Pjanic believes Juventus will only improve after perfect start

Miralem Pjanic sounded a warning to Juventus’ Serie A title rivals that the best is yet to come from Massimiliano Allegri’s side after they thrashed Torino 4-0.

The champions made it six wins from six in the top flight on Saturday, with Paulo Dybala drilling them ahead against their Turin rivals before Daniele Baselli saw red for the visitors.

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Pjanic, who teed up Dybala’s opener, then got in on the act himself with an excellent strike, before setting up Alex Sandro for a third.

Dybala completed the rout late on and Pjanic has no doubt that Juve will continue to build on their hugely impressive start.

“It was a good performance, providing both quality and quantity. Torino usually cause problems for their opponents, but we were never under threat,” he said.

“I’m glad with the team performance and we should continue like this. There’s a lot of quality in this squad and the new arrivals are settling in really well, so we can only improve.

“The season has just begun, so we will continue with this tempo, we’re in good shape, the team is gaining confidence and keeping clean sheets.”

Allegri, meanwhile, was delighted with the display, though believes that his players need to be smarter with some of their decisions.

“The lads had a really good game, including the opening 20 minutes, then once Torino went down to 10 men we controlled the match,” said the Juve coach, whose team face Olympiacos next.

“Even then, we allowed a couple of situations that could’ve been avoided. We slowed the tempo a bit too much after the break, but still created a great deal.

“It wasn’t easy, as this Torino side is tough to beat, but it was the best way to prepare for Wednesday’s Champions League game.

“When we’re in control, we must try to avoid injuries. For example, Paulo Dybala kept the ball for too long in the second half and drew the foul, when he should’ve passed or shot immediately.

“Napoli are playing very good football and getting results, which after all is what really matters. People only remember those who finish first, not second or third when playing well.”

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Baselli’s dismissal midway through the first half all but ended any hopes of a Torino comeback and the midfielder took to social media to apologise for his indiscipline.

“I made a mistake. I apologise to my teammates, our fans, to society,” Baselli’s tweet read.

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The Bianconeri were relegated to Serie B in 2006 but now they are Champions League finalists, as strong off the field as they are on it


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“A cyclone” is how Beppe Marotta describes ‘Calciopoli ‘, a swirling scandal that swept through Italian football in 2006 and reduced Juventus to rubble.

When he arrived in Turin four years on from the club’s relegation to Serie B, the Old Lady was back in the top flight but still struggling with a sense of loss.

“We found a disheartened atmosphere but, above all else, there was no football culture,” the Juventus CEO explained. “That’s what the president and we directors tried to bring to the club.”

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That president was Andrea Agnelli and even his surname offered Juve’s beleaguered fan base hope of a renaissance. Not since his father Umberto’s reign had ended in 1962 had a member of the Agnelli family held the most prestigious position at the most loved – and hated – club in Italy.

Andrea may have been a member of the country’s financial and footballing aristocracy but he was, first and foremost, a Juve fan. He was as shocked as he was pained by the state of the club, which was coming off the back of a dismal seventh-placed finish in Serie A. He saw not only a broken club but a broken system. Even today, he claims that in Italy there is “a total absence of medium-to-long term vision. The Italian system thinks about earning one or two million today, rather than 10 million tomorrow.”

Deloitte Football Money League Juventus PS

Agnelli, though, certainly does not lack foresight. He first created a clearly defined club structure, immediately appointing Marotta as general director and Fabio Paratici as sporting director, before later bringing former fan favourite Pavel Nedved on board as vice-president. Marotta and Paratici had already constructed an exciting squad together at Sampdoria, while Nedved has proven an equally shrewd addition, a Ballon d’Or winner who serves as a beloved intermediary between the players and the president. By the time of the Czech’s arrival in 2012, Agnelli had already started reinventing the Juventus brand.

The wheels may have already been in motion regarding the construction of a new home – which facilitated an ‘English-style’ atmosphere that has driven the team’s sporting and financial success – but Agnelli managed the move masterfully.

The JStadium (soon to become the Allianz Stadium) would be quickly complemented by the JVillage and the JMuseum. Most recently, the club’s crest has been revamped and while it is certainly not to everyone’s tastes, it is entirely in keeping with Agnelli’s vision of the future, a symbol of the club’s modernisation.

He has been bold, innovative – even overseeing a commercial deal with ‘Checco’, a baby accessories company – and, most importantly, successful. After dropping to an all-time low of 13th place in Deloitte’s Football Money League in 2011, Juve have now reclaimed their place in the top 10, with their revenue having risen from €172 million to €388m by the end of the last financial year. The next best Italian team, AC Milan, sit 16th.

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“What we have done in a time of crisis is unprecedented,” Agnelli enthused at the club’s assembly in October.

Indeed, Italy’s recession ultimately caught up with several grossly mismanaged Serie A sides, chief among them Inter and AC Milan, which as Tim Bridge, author of Deloitte’s Football Money League, tells Goal, contributed to the unique economic growth of the well-run Bianconeri.

“Juve rather impressively identified the problems with the old Italian model of clubs renting a stadium off the local council and took the rather bold decision to not only build their own, but also reduce the capacity from around 80,000 to 41,000,” he acknowledges.

Andrea Agnelli Juventus PS

“By doing so, they created a demand for tickets and a safe, secure environment that attracted a new audience to their games. That set them apart from all of their traditional rivals. However, Juve have also benefited enormously from the other Italian clubs’ poor results in European competition because it has allowed them to keep almost the entire market pool from Italy’s Champions League TV revenue all for themselves.”

However, while Juve have become a money-making model for every other Serie A side, Agnelli differs from many of his peers in that his primary concern is making money for the club – not himself.

“My vision of the management of a professional club at the highest level is based on one concept,” he has previously explained, “and that is ‘Football above everything else.'”

Consequently, Agnelli has given Moratta and Paratici more and more money to work with – and they have almost always spent it shrewdly.

There were notable early failures – Milos Krasic for one – but Juve’s record in the market since 2011 is staggeringly good. ‘The BBC’ of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, the greatest backline of the modern era, was assembled at a cost of €23.6m. Carlos Tevez was picked up for just €11m. Andrea Pirlo – “my greatest ever signing”, as Marotta calls him – arrived on a free, as did Sami Khedira, Dani Alves and Paul Pogba, who was sold to Manchester United last summer for a world-record €105m fee.

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Now viewed as a master of the market, Marotta was recently asked how he selects his signings? He replied, “In two ways: We either take someone who is already an established champion: look at Dani Alves, [Mario] Mandzukic, Khedira, [Gonzalo] Higuain and so on. Or, we look for talent. But only a talent who can become a champion.

“That means someone who has not only the technical qualities but also the human values to turn into a champion, as happened with [Paulo] Dybala, for example.”

Gianluigi Buffon Juventus

Juve will not buy a player who does not buy into the club culture that Agnelli has so carefully cultivated. Of course, showing new arrivals ‘lo stile Juve’ (The Juve style) is made easier by the presence of players like captain Gianluigi Buffon.

As former Juve captain Gianluca Vialli says, “Gigi represents everything it means to be Juve: hunger, humility, ruthlessness, a sense of belonging.”

Buffon was one of the select few to endure what he calls “a summer of understandable exits” and stay at Juventus despite their demotion to Serie B in 2006. Two weeks ago, he claimed his sixth successive Scudetto and, Buffon being Buffon, promptly paid tribute to “those who work on the pitch and off the pitch to allow me to do my best, all of this wouldn’t be possible.

“And the most amazing this is that all of this is still not over.”

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Indeed, on Saturday, they will face Real Madrid in the Champions League final. Victory over a side assembled at a cost of €638.2m (Juve’s squad cost 215.9m less)  would represent the culmination and vindication of everything Agnelli and his directors have done over the past seven years.

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They could, of course, have conquered the continent in 2015 but they were beaten in Berlin by Barcelona. Even Marotta admits, though, that they hadn’t expected to be there. After years of continental disappointment under the otherwise inspirational Antonio Conte – another crucial figure in reasserting the club’s domestic dominance when he arrived as coach in 2011 – Juve’s final appearance in what was Massimiliano Allegri’s first season had taken even his bosses by surprise.

That 3-1 loss served as a lesson – as did the following year’s last-16 defeat to Bayern Munich – and Juve learned from it. While they had laid the foundations for domestic dominance, it was clear to them that they needed to make another leap in quality.

Andrea Agnelli Patriarci Nedved Juventus

After years of practicing prudence in the transfer market, Juve enacted the €32m buy-out clause in Miralem Pjanic’s buy-out clause at Roma before doing the very same thing to prise Gonzalo Higuain away from Napoli. This time, the fee was an eye-watering €90m, the fourth-highest transfer fee in history.

It has already proven a price worth paying.

“The Cardiff final was born last summer,” Marotta argues. “It was a transfer market campaign designed specifically for this objective.

“Andrea, Pavel, Fabio and myself, together with the coach, we had decided to raise the bar. We said to ourselves, ‘In Italy, we understood the right recipe for success; now let’s see if we can now also go all the way in Europe.'”

On Saturday, they will get their answer. Juve have already proven themselves the best team in Europe off the field – all that remains is to do likewise on it.

Pjanic out to expose Real Madrid weaknesses

The Bosnia-Herzegovina international believes Juventus can hurt the Champions League holders when they face one another on Saturday

Miralem Pjanic is optimistic about Juventus’ chances in Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid as he feels the holders have their weaknesses.

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Massimiliano Allegri’s men last made it to the Champions League final in 2015, when Barcelona proved to be too strong, but Pjanic is hopeful they can emerge victorious against another LaLiga giant.

“They have their weaknesses, just like any team. We will try to hurt them and we are good enough to do it,” the midfielder told the official UEFA website.

“When you get to a final, it is always a big battle against strong opposition. They are having a great season and they are the holders.

“They won it last year, so we are facing a great team that is used to playing these games, these competitions and these finals.

“We are expecting a difficult contest all over the pitch in every position. We will prepare ourselves as well as possible, but it will be the best team on the day that wins.

“We need to be calm and stay in the game. We have got the quality and so do they, so it will be a fiercely contested match.

“It will be decided by small details. We will concentrate on ourselves and we want to bring the trophy home.”

‘Allegri knows when to crack the whip’ – Pjanic hails ruthless Juventus

The Bosnian playmaker has been impressed by the Bianconeri coach’s man-management skills

Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic has hailed the influence of head coach Massimiliano Allegri during his first season at the club.

Allegri has enjoyed superb success in Turin since taking over from Antonio Conte in July 2014 and looks set to continue that record this season.

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Juve won the Coppa Italia final against Lazio this week and will claim a sixth consecutive Serie A title if they defeat Crotone on Sunday, while they have a second Champions League final in three seasons to come next month.

Pjanic has impressed since completing an acrimonious transfer from Roma last year, making 44 appearances in all competitions, and he has credited Allegri for knowing “when to crack the whip” to get the best from his players.

“It took me a bit of time to adapt when I first joined Juventus but coach Allegri has helped me a lot to settle in,” he said, as quoted by Juve’s official website.

“He knows when to crack the whip and when to put his arm round you and calm everything down and it’s for that reason that he has a brilliant relationship with his players.

Miralem Pjanic Juventus Chievo

“Everything needs to be perfect to enjoy a season like this and credit for that has to go to the coaches, physios, background staff, everyone.

“You could say that we didn’t catch the eye at the start of the season but we did grind out results nonetheless. We took that confidence and slowly we began to improve in all aspects of our play and you can see the results now.”

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With a first treble within Juve’s grasp, Pjanic has talked up the “ruthless” qualities of his team-mates in what could prove to be a momentous final two weeks of the season.

“It was a great feeling to lift the trophy on Wednesday because it took an exciting journey to get there,” he said. “When I arrived in Turin, I was asked to bring us home the Coppa Italia and a sixth consecutive Scudetto title.

“The club has put together an amazing mix of players who have won everything in their careers and those on the way up with a burning desire to be successful.

“The hunger and the tenacity that we have is remarkable. This team is ruthless, a real winning machine.

“This is just a unique and delicate period of the campaign. The whole squad is raring to go on Sunday. We have huge respect for Crotone who are on a great run of form and will be fighting for every single ball.

“I have no doubt that you will see a great Juve performance out there; we’re fully focused on doing what needs to be done and sealing the title in front of our own supporters.”

Fantasy Football: Juventus and Real Madrid stars make Champions League Team of the Week

Our fantasy football writer looks at the first round of the Champions League semi-finals and highlights Juventus and Real Madrid players

The first round of the Champions League semi-finals was about as lopsided a pair of matches you may ever see.

Juventus and Real Madrid both notched massive wins and are now heavy favourites to face each other in the final in Cardiff. As for individuals, defenders in particular stood out this week with five of them finishing in our team of the week.

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GK: Gianluigi Buffon – Juventus – 1 Game, 6 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

There were reports earlier this week that Buffon said he would retire if he kept a clean sheet over both legs against Barcelona. That would truly be a shame as, was evidenced against Monaco, he is still one of the best in the world.

DF: Dani Alves – Juventus – 1 Game, 2 Assists, 1 Clean Sheet =13 Points

Dani Alves Radamel Falcao Monaco Juve 03052017

The former Barcelona man put on an incredible performance at both ends of the pitch on Wednesday. Not only did he ensure that Juventus continued their streak of 9+ hours without conceding a Champions League game, but also provided two stunning assists that could well see them through to the final.

DF: Alex Sandro – Juventus – 1 Game, 1 Clean Sheet = 7 Points

DF: Marcelo – Real Madrid – 1 Game, 1 Clean Sheet = 7 Points

DF: Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid – 1 Game, 1 Clean Sheet = 7 Points

The Real Madrid captain isn’t able to play in La Liga at the moment due to his red card in the Clasico, but sure played well on Tuesday. He led Los Blancos to just their second clean sheets in the last ten matches and, with their three goals scored, are surely confident of making their way to the Champions League final. 

DF: Daniel Carvajal – Real Madrid – 1 Game, 1 Clean Sheet = 7 Points

MF: Casemiro – Real Madrid – 1 Game, 1 Assist = 5 Points

MF: Lucas Vazquez – Real Madrid – 1 Substitute Appearance – 1 Assist = 4 Points

Marcelo Lucas Vazquez Isco Alarcon Deportivo Coruna Real Madrid LaLiga 26042017

MF: Miralem Pjanic – Juventus – 1 Game = 2 Points 

FW: Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid – 1 Game, 3 Goals = 17 Points

Ronaldo is clearly the best fantasy option in the Champions League having now scored eight goals in the last three matches. It may have shocked some that the Portuguese star managed a hat trick against one of the best defences in Europe but, as we discussed in our preview, he’d already done it against Atleti this season!

FW: Gonzalo Higuain – Juventus – 1 Game – 2 Goals = 12 Points

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