De Ligt facing three months out after Juventus defender undergoes shoulder surgery

By Sports Desk August 12, 2020

Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt is facing three months out after undergoing shoulder surgery.

The Netherlands centre-back has had persistent problems with his right shoulder after suffering a dislocation last year.

Juve confirmed on Wednesday that the 21-year-old had stabilisation surgery in Rome and the operation was "a complete success".

He is not likely to be fully fit to return until November.

There is not yet an official start date for the 2020-21 Serie A season but the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has previously stated it hopes the campaign can begin on September 1.

De Ligt made 39 appearances in all competitions in his first season for Juve since joining from Ajax for an initial €75million fee last year.

Juve won the Scudetto for the ninth time in a row but were beaten by Napoli on penalties in the Coppa Italia final and were knocked out of the Champions League on away goals at the last-16 stage by Lyon.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri was sacked the day after that European exit and replaced by Under-23s boss and former midfielder Andrea Pirlo.

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    A pause for October's international break did nothing to check the riotous start to the Premier League season.

    From the action-packed and controversy-laden 2-2 draw between table-topping Everton and champions Liverpool at Goodison Park to West Ham's late comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Tottenham, last weekend was another to baffle and excite.

    England's top flight has long trumpeted a reputation for being the most exciting league in the world.

    Right now, it seems difficult to argue against that viewpoint, but how does the Premier League compare to its other major counterparts in Europe at this unusual time for elite football?

    Goals, goals, goals

    As you might expect from a season that has already seen the champions beaten 7-2 by a team that only escaped relegation on the final day last term and their expected main challengers lose 5-2 at home, the Premier League stands above the other "big five" leagues in terms of goals per game.

    There have been 172 goals in 48 Premier League matches so far, an average of 3.6 every 90 minutes.

    That outstrips the returns so far from LaLiga (2.2), the Bundesliga (3.1) and Ligue 1 (2.8) fairly comfortably, although Serie A runs its English counterpart close with 136 goals in 39 matches for 3.5 per game. We'll take a closer look at Italy's great entertainers later.

    The Premier League is averaging almost a goal more per game than over the entirety of last season, when 1,034 in 380 matches amounted to 2.7 per ninety minutes.

    That edged slightly ahead of Ligue 1 and LaLiga (both 2.5), with Serie A (3.0) and the Bundesliga (3.2) weighing in with more goals, pound for pound.

    Paying the penalty

    One notable feature over the opening weeks of the season has been VAR-emboldened referees pointing at the penalty spot as if it's going out of fashion. Leicester City won and converted three in their 5-2 rout of Manchester City.

    The 29 spot-kicks awarded amounts to 0.6 per game and leads the way among the big five leagues, as does the average of 0.5 penalty goals after 25 found the back of the net.

    Last season, there were only 92 awarded and 72 scored in the Premier League – each an average 0.2 per game.

    Should the current trend continue, the division will far outstrip those numbers and might end up somewhere close to Serie A in 2019-20, where 187 awards and 152 goals amounted to 0.5 and 0.4 per game respectively.

    Errors are fun!

    Of course, the Gunfight at the O.K Corral nature of some Premier League games this season has left a handful of purists bemoaning a lack of quality sometimes underpinning the soaring entertainment.

    There have been more errors leading to shots per game (0.8) in the Premier League than any of the other major divisions this season. However, it's not just defenders getting things wrong. Those mistakes have only yielded 0.3 goals from errors per match – the same as Ligue 1.

    But hang on, before you start to dismiss the Premier League's finest as uncultured, gaffe-prone oafs, consider Opta's numbers on build-up attacks.

    Build-up attacks are open play sequences that contain 10 or more passes and either end in a shot or a touch in the opposition box.

    There have been 208 of these in the Premier League so far this season, averaging 4.3 every 90 minutes. All the other divisions are below four.

    This adeptness when it comes to crafting patiently built attacks also comes with a risk. Teams doing so will generally play out from the back, where any errors have more chance of hitting those shots and goals against numbers.

    Serie A? The defensive masters? Not really

    That's right, the land of Catenaccio is completely giddy on Golazos. Atalanta scored four, four and five in their opening three wins, before shipping four at Napoli. They've netted 14 times overall and sit third.

    Second-placed Sassuolo are only one goal behind Gian Piero Gasperini's freewheelers with 13 goals.

    In terms of shots (25.7), shots on target (9.2), big chances (4.6), big chances scored (2.1) and errors leading to goals (0.4) per game, Serie A comes out on top of the pile in the early days of this raucous, surreal season.

  • Rumour Has It: Griezmann set for new contract at Barcelona Rumour Has It: Griezmann set for new contract at Barcelona

    Antoine Griezmann could be set to renew his contract at Barcelona.

    The France international has faced criticism for failing to live up to expectations since joining Barca from Atletico Madrid last year.

    However, Griezmann may join the list of players renewing with the LaLiga giants.

     

    TOP STORY – GRIEZMANN SET FOR BARCELONA RENEWAL

    Griezmann could be among the next group of players to renew at Barcelona, according to EFE.

    It claims Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto may also re-sign, amid reports players are reducing their wages at the club.

    It comes after Barcelona announced the re-signings of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Frenkie de Jong and Clement Lenglet on Tuesday.

    Griezmann scored 15 goals in 48 games for Barca last season, while he is yet to net in four appearances in 2020-21.

     

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    - A former Barcelona head coach could be set for a new job. Marca reports Palmeiras have made a move for Quique Setien after the departure of Vanderlei Luxemburgo.

    - Despite signing Nathan Ake and Ruben Dias in the close season, Manchester City are reportedly look for another defender. Fabrizio Romano suggested the Premier League giants are monitoring Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres.

    - Christian Eriksen's Inter future remains uncertain. CalcioMercato reports Inter turned down a loan bid from Borussia Dortmund in the close season, but the Serie A club could be open to the midfielder leaving in January.

    - After Virgil van Dijk suffered a serious knee injury, Liverpool are linked with defenders. The Sun says Brighton and Hove Albion would demand at least £50million for Ben White if the Premier League champions make a move for the centre-back in January.

  • Messi preventing Griezmann from expressing himself at Barca – Wenger Messi preventing Griezmann from expressing himself at Barca – Wenger

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    Griezmann arrived from LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid in a blockbuster €120million transfer last year but he has struggled to establish himself alongside Messi at Camp Nou.

    An unused substitute in Barca's 5-1 Champions League rout of Ferencvaros on Tuesday, Griezmann has failed to score in four LaLiga appearances this season – only managing one shot on target without creating a single chance.

    While Messi has just one league goal, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has registered seven shots on target and created six chances for his team-mates.

    Former Arsenal manager Wenger believes France international Griezmann is being hindered by Messi's presence in his preferred central attacking position.

    "Not playing at his position is complicated in the long term," Wenger told beIN SPORTS.  

    "At the start, the guy accepts it but, if he does not meet his needs in the long term and he feels that the position does not allow him to express his qualities, he will become discouraged.

    "Today, he is a player who must play in the centre because he has a great work rate, a precision in his passes. 

    "He can be dangerous with the last pass and by scoring goals, but there is congestion because he is in the range of play of Messi."

    In his first season with Barca last time out, Griezmann scored nine goals, supplied four assists and created 33 chances in 35 LaLiga appearances.

    Griezmann finished 2019-20 with 15 goals in all competitions – a tumultuous campaign which saw Barca dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

    The 29-year-old scored 133 goals in 257 games for Atletico between 2014 and 2019.

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