainly want to make up for that in front of their own fans. Inglese is their main hope in the offensive department with 6 goals next to his name, and he'll want to add to that against a solid Bologna side that suffered two loses in the last two games after a series of good results. It should be noted that the defeats came at the hands of Juventus and Milan, so it certainly shouldn't bring their morale down, especially considering the dip in form Chievo is feeling lately. Factoring it all in, these two sides could easily neutralize each other, and the draw could be on the cards here. Prediction: Draw Cagliari vs Fiorentina (Friday) 14th placed Cagliari host Fiorentina as they bid to move further away from the danger zone. They haven’t been impressive this season, but certainly good enough to avoid relegation, one would think. Last week, they suffered a heart-breaking loss to Roma by conceding a penalty in the 94th minute. The hosts have been able to get all the important victories against relatively weaker teams, but they still didn’t make an upset losing to all top 10 teams they went up against. It’s pretty unlikely they’ll get a clean sheet as they concede an average of almost two goals in their own home. On the other hand, Fiorentina are just 4 points short of European spots, so they’ll definitely go all-in to take the win tomorrow, as these are the type of games they should be winning if they want to play in Europe next season. Viola have been struggling with the efficiency recently scoring just 5 goals in the same number of matches, only enough to get 4 draws and just a single win. Fiorentina will rely on Thereau who showed up in big fashion this season, scoring 4 goals and adding the same number of assists. Behind the strikers, their main man is this summer’s acquisition Jordan Veretout, and 24 year old Frenchman looks like he’s the future of Fiorentina. With Cagliari’s inefficiency and Fiorentina’s solid defensive structure I can see I Viola getting something more in this one. Prediction: Fiorentina Lazio vs Crotone (Saturday) Lazio will host Crotone in Rome in the opening Saturday game of Italian football this week. The game is scheduled at 12:30 CET, and the hosts surely schedule a win in their calendar. The Eagles look to make a leap to the Champions League spots, sitting in 5th, 5 points behind their arch rivals, Roma. Fueled by Immobile’s inspiring scoring streak, with 15 goals in 16 matches, Lazio are playing offensive and beautiful football under the less famous Inzaghi brother, Simone. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is playing beyond all expectations this season, mixing skill and strength in a way you don’t see very often when looking at young players like him and there’s no doubt Lotito will have offers for the youngster flying at his desk this summer. Luis Alberto is another rising star. The La Masia dropout is now in incredible form and adding a special bit of flair to Inzaghi’s mixture of strength, skill and offensive football. Crotone on the other hand, mainly look to avoid relegation, and from this point of view, it looks like it’s going to be a long battle for them. The board reacted to the string of bad results with the appointment of experienced international, Walter Zenga. In their 8 away matches, they have been only able to get a single draw and a win, piling up 6 losses, and that itself says a lot. Furthermore, the guests scored abysmal 6 goals in 8 away matches, conceding 20 in the same period. All in all, Lazio will look to get back on track in the Champions League hunt, and it’s must-win situation for them against a weak opponent, and to make things worse for Crotone, Zenga is suspended for this match and won’t be able to help his team from the sidelines. Prediction: Lazio Genoa vs Benevento (Saturday) "Saint Gennaro, please don't forget you are from Benevento,“ was the message of Benevento fans, who can now only rely on miracle of Saint Gennaro in order to avoid quick relegation. As things stand, it looks impossible for a spirited Benevento side to snatch spot number 17, but bigger miracles did happen, and the attitude their side is showing is just impressive, despite historically bad results. Benevento side were able to "steal“ a fairytale point off of Milan in the incredible string of events which eventually led to sacking of Montella. They even took the lead in their clash with fellow newly-promoted side SPAL, but couldn't hold on to it, falling in an even bigger hole result-wise. On the other hand, matches like these are perfect opportunity for Ligurians to escape the relegation zone, but the way Genoa are playing this season, nothing is sure as they couldn't get an even single win in their own stadium the whole season. The way things are standing, the uninspired hosts could be suprised by the resistance the Benevento side has been showing lately. Prediction: Draw Napoli vs Sampdoria (Saturday) One of the best matches you’ll find this weekend is the clash in Naples. Sarri’s troops will host the Northerners from Genoa in their pursue for the Scudetto, the first one since 1990 and the unforgettable Maradona years. Napoli look like they have it all sorted out, the fans were always 100% with the club, they never trusted a coach like they do the former bank employee who happens to be the conductor of some of the most beautiful football in Europe. They lost only one match in Serie A, and Hamsik finally took a big burden off his back by scoring his 115th goal and equalizing Maradona’s record. Mertens is facing a goal drought of 5 games, and it certainly affects his confidence, so he’s definitely a man who wants to get back on track. Napoli can’t let this slip as Sampdoria is slowing down as the season progresses, and they don’t look as good as they a month ago, which however still doesn’t mean they don’t represent a viable threat. Fabio Quagliarella will return to San Paolo, and despite the fact he’ll get the warmest welcome in the world, don’t forget he’s a natural killer in front of goal, and a true threat for any defence out there. Sampdoria don’t look good lately as they were only able to pick up a single draw and three defeats in last 4 Serie A matches. They are standing at suprising 6th spot, but they can’t relax as the competition in the league is fierce this season, and few more slip-ups could see them falling down to middle of the table. Also, the fact they won only 9 points in 8 away games doesn’t really help them either against an opponent of this strength. Prediction: Napoli Sassuolo vs Inter (Saturday) With the suprrising 3-1 loss to Udinese last weekend, Inter were knocked off of number 1 spot, and now sit in 3rd place just one and two points short of Juventus and Napoli, respectively. The host from Modena is rising, collecting 6 points in their last two league games. They managed to stun Sampdoria with Matri’s winner in 90th minute, lifting the spirits in Sassuolo after a disappointing start of the season. Sassuolo is one of the worst home teams in the league, collecting miserable 5 points in eight matches. However, they were able to stop the wineless streak at home against Crotone, and now they look like they’re on the rise, and they want to escape the relegation zone as they are just 3 points off undesirable spots. It looks like the appointment of Beppe Iachini brought them some much needed spark, but is it just short-term shock therapy or do they have it in them to make this streak last? Spalletti took his magic to Milano this summer and brought up the best of his Inter side. Now, after nine fixtures, Nerazzurri look like legitimate title candidates, led by beastly Mauro Icardi. The amazing Argentinian managed to bag in 17 goals and is looking as the main Capocannoniere candidate for the best scorer of the league. He gets a lot of help from his favorite winger, Ivan Perisic, who is playing out of his mind lately, and the Manchester rumors will only get bigger if he keeps playing at this pace. Inter have no time to waste if they want to knock Juventus off of their throne, and they need to get back on winning track quickly, and no slip-ups are allowed at this point for them. Prediction: Inter SPAL vs Torino (Saturday) SPAL claimed a hard-earned win playing away at Benevento last weekend. Character they shown after going down 1-0 to win the match will definitely be encouraging coming into a tough fixture for Leonardo Semplici and his team. SPAL is topping the relegation zone with 14 points, just like 17th placed Genoa. Another good sign for SPAL is that Floccari was able to score a brace last weekend, showing he could be a valuable asset in the relegation battle. The less famous Turin club fell to defeat last week to Napoli, but they were able to bounce back with a big win against Roma in the Italian Cup. Torino is now in the middle of the table at 10th and Mihajlovic and his players are looking up to grab European spots, being just 4 points short off 7th placed Sampdoria. Their main-man Belotti isn’t playing as expected this season scoring just 4 goals for now, but he is contributing in other aspects, and we’ll surely see the best of him as the season progresses. Iago Falque proved to be important for Mihajlovic’s side with 5 goals up to this points, more than enough for a winger. In their last away match, Torino were able to beat Lazio 3-1 in a great match, where they could’ve scored 3 more goals if they were focused enough. Considering Torino’s solid record in the away matches and SPAL’s oscillating form, you can expect to see Belotti step up and lead his team to victory here. Prediction: Torino and Belotti to score Udinese vs Verona (Saturday) Following Udinese season-to-season it just seems like every next year is a replay of the last one. Just like always, Udinese comfortably sit middle of the table, safe enough not to be worried about relegation, but without any ambition for the European spots. The hosts are in great form, collecting 9 points in the last 5 league matches, and they look like they're on the rise, so Saturday's clash with Verona could see them continue their spirited streak as they are getting contributions from all sides, with Lasagna, Barak and De Paul having scored 14 goals between themselves. Sitting second-to-bottom of the table, Verona isn't looking good this season. They score an average of just a goal a game, which maybe could be sufficient if they didn't concede 32 goals in 17 matches. However, last week they stunned everyone with amazing 3-0 win over Milan. They were able to take advantage of every flaw in Milan's defense while keeping a solid structure at the back, which lead to the best result of their season. Taking all factors into account, Udinese's rising form, huge 3-1 win over championship candidate Inter last week and playing on their own turf, I can't see Verona getting anything out of this match despite their great showing last week. Prediction: Udinese AC Milan vs Atalanta (Saturday) The fireman in the shape of Gattuso was brought in after Montella's sacking, but the fire just keeps on spreading, leaving no man behind. Last week’s 3-0 loss to a weak Verona side meant that Milan has hit rock bottom. Gattuso decided that it was too much, and put all of his players in the training camp which they can’t leave until Saturday’s match. Gennaro’s extreme methods are Milan’s last hope to keep the season alive and have a happy christmas at the city of the mode. Donnarumma’s problems off the pitch don’t help the situation either, and to top it all of, their best player this season, Suso, is suspended due to a red card in the embarrassing loss to Verona. Atalanta is the side you definitely don’t want to face in mid-crisis. They always look solid tactically and proving that the last season wasn’t fluke as they sit in 7th spot with the same amount of points as Milan, but better goal difference that puts them on top. Atalanta beat Sassuolo in the cup match, and they put in a great performance, but couldn’t get the 3 points off of Lazio in a thrilling 3-3 draw last weekend. Taking all into account, Gatusso could wake his team up, but you can’t ignore a well-versed Atalanta side and the most expected outcome here is the draw with at least a goal in both nets. Prediction: Draw Juventus vs Roma (Saturday) Here it is! The spectacle of the weekend in Italy will be played in Turin where the home team will look to clinch victory. The match will be played on Saturday at 20:45 CET, so make sure you don’t miss this one. Just as always, Juve is improving as the season goes on. They usually start at a slower pace, and this season isn’t any different. Right now, they look powerful, easily skinning 4 points from clashes with Napoli and Inter, they come into this one with a lot of confidence and championship mentality they always bring into matches of this magnitude. Allegri was willing to start Dybala in the cup match where he scored after giving him a bench treatment in the last two league matches. We can expect dangerous and fast-paced Argentinian to be in the starting 11 this weekend along with Miralem Pjanic, who is always extra motivated for this derby as he spent 5 years in Roma leading the midfield. As for the injuries, Buffon is out, just like Cuadrado who is suffering from groin injury and won’t be available for Saturday’s clash. Di Francesco brought some nice flavor to Roma, as they’re sitting in 4th having played a game less than rivals in front of them. They took a loss in the cup, but the good news is they can now focus on the league until February when Champions League takes place. Last week, they took hard-earned win against Cagliari at home, scoring off 94th minute penalty. Their main striker, Edin Dzeko, is facing small crisis scoring-wise, but we can expect him to pick it up as he already scored 8 goals this season. Lately, Schick has been getting more and more opportunity, as the young striker is proving to be very useful even when he’s not on the goalscoring sheet. Roma isn’t facing major injury problems, and they are ready to go out and show what they’re made of. Prediction: Juventus Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  19. Chelsea have been drawn against five-time European champions Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League. Although arguably the toughest draw, the Blues managed to beat Barca in the 2011-12 semi-finals before lifting the trophy at the end of the season. Tottenham Hotspur will face Serie A title-holders Juventus, Liverpool will take on Portuguese side Porto, Manchester City are up against Basel, and Manchester United will meet Sevilla. Defending champions Real Madrid have drawn Paris Saint-Germain in arguably the most illustrious tie of the round of 16. A record five English teams progressed from the group stage this season. Chelsea were the only English team to make it through as runners-up, with the other four sides all topping their respective groups. The group winners will be away in the round of 16 first legs on 13/14 and 20/21 February, and at home in the return matches on 6/7 and 13/14 March. The final will take place in Kiev on 26 May. Meanwhile, in the Europa League, Celtic have been drawn against Zenit St Petersburg in the last 32 of the Europa League. Arsenal, who won their Europa League group and were one of the seeded teams, will face Swedish side Ostersunds FK. The first legs will be played on 15 February and the second legs will be played on 22 February. The final will take place in Stockholm on 24 May. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  20. Alvaro Morata has claimed that he would be willing to sign a 10-year contract at Chelsea after clarifying comments that he was unhappy with life in London. The Spaniard told Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport that he would not be staying in London for long as the city was "too stressful". But in the press conference ahead of the Blues' Champions League tie at Roma, the £70m signing from Real Madrid reaffirmed his commitment to the club. He told Sky Sports News: "We have a problem of understanding in this interview. "If Chelsea proposed me 10 years I would probably sign it as I am happy at the club, I am happy with the city and everything in London. "I really like London and if I improve, probably I can stay here more than five years. I need to score many goals otherwise Chelsea would buy another player, it is normal. "I wanted to say that probably in the future when I finish my career I probably won't live there but now I am very happy in London and I am enjoying London with my wife. "I really like it now but probably in the future when I have a child and want to take him to school once I have finished my career, I prefer to go back to my country. "It is normal for me. When I say it's a stressful city I mean the traffic and a lot of people. I say to it is an incredible city with many religions and different kind of people so I really enjoy London." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  21. Chelsea forward Alvaro Morata has suggested that he would still be playing for Juventus had Real Madrid not activated a buyback clause to force him back to the Bernabeu. After playing for Los Blancos between 2008 and 2014, the Spaniard left to join the Bianconeri, scoring 27 goals in 93 appearances in his two years in Turin. However, Real decided to re-sign the 25-year-old in the summer of 2016, and Morata has criticised the Spanish champions for how they treated him on his return to Madrid. "Why I chose to return to Real Madrid? Because there were contractual agreements that needed to be respected," Morata told Gazzetta dello Sport. "The disappointment was enormous: I found myself back to square one. They treated me like the boy I was before my two seasons in Italy. "Juve's trademark? A winning mentality and great professionalism. My two seasons at Juve were great. I went there as a boy and left as a real player. "For a Spaniard, Italy is the best country to live in. You have everything: beauty, history, art, cooking, fashion. I'd have never left Italy and Juve." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  22. Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has reiterated his intention to retire next summer, unless he wins the Champions League in May. The 39-year-old intends to bow out following the 2018 World Cup, which he hopes to participate in with the Azzurri, who face Sweden in a qualifying playoff next month. However, winning the Champions League for the first time with the Bianconeri could postpone his retirement as he may then target winning next season's FIFA Club World Cup. "This is my last season and I'm pretty convinced with the decision I have taken," Buffon told Sky Sport Italia. "More than anything, I am a serene person in that I have no fear for the future and what could be my life. "I am facing it and I will face it with the desire and enthusiasm to put myself to the test. As a consequence, playing on for one or two more years would not take anything away from or add anything to what I have already done. "Like with everything, I look for a reason, and the only reason [to continue] would be winning the Champions League. At that point, I would like to try to win the Club World Cup, and maybe [Wojciech] Szczesny would let me play one game. "But I think that, with a goalkeeper like him behind you, it's normal that I step aside from next year." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  23. Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero has deemed Paulo Dybala the present number 10 "superstar" at the club and suggests he could remain with the Bianconeri "for life". The Argentine has caught the eyes of many of the continent's biggest teams following his amazing performances since his move from Palermo. Dybala has even managed to take it up a further notch, scoring 10 Serie A goals in seven appearances, which has only intensified suggestions that one of Barcelona or Real Madrid could come calling in the New Year. Del Piero hopes to see the 23-year-old stick around for the remainder of his career, however, telling Gazzetta dello Sport: "He's raised his level even further at the start of this season. "He's doing exciting things. I'm not just talking about goals, I'm talking about how he can decide matches when he turns it on. "I hope he can have what I did [in terms of adulation] in Turin, because no-one can enter the hearts of the fans like him. "The number 10 [jersey] wasn't really my property. Before me was Roberto Baggio, [Omar] Sivori and [Michel] Platini – they all wore it. "And now there's a superstar who has everything to stay at Juve for life if he wants to. I'm so happy." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  24. Giorgio Chiellini has become the latest player to pledge one percent of his wages to Juan Mata's Common Goal charity. The 33-year-old Juventus defender joins Bayern Munich's Mats Hummels and USA Women's National Team World Cup winners Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe in donating a portion of their wages. Most of the players involved were contacted by the charity but Chiellini got in touch himself via email. "Hello. I'm Giorgio Chiellini, player of Juventus," the email read. "I'm interested to support your program and I would like to give my congratulations to Juan Mata for finding the time and having the idea to support through football people less lucky than us. "I'm not interested in advertising, I want only to support a brilliant project. Sorry for my English, I try to make the best as possible! I wait for your answer about complete the registration. Bye, Giorgio." Chiellini was then contacted via Skype and has now formally come on board with Common Goal, which supports global football initiatives for disadvantaged children. "By joining Common Goal, I hope I can encourage the younger generation of players to think about social responsibility in their lives," the Italian said in a statement. "As professional footballers, we are in a fortunate position compared to much in society. I think it's important we keep this in mind and try and support those less lucky than us where we can." The Common Goal fund is run by the Berlin-based organisation streetfootballworld, which invests in more than 120 football-based charities in 80 countries. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  25. Paulo Dybala says he is "very happy" to remain a part of Juventus's long-term plans, despite interest from Barcelona. The Argentina international is understood to have been on the Catalan club's radar in the summer after another impressive campaign in which he helped the Bianconeri to a sixth-successive Serie A crown and a Coppa Italia. Agent Mino Raiola suggested on Monday that the 23-year-old will eventually depart Juventus for another European heavyweight, with Real Madrid also said to have shown an interest over the past 18 months. Dybala appears to be content in Turin for the time being, though, telling reporters: "Nobody has said anything to me [about a Barca bid]. The club never came to me to say there was an offer on the table. "The only thing the club said to me is that they want me to be part of this project for a long time, and I'm happy about that. As long as the club and the president want me at Juve, that's where I'll be." Asked about the prospect of linking up with Lionel Messi at the Nou Camp, Dybala added: "He's already my teammate for Argentina but I'm really good at Juventus, although I don't know what's going to happen in the future. I'm very happy to wear an important shirt like the number 10." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.

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