Call me 'Allegriano' - Pirlo delight after shutting down Inter

By Sports Desk February 09, 2021

Andrea Pirlo was happy to go back to the future to seal a place in the Coppa Italia final for Juventus at Inter's expense.

Juventus played out a 0-0 draw in Tuesday's semi-final second leg, meaning Cristiano Ronaldo's double in the 2-1 win at San Siro last week proved decisive.

Pirlo has tried to bring in an expansive passing style at Juve this season with mixed results, but the sight of black and white shirts soaking up pressure with ease in front of Gianluigi Buffon evoked memories of the years under former bosses Massimiliano Allegri and Antonio Conte - the latter now cutting  a frustrated figure in the Inter dugout.

"It's very nice," Juve head coach Pirlo told Rai Sports of the comparison.
"If I have to win what he won, you can also call me 'Allegriano'.

"We were very good, they almost never shot on goal."

Pirlo hailed Samir Handanovic as the best player on the field and the Inter goalkeeper made a couple of stunning second-half saves to thwart Ronaldo.

A final awaits against Atalanta or Napoli, who Juve beat in the Supercoppa Italiana to claim the first piece of silverware of Pirlo's embryonic coaching career.

"It was in my plans to win the Supercoppa and get to the Coppa final, but there is work to be done," he added.

"As a coach it is completely different. We are satisfied so far but we have not done anything yet."

Juve have reached the Coppa Italia final in six of the last seven seasons, failing to do so only in 2018-19.

Pirlo's Juve are unbeaten in 11 of their 12 games since the start of 2021 in all competitions, having won 10 of those matches (D1). 

Meanwhile, Juventus are unbeaten in nine of their last 10 matches against Inter in all competitions, winning six games (D3). 

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    Reigning world champions South Africa beat Wales 32-29 last weekend in Pretoria with the final kick of the ball in a thrilling start to the three-Test series.

    The sides reconvene in Bloemfontein on Saturday in a game Wales, who have now lost three in a row against their opponents, must win to keep their hopes of a series triumph alive.

    The hosts surprisingly named 14 changes to their side for this weekend's showdown when announcing their squad on Tuesday, with experienced lock Eben Etzebeth – in line for his 99th cap – the only player to retain his place in the XV.

    Among the fresh faces in the Springboks' side are uncapped pair Kurt-Lee Arendse and Evan Roos, while four others – Ntuthuko Mchunu, Ruan Nortje, Deon Fourie and Grant Williams – could make their debuts from the bench.

    Welsh rugby great Gareth Edwards accused South Africa of "disrespecting" Wales with their selection, but Pivac was more understanding when asked about the mass changes at his news conference on Thursday.

    "From our point of view, it's a big focus on what we can improve from the last Test match," he said. "We are in a different part of the cycle; really we're at the end of our season, and they're at the start of theirs. 

    "They've got their reasoning why they did it. They've got depth and quality throughout the squad and some experience in this team. So we're certainly not taking them lightly at all.

    "There are players playing there with an opportunity to impress for the third test, so we know they'll come out strongly and represent their country like anyone else in that jersey. So for us, it's around what we can control and that's our performance.

    "It hasn't changed our preparation at all. It is going to be 15 rugby players in green shirts, and we are expecting more of the same."

    Unlike their opponents, Wales have stuck largely with the same group that came agonisingly close to pulling off a big result last weekend, with wing Alex Cuthbert replacing Josh Adams in the only change.

    Adams is among the replacements, as is uncapped prop Sam Wainwright after Tomas Francis returned home following the concussion suffered in the first Test.

    Elsewhere, George North will equal Stephen Jones' record as the most-capped Wales men's international back when making his 104th appearance.

    Pivac's side head into the contest on a run of four successive defeats, each coming by a margin of four points or fewer – not since a six-match losing streak between February and November 2020 have they endured a worse run.

    South Africa: Gelant, Arendse, Kriel, Esterhuizen, Fassi, Pollard (c), Hendrikse; Thomas du Toit, Dweba, Nyakane, Etzebeth, Orie, Coetzee, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Roos.
    Replacements: Marx, Mchunu, Koch, Nortje, Elstadt, Fourie, Williams, Willemse.

    Wales: Williams, Rees-Zammit, North, Tompkins, Cuthbert, Biggar (c), Hardy; Thomas, Elias, Lewis, Rowlands, Beard, Lydiate, Reffell, Faletau.
    Replacements: Lake, Wyn Jones, Wainwright, Alun Wyn Jones, Navidi, Williams, Anscombe, Adams.

     

  • McIlroy dials it in and Schauffele finally converts – The stats that defined June on the PGA Tour McIlroy dials it in and Schauffele finally converts – The stats that defined June on the PGA Tour

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    The English statistician counts both Sam Burns and Billy Horschel among those coming to him for guidance in their golf games. And each registered Tour wins in consecutive weeks last month, as Burns captured the Charles Schwab Challenge before Horschel cruised to victory at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday.

    "Hortsy (Horton) is unbelievable," Horschel said after his win. "He's been on my team since 2014. First year he comes on the team we win the FedExCup. He's very English and he's very blunt, and we had a conversation before he joined my team about my record on the PGA Tour and things I didn't do well.

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    Horschel's game at the Memorial wasn't just good, it was unprecedented. His +13.58 Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green was the most at an event in his PGA Tour career and best since the 2018 Wyndham Championship (+10.74, tied for 11th). It broke his long-time career record of +13.07, set a decade ago at the 2012 Sanderson Farms Championship.

    He was the fourth Memorial winner since 2003 to rank first in both Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green as well as Greens in Regulation (53), joining Patrick Cantlay (2021), Jason Dufner (2017) and Tiger Woods (2012). He also finished the week ranked second in Proximity to the Hole, his third time on Tour ranking in the top-two and more than four feet closer than his previous average in eight previous starts at the Memorial.

    Credit to Horschel for his performance. And in the meantime, Horton will keep crunching the numbers.

    "He just tells me where I need to be on holes, where guys are making bogeys, where the birdies are coming from, the perfect way for me to plot my way around the golf course," Horschel explained. "That's what I love to do. I love to put my ball here, put the ball there. And he backs me up with that data that's he's been giving me for the last eight years."

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    0-4 lifetime. Oh for four. Goose egg.

    That was Schauffele's career record on the PGA Tour when holding a 54-hole lead or co-lead. The now six-time Tour winner was still waiting to successfully convert a third-round position atop the leaderboard into a victory, and the Travelers Championship was one more opportunity to do it.

    "In the past when I had a 54-hole lead or close to the lead, my Sundays felt really fast," he said. "And I'd be sitting back in the hotel or at a house on Sunday [afterward] thinking, 'What happened today?'"

    This time, he said, Schauffele wanted to stay in the present and focus on the task at hand, which was each and every shot. They would all be critical to stave off Cantlay, who trailed him by only a stroke entering the final round, with more players not far behind.

    "I told [my caddie] to hold me accountable on the first hole walking up there," Schauffele said. "And he did a really great job, and both of us were pretty much dialled in from the first hole."

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    That precision helped Schauffele finish with a Strokes Gained: Total of +16.39, the most at an event in his career. His previous best total was +15.31, set in 2020 at The CJ CUP.

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    "Seeing that southerly wind again, I knew I needed to go out and shoot 5-or-6-under par to have a chance to win," he said.

    Simple enough. McIlroy posted an eight-under 62 to edge Tony Finau by two strokes for his 21st PGA Tour victory.

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    McIlroy has feasted in final rounds this year, joining Finau as one of only two players on Tour with four final rounds of six-under or better this year. Prior to his eight-under 62 in Canada, he also posted a pair of six-under 66s at The Players Championship and The CJ CUP to go along with an epic eight-under 64 at The Masters.

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    The tourists will also hand a first start to Tigers scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet as they ring the chances for the must-win encounter against the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday.

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    Australia meanwhile have been forced into a slate of swaps, through Swain's suspension and Tom Banks' injury, with Matt Philip in for the former and Jordan Petaia moved to full-back to cover the latter's absence.

    In a significant boost, prop Taniela Tupou is back, and makes a like-for-like change with the injured Allan Ala'alatoa.

    Australia team: Petaia, Wright, Paisami, Kerevi, Koroibete, Lolesio, White; Bell, Porecki, Tupou, Philip, Neville, Leota, Hooper, Valetini.

    Replacements: Fainga'a, Sio, Slipper, Frost, Samu, Gordon, O'Connor, Perese.

    England team: Steward, Nowell, Porter, Farrell, Freeman, Smith, Van Poortvliet; Genge, George, Stuart, Itoje, Hill, Lawes, Underhill, B Vunipola.

    Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, M Vunipola, Heyes, Chessum, Ludlam, Willis, Care, Arundell.

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