De Ligt feeling 'in a much better place mentally' after slow start to Juventus career

By Sports Desk July 02, 2020

Matthijs de Ligt says he is "feeling much better physically and mentally" after recovering from a slow start to his Juventus career.

The Netherlands international rejected interest from elsewhere to join Juventus in a €75million transfer from Ajax last July and has made 32 appearances for the Serie A giants.

He has come in for heavy criticism at times in his debut campaign in Turin but has started all five of Juve's matches since last month's restart, helping to keep four clean sheets.

"I feel much better physically now and mentally I am in a much, much better place," he told Sky Sport Italia ahead of Saturday's Derby della Mole with Torino.

"In Serie A there are many different strikers. There's [Romelu] Lukaku, for example, who's very strong and quick but also [Ciro] Immobile, who's very good with his back to goal.

"Every team have great forwards, different from one another, and every match is very difficult. The bar is very high.

"I try to study them thoroughly before each game in order to be prepared for any outcome."

De Ligt scored the only goal of the game when Juve last met rivals Torino eight months ago and believes that match-winning strike was a turning point in his Bianconeri career.

"It's a special game - both teams want to win for the city and their fans," he said. "We must do our best, above all in defence, and not give away any chances.

"Obviously the first derby is a beautiful memory for me because I scored my first goal for the Bianconeri. It also gave us a very important victory.

"It wasn't an easy time for me, I received a lot of criticism and I was under pressure. That goal raised my spirits and made me and my team-mates happy.

"Thanks to that goal, I became the footballer I am today."

Juve hold a four-point lead over Lazio with nine games of the resumed campaign to play, while Inter are a further four points behind.

However, De Ligt is refusing to take anything for granted and insists his side cannot afford to take their eye off the ball in pursuit of a ninth successive Scudetto.

"Lazio and Inter are both still in the running," he said. "Inter are a great team and are not far behind.

"We have to be very careful with these teams, there are still nine games to play and each one will be a final from here until week 38. We must not slow down now."

Related items

  • Ronaldo doesn't receive special treatment at Juventus, says Pirlo Ronaldo doesn't receive special treatment at Juventus, says Pirlo

    Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo insisted Cristiano Ronaldo does not receive any special treatment at the Serie A giants.

    Ronaldo has made a fine start to the season for Juve, scoring eight goals in his first six games.

    His brace guided Juve past Cagliari 2-0 on Saturday, and Ronaldo has scored 29 of Juve's 59 Serie A goals in 2020.

    Ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash against Ferencvaros, Pirlo discussed Ronaldo – and said the five-time Ballon d'Or winner was treated like any other player.

    "I haven't challenged [Ronaldo] on set-pieces yet. I treat him like I treat all the other players. I'm always available on and off the pitch," he told a news conference.

    "It's easy to have a good relationship between humble people. I'm like that.

    "I behave with him – a champion – like I do with [Gianluca] Frabotta or [Manolo] Portanova, who are two young players.

    "I do the same things I was used to doing when I was a player."

    All eight of Ronaldo's Serie A goals this season have come from inside the box, while he has converted 75 per cent of his big chances.

    Ahead of hosting Ferencvaros, Juventus are second in Group G, three points adrift of Barcelona.

  • Borussia Dortmund midfielder Reinier tests positive for coronavirus Borussia Dortmund midfielder Reinier tests positive for coronavirus

    Borussia Dortmund midfielder Reinier has tested positive for coronavirus, the German club have announced.

    The 18-year-old, who joined Dortmund on a two-year loan deal from Real Madrid in August, underwent PCR tests for COVID-19 upon his return from international duty with Brazil Under-23s last week.

    Reinier was not part of Dortmund's squad for their Bundesliga win over Hertha Berlin at the weekend and no other BVB players have tested positive.

    Dortmund confirmed the news on Monday, a day before their Champions League match with Club Brugge, and added that the teenager is asymptomatic and is now self-isolating.

    He has been used seven times by Lucien Favre, each of those appearances coming from the bench.

    Reinier, who won the Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores with Flamengo in 2019, has yet to score, assist or create a chance in his three Bundesliga outings and has managed just one shot.

    Tuesday's meeting with Brugge is the first of three home games in a row for Dortmund, with Koln and Lazio to come in the next nine days.

  • Neymar and Mbappe need to step up against Leipzig - Tuchel Neymar and Mbappe need to step up against Leipzig - Tuchel

    Thomas Tuchel says Paris Saint-Germain need Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to be on top of their game if they are to beat RB Leipzig in Tuesday's huge Champions League clash.

    Last season's finalists trail Group H pacesetters Manchester United and Leipzig by three points at the midway stage after losing to both teams in their opening three matches, either side of beating Istanbul Basaksehir.

    PSG will be facing the prospect of making an early exit from the competition if they lose at home to the Bundesliga club and under-fire head coach Tuchel is willing to risk the fitness of Neymar for a match he has described as a "final".

    Neymar missed three PSG games with a groin injury and was released from Brazil duty before being given 30 minutes from the bench in Friday's 3-2 loss to Monaco - a result that increased the pressure on Tuchel.

    The forward, who has two goals in seven appearances this term, will start against Leipzig at the Parc des Princes in a repeat of last season's semi-final.

    "We need him. He needs to be on the pitch for us," Tuchel said at a news conference on Monday. "He has the quality and the experience.

    "He is not in the best shape physically but he will start tomorrow. He can manage that both physically and mentally, though I hope we don't depend on him."

    Mbappe scored PSG's two goals in their defeat to Monaco but is without a Champions League goal in 2020, failing to score in 529 minutes across seven appearances in the competition since netting against Galatasaray last December.

    "If Neymar or Kylian don't score, of course it has an impact for us," Tuchel said. "I hope they score tomorrow. We need Kylian's goals. He is doing everything possible to be decisive.

    "He played with the France team. Against Monaco, he scored two goals. Now is the time for him, as well as for Ney, to be decisive again."

    Tuchel started with Neymar, Mbappe, Angel Di Maria and Moise Kean for the win over Basaksehir and has hinted he may go with a similar attack-minded system against Leipzig.

    "It is of course a possibility," he said. "We want to win - it's a final in the group. I absolutely want us to have more courage to score than fear to have problems defensively. 

    "It will take courage to score, so it's a possibility. We must find two players in the middle capable of making the effort if we play with a 4-4-2. 

    "But it is also possible that we play in 4-3-3. We used it in Leipzig as well as in the knockout stages last season. There are two possibilities, we will wait to see who is available."

    However, Tuchel will have to make do without Mauro Icardi, Julian Draxler, Idrissa Gueye, Juan Bernat and Thilo Kehrer, while Ander Herrera and Marco Verratti will be assessed later on Monday.

    PSG have lost four of their last six games against German opponents in the Champions League, including each of the last two - 1-0 v Bayern Munich and 2-1 v Leipzig.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.