Two Reasons Why Napoli Needs to Beat Juve

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Today, two Italian football giants will face off with each other at the Stadio San Paolo, which is Naples. However, if there’s any club that needs to win this more, it’s definitely Napoli. So, here are two reasons why they desperately need to win this game.

1. To Move Up in the Serie A Table

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Something that is obvious that Napoli needs to do is move up in the Serie A table. What better way to do that than beat your rivals, Juve, at your home stadium? They need the points and beating Juve could possibly move them up in the Serie A table. If they do win this match they could possibly overtake Fiorentina, who is above them in 12th. It’s definitely obvious for many Serie A and Napoli fans that the Azzuri (one of Napoli’s nicknames), is way below what they’re supposed to be this season. Of course, as I just said above moving up in the standings is a reason why they need to beat Juve.

2. To Boost the Morale of the Squad

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One thing that seems to be a problem with this Napoli squad is their morale. They’ve gotten a result here and there, however, based on the talent of the squad their morale seems low based on results this season. A win against Juve may only be a one-off. However, a win in this match could also significantly boost their morale and may kickstart a turning point to their season. Beating the reigning Serie A champions could change their season for the better and in the end, they could qualify for European competition for next season. It’ll be interesting to see if Napoli can get a result in this massive game.

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Previewing Roma Vs Juventus

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There have been some massive matches this season in Serie A so far, such as last week’s game between Napoli and Inter. However, not many matches get bigger than the one that’ll be played today at the Stadio Olimpico between Roma and Juventus at 2:45 pm Eastern Time. So, here’s my preview of this match for both clubs.

ROMA

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Paulo Fonseca has led Roma to heights that a lot of people have been surprised about. Coming into this match, they are in decent form, by winning their last 3 matches, losing a match, and drawing one. They do have a few injuries coming into this match, however, that shouldn’t faze them, based on their recent form. They will have a massive test against Juventus, who are currently competing with Inter for the scudetto. It’s possible, though, that being at the San Siro against this other Italian giant may inspire them to victory. However, a victory for them in this match for Roma would depend on how well they can contain Juve’s attack. That will be a monumental task for them, but maybe, Paulo Fonseca has something up his sleeve.

JUVENTUS

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So far this season, Juve has had a huge challenge trying to win Serie A’s biggest prize, once again. Inter has been challenging them for the title throughout the season and this match against Roma just adds to the tough season. However, coming into this match Juve should be motivated to win, as this will probably be one of Juve’s toughest matches over the whole season. Juve will have to be on their game if they want to get a result in the Eternal City. The key to the game for Juventus is being clinical and converting their chances. There’s a good chance they will get a lot of chances in this match, so being clinical would give them the edge. This will prove to be a big test for this Juve squad.

MATCH PREDICTION

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This match should be a very close one. I don’t see either club blowing out the other. As much as Roma is in decent form and are really coming into their own under Paulo Fonseca, I see Juve winning this match 2-1. Just because upfront, they’re on a roll and I don’t see how Roma can contain their frontline.

How Serie A Clubs Will Do in the Champions League Knockout Round

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Something remarkable has happened in the Champions League this season! That something, is the fact that there will be three Serie A clubs in the round of 16 this season in the Champions League. For Serie A fans, it’ll be more fun than usual to watch. So, here’s how far I think the Serie A clubs will do in the round of 16.

ATALANTA

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Earlier this week, Atalanta qualified for the Champions League in a triumphant fashion against Shakhtar Donetsk. It was absolutely amazing, to say the least! There were videos of Atalanta fans as well as players and staff celebrating this remarkable accomplishment. Now, they will be in the round of 16 for the first time in their history. They are coming in hot, as well. Based on the way they’re playing right now, many clubs should be scared to face them. However, I don’t think they’ll make it past the round of 16. I understand that they’re in pretty good form right now, however, I feel that their lack of experience in this type of situation is why they won’t advance past the round of 16. Sorry, La Dea fans!

NAPOLI

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There’s been a lot of drama surrounding Napoli lately. The players reportedly rebelled against Aurelio De Laurentiis and Carlo Ancelotti got sacked this week as well. So, it’s been an interesting few weeks for Napoli. However, fans will be happy that they went undefeated in the Champions League Group Stage and are now in the round of 16. Yes, Gattuso isn’t experienced as a manager at all with a club in the Champions League. However, based on how they’ve performed in the Champions League this season, no top club will want to face them. They’ll be a tough squad to beat, especially this season. That’s why I think they’ll make it through to the quarterfinals this time.

JUVENTUS

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If you didn’t know too much about Juventus and you based your knowledge off of what Bianconeri fans and pundits say, you’d think Juventus are doing terrible and they’re in a crisis. However, that’s not the case at all. Yes, they currently sit in second in Serie A and still have deficiencies in their Midfield, but, they went undefeated in the Champions League Group Stage. They also came in first in their group. Which, leads me to believe they’ll make it far in this competition. In my opinion, there’s no reason why Juve shouldn’t at least make the semifinals. I actually predict they’ll make the Champions League finals this season. Despite, their deficiencies in the midfield, I think they’ll continue to improve over the season under Sarri and should find themselves in Istanbul on May 30, 2020.

Here’s a video of Atalanta Fans Celebrating after they qualified to the round of 16! Video Credit: YouTube-Light Yagami

3 Reasons Why Juventus Has Been Quietly Successful Under Sarri So Far

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Many fans of the bianconeri have been complaining that so far, the style of play Juve has implemented under Sarri hasn’t looked different than that of Allegri’s. However, despite that, Juve is undefeated in all competitions. They’ve also sealed first in their Champions League group. But, Juve has not been as heavily talked about this season compared to the last, at least from what I’ve heard and witnessed. In the summer of 2018, Juve signed CR7. Within the season that proceeded, it seemed as if all eyes were on Juve to finally triumph and win the Champions League. But, it didn’t end up happening and Massimiliano Allegri got sacked the following summer. This season, Sarri has guided Juve to massive wins and they’re doing it very quietly, which makes them scary to face. So, here are 3 reasons why I think Sarri has led them to being undefeated , thus far.

Reason #1: Sarri Has Revitalized Dybala’s Career

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Last season, Dybala did not start as much many would’ve wanted him too, as Allegri decided to play a 4-3-3 formation, which led him to be an outcast. Even during this past summer, there were rumors that Dybala would be sold to numerous clubs. Among the clubs rumoured to be interested in Paulo Dybala were Tottenham and ManU. However, Dybala stayed put in Turin and already has 4 goals and 1 assist in 11 Serie A appearances. Last season, he got 5 goals and 4 assists in 30 total appearances in Serie A. This demonstrates that Sarri has gotten the best out of Dybala. Sarri has been consistently deploying a 4-3-1-2 formation for Juve this season, which suits Dybala’s style of play. Dybala has been playing as one of the two strikers up top. The reason this formation is the most beneficial for him is because he’s a very technical player, whose also a great play maker. As a result, putting him as one of the two players up front as a support striker allows him to playmake freely, as he’s used to doing. Also, he’s a very good goalscorer, so putting him up front takes the load off of Gonzalo Higuain, who is typically the other player up top with him.

Reason#2: Maurizio Sarri Has Allowed Juve To Have More Creativity in their Midfield

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Yes, Juve’s midfield is still missing another creative spark. That’s just my opinion. However, Sarri has allowed Juve’s midfield to become more creative in the opponent’s half. He hasn’t really deployed his famous “sarriball” at Juventus yet, as the midfield overall, doesn’t fit this type of system. However, from what I’ve noticed, they’ve looked more fluid. Maybe, it’s because Dybala has been starting more or for other reasons. But, for me the big reason Sarri has allowed Juve’s offense to look more fluid this season is because of the formation change. From reading this article, you probably think my favourite formation for any club coach to deploy is the 4-3-1-2, however that’s not always the case. It’s just that in this instance, having that central-attacking midfielder or better known in Fifa as CAM, has provided a link between Juve’s central midfielders and attackers. As a result, the service the attackers have received has improved from last season. My opinion is that if a club has a midfield who doesn’t have enough flair to provide adequate service to the players upfront, a CAM is needed so that there’s that extra creativity, if necessary. It seems to have been working under Sarri so far, let’s see if it continues.

Reason#3: Maurizio Sarri Has Made Them Less Dependent on Cristiano Ronaldo to Score

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I’m sure this is a very unpopular opinion and I may get some flack for it, however, I think that a big reason why Sarri has been successful with Juve thus far, is that he’s limited the over-reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo to provide offense. I don’t believe that Sarri has tried to undermine Cristiano Ronaldo, I think he’s attempted to coordinate the offense so that there’s less responsibility on CR7 to generate the majority of it himself. Unfortunately, last season under Allegri, Dybala under-performed, Higuain was on loan, Douglas Costa was often injured, and Mandzukic also underperformed. As a result, Ronaldo had to carry the majority of the offensive load for Juve. Yes, at Real Madrid, CR7 had to carry their offense load as well, during his last couple of seasons with the club, however, at least he had adequate service from the midfield to do that. Last season at Juve, the service to the players upfront wasn’t great. Unfortunately, that forced Cristiano Ronaldo to have to be more of a playmaker than he normally would be. In his prime, CR7 was a very technical and creative player. However, he’s a bit past his prime and doesn’t have the speed he once had. Therefore, when they centred the offense around him and didn’t get the best out of the other players upfront, it wasn’t beneficial for the club at all. Sarri has implemented a system to ensure that there’s less pressure on one particular player to generate offense in the opponent’s half. It has definitely yielded better results this season than the last one, so far. This is especially true in the Champions League for Juve.

Previewing the Turin Derby

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Derbies in Italy are amazing. However, this one should be extra good. Torino will face Juve in the famous Turin derby this Saturday at 3:45 pm Eastern Time. It should be exciting! So, here’s my preview of this match for both clubs!

JUVENTUS

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So far, despite having to adjust to a new system and different style of play Under Sarri, Juve still remains the club to beat. As of now, they’re in a tight scudetto race with Inter. But, heading into the Derby Della Mole, Juve look good. They may not be winning by multiple goals consistently, but they’re getting the job done and that’s what is the most important thing. The one issue Juve has right now is injuries. Douglas Costa is still injured, also, Chiellini being out definitely makes their backline look a bit more vulnerable than it should be. They’ll have to watch their defensive line, as Torino’s Belotti is in decent form and can be very tough to stop.

TORINO

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So far this season, Torino hasn’t looked close to the way they did last season. Last season, they conceded the least amount of goals in Serie A. However, their defense does not look remotely close to how it did last season. Yes, they have a lot of the same players leading that backline, but there seems to be something missing. However, I can’t seem to point to the main issue with them. As of right now, they are 13th in Serie A. It’ll be a huge challenge for them to beat Juve, despite the fact that they’re at their home stadium. We’ll see if they can rise to the occasion.

How I Became a Juve Fan

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I’ve made it no secret on my blog website, that I’m a bianconero. Indeed, I’ve been a Juventus fan since 2006. It has come with many moments of heartbreak and joy, however, I wouldn’t change it for anything. So, here’s why I became a Juventus fan as well as when I started liking calcio.

THE ORIGINS OF MY SERIE A FANDOM

Basically, ever since I was born, I’ve been a Serie A fan. Growing up, I was born into a family that really liked the Toronto Maple Leafs and of course, calcio. However, it wasn’t until 2006 that I started to become a Juve fan. I remember that when I was growing up, I would wake up early to watch the first Serie A matches of the day on Saturdays and Sundays. This even happens now. I remember, I’d try to watch as many matches as possible. For me, it was something I fell in love with early on. Occasionally, I would watch an English Premier League match, however, it never compared to watching the Serie A, in my opinion. Indeed, I’ve watched Serie A when the likes of Maldini, Del Piero, Totti, Inzaghi, and Figo were in the league to now when Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Insigne are playing in Italy. It’s been a lifelong passion for me and I will keep it that way.

HOW I BECAME A JUVE FAN

Growing up, members of my family were usually either Lazio or Napoli fans. That has to do with the fact that on my mom’s side my nonni (grandparents) came from the province of Frosinone, which is in the province of Lazio. Also, on my dad’s side, my Nonna (grandmother), came from a small town in the region of Campania. My Nonno (grandfather) on my dad’s side, came from a small town in the province of Cosenza in the region of Calabria. So, it’s understandable why many of my relatives root for Napoli and Lazio.

Until a certain moment in 2006, I didn’t have a specific club I was rooting for. However, in February of 2006, I remember watching a huge match between Juve and Inter, which was big for both clubs, as, at that time it would possibly decide the Scudetto winner that season. It was tied 1-1 and my favourite player of all-time, Del Piero, was taking a freekick that was pretty late in the game. Of course, he scored it with ease and Juve ended winning that game 2-1. However, that very moment is when I became a Juve fan.

For the record, I’ve always admired Del Piero as a kid, even before I became a Juve fan. He’s my favourite football player of all-time. But, for some reason that one moment of his is when I became a Juve fan. Ever since then, I’ve become a huge bianconero. However, there is one thing I’d like to see Juve do one day and that’s winning the Champions League. As much as I’ve witnessed some incredible moments as a Juve fan, that would be beyond incredible. I hope it happens in the near future.

3 Takeaways From Last Weekend’s Serie A Action

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Like usual, this past weekend of Serie A matches were amazing! As a result of the matches this past weekend, there were two managers fired, as well. This made this past weekend’s fixtures seem even more fascinating. So, here are 3 of my takeaways from last weekend’s Serie A matches!

 

1. JUVE SHOWED WHY THEY’VE KEEP WINNING THE SERIE A TITLE WHEN THEY FACED INTER.

 

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This past weekend, Juve were victors in the Derby D’Italia, beating Inter 2-1. However, this match demonstrated why they’ve won the scudetto 8 consecutive times. Not only did they get the job done, but they dominated such a big match in the Serie A. I’ve had my doubts about Maurizio Sarri ever since he got appointed to be the manager of the bianconeri. However, it seems as though the squad is beginning to learn how to fit within his system. In my view, Juve’s defence still needs work. However, Bonucci looks as though he is becoming comfortable with leading that backline. Despite, Juve’s key injuries, they don’t look like they’re missing a beat, whatsoever.

2. SAMPDORIA NEED TO GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER QUICKLY

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Last season, Sampdoria seemed like they had so much upside under Giampaolo. Then, he left and they appointed Eusebio Di Francesco. I must admit that before the season started, I had written a blog post that mentioned Sampdoria as being underrated with Di Francesco as their manager. However, I was completely wrong and instead, he was a bust at Sampdoria. After, only leading Sampdoria to one win in his seven matches on the touchline, it was inevitable that he’d be sacked and he was. Now, Sampdoria will need to get back to how they played last season if they want to finish in a mid-table spot by the end of the season. They will need to fix their issues fast, as they are currently on track to be relegated to Serie B by the end of this season.

3. AC MILAN WON AGAINST GENOA, BUT GIAMPAOLO IS NO LONGER THEIR MANAGER

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AC Milan has now gone through 8 different managers in 5 years as a result of this sacking. The weird part is that AC Milan’s upper-management decided to sack Giampaolo after they won against Genoa last Saturday. However, it is not surprising, as AC Milan’s upper-management seems to not have had patience with their managers over the past several seasons. I understand that under Giampaolo, AC Milan were performing way below par, but they should’ve given him more time to implement his philosophy with the squad. However, the club’s board has clearly not possessed patience for a while, in regards to the managers they’ve hired. As a result, they are a mess and all I will say to AC Milan’s new manager is good luck because whoever it is, will need a ton of it.

 

 

3 Reasons Why Mario Balotelli Won’t Prevent Brescia From Getting Relegated

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During the summer, I published a blog post arguing three reasons why Mario Balotelli will prevent Brescia from getting relegated. This blog post will argue three reasons why he won’t prevent Brescia from getting relegated. Then, I will  state my own conclusion to the argument at the end. So, here it goes.

1. MARIO BALOTELLI WILL RUIN THE SQUAD’S CHEMISTRY

       I understand that adding a striker such as Balotelli may add to an already stacked Brescia frontline. However, he could also hurt it badly. Alfredo Donarumma was Serie B’s leading scorer last season with 25 goals. But, there’s a chance Balotelli may ruin the chemistry that he has with his other teammates. The reason for is simple. When a club adds another striker to the starting 11, the number 9 that was there originally, may not be able to adapt to getting passed to less, therefore causing chemistry problems. When Balotelli gets inserted in the starting lineup, there’s a chance that Alfredo Donarumma won’t be able to adapt to possessing the ball less and as a result, that may cause Brescia to be relegated in the end.

2. MARIO BALOTELLI MAY RUIN BRESCIA’S BID TO STAY IN THE SERIE A WITH HIS UNPREDICTABLE OFF THE PITCH ANTICS.

I’ve always admired Mario Balotelli as a player, as I believe he possesses some great talent. However, his off the field antics have hurt him and the clubs he’s played for before. I understand that it seems as though he’s changed and been better off the field. But, there is still a chance that he does something outside of calcio that becomes a distraction for the club and could possibly ruin the club’s harmony. Therefore, leading to Brescia being relegated. However, for Brescia and Balotelli’s sake, I hope this doesn’t happen.

      3. MARIO BALOTELLI MAY NOT PERFORM HOW HE’S SUPPOSED TO. 

Generally, when Mario Balotelli was on the field, he has had the tendency to perform. However, there’s a chance, even if it’s small, that Mario Balotelli will not perform how he’s expected to at Brescia. If Balotelli does infact not score as much as supposed to, it’ll be a huge negative for Brescia. Below-par performances for Balotelli would put too much pressure on Brescia to score goals throughout the season, which may lead to their relegation.

I’ve argued reasons for why I think Balotelli will and won’t help Brescia get relegated next season. However, based on all this, I’ve formed my own conclusion on the matter. Unfortunately, I predict that despite Brescia’s signing of Balotelli, they’ll get relegated. However, I also believe that even if Balotelli has a great season, he won’t prevent it. The reason is because Brescia has a very deadly attack. But, in my opinion, there are still question marks surrounding how good their defense is. However, this opinion could very well change over the course of the season.

Analysis of Saturday’s Serie A Matches

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                                      Image Credit: sportinglife.com

On Saturday, there were three very interesting Serie A matches that took place. The first match was Udinese vs. Brescia, then Juventus vs. Hellas Verona. After that the Milan Derby took place to wrap up a thrilling Saturday. So, here is my analysis of each of the Saturday Serie A matches!

UDINESE VS. BRESCIA

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For Udinese, this was a match in which they needed to win at home. As much as Brescia can be a tough club to beat, you need to win these matches, as when you are in a stretch during the season where you’re facing tougher clubs, matches like these will matter. Romulo was the player of the match for me and I thought that he played well. Also, it seemed as if Brescia could’ve scored more, as they had some decent chances that they should’ve capitalized on. All in all, I believe Brescia deserved those three points and this will definitely help them in their bid to avoid relegation to Serie B.

              JUVENTUS VS. HELLAS VERONA

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                                          Image Credit: sportinglife.com

In this match, Sarri changed around his starting  11 a little bit. He started Dybala as the number 9, he started Aaron Ramsey over Sami Khedira, he also started Buffon over Sczesny in goal. I only watched the second half of this match, however, Juve looked like they were struggling mightily in this match. Yes, they won, but it was a sloppy win at home and they did not look like a Sarri-type of club yesterday. What I mean by that is they still lack the fluidity going forward, especially in their midfield. I understand that you cannot start Ramsey, Pjanic, and Rabiot as your midfield three, as that would lack balance, but if Juve wants to win all the trophies they are expected to win this season, Sarri needs to start two of either Rabiot, Ramsey, or Pjanic in every match in order to continue winning.

      AC MILAN VS. INTER MILAN 

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                                         Image Credit: foxsportsaasia.com

During this match, I had the pleasure of watching it with members of the Milan Club or Toronto as well as the TLN Television team. During the first half, I thought that it was a  pretty even match and both clubs had their chances. However, in the second half, Inter absolutely dominated, in my opinion. One thing I don’t understand is why AC Milan didn’t start Bonaventura or Lucas Paqueta over Lucas Biglia.  That midfield 3 of Calhanoglu, Biglia, and Kessie was bound to fail for the simple reason that none of those three can create chances or provide offensive output the same way Paqueta or Bonaventura can. As for Inter, it was obvious they would dominate in that midfield and they did. Inter’s midfield definitely looked really deadly and opposing clubs should really look at game tapes of this match to see how you don’t deal with them.

Predicting How Well Italian Clubs Will Do in the Champions League This Season

For those who don’t know, this should turn out to be an exciting season for Serie A clubs in the Champions League!  It will make for an exciting season for calcio fans and hopefully, we’ll see all four Serie A clubs in the semifinals of the Champions League. However, based on my predictions for each of them, that’s unlikely. So, here is how I think the Serie A clubs will do in the Champions League this season!

   1. INTER MILAN 

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Inter will be playing their first Champions League match this season against Slavia Prague today at 12:55 pm Eastern Time. When Inter fans and members of the club envisioned who would be in their group, no one anticipated that they’d be in the group of death. Indeed, Lionel Messi will return to the San Siro for the second consecutive year to face Inter. Inter is also joined by Borussia Dortmund and Slavia Prague in this group, making it very tough to get through to the round of 16. In all honesty, I predict that Inter will finish third in the group, as they will be with two clubs in Dortmund and Barcelona that are juggernauts in Europe and it may be too much for this Inter side. However, they could definitely surprise many people.

2. NAPOLI

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While, Napoli were in a favorable position before the draw began, I don’t think they could’ve anticipated an easier group on paper than they’ve gotten. Make no mistake, no Champions League match is simple, but the group Napoli got dealt is one of the most simple they could’ve gotten. Yes, they’re with the 2019 Champions League winners, Liverpool. But, other than that, they’re with Genk and Red Bull Salzburg. Considering, Napoli’s group as well as the fact that they made some key signings over the summer in Hirving Lozano, Kostas Manolas, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t get in second place in the group and get through to the knockout phase of the competition. Their first match will be later today against Liverpool at 3 pm Eastern Time.

3. JUVENTUS

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Juventus shocked their fans with some of the moves they made in the summer. Many fans were left scratching their heads with some of those moves or lack of moves that weren’t made. However, that’s all behind us and the season has started. They’ve been drawn in a decent group with Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, and Lokomotiv Moscow. I predict that Juve should get through to the round of 16 in second in this group. However, the sky is the limit for this club if they play at their best. Not even the beasts at Atletico Madrid can stop them. Their first Champions League match will take place at 3 pm Eastern Time on Wednesday!

4. ATALANTA 

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Atalanta will make their first ever Champions League appearance on Wednesday at 3 pm Eastern time against Dinamo Zagreb. They got drawn into a group with Manchester City, Shakhtar donetsk, and Dinamo Zagreb. Based on their position heading into the draw, it was inevitable that they’d be drawn into a tough group. This will be a very tough group for Atalanta, but the good thing is they don’t have high expectations heading into this competition, so it might actually work in their favor. I predict that they’ll finish in second in their group behind Man City. I hope they demonstrate their quality in this group, as I feel their an underrated club coming into competition. They could very well make some noise this season.

I’ve predicted three out of the four Serie A clubs in the Champions League this season to qualify for the champions League round of 16. But, hopefully it’s all four clubs!