Alessio Romagnoli feels ready to step up for Italy in attempt to replace the injured Giorgio Chiellini.

Romagnoli featured alongside Leonardo Bonucci at the centre of Italy's defence on Thursday, as Roberto Mancini's side overcame Armenia 3-1 in a Euro 2020 qualifier.

However, the 24-year-old was caught out when Armenia took the lead through Aleksandre Karapetyan, who was later sent off.

With Chiellini set to miss the majority of the season after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury, Romagnoli seems likely to be Mancini's first choice to stand in for the Juventus stalwart.

"We always have to improve and be ready when called upon," Romagnoli told Rai Sport.

"Giorgio is a fantastic player and a great man. He helped me a great deal on international duty and I, or whoever replaces him, will give our best to make up for his absence."

Italy laboured for much of Thursday's encounter, only going ahead when Lorenzo Pellegrini headed home in the 77th minute, before Andrea Belotti's second goal sealed the points in Group J, with Mancini acknowledging his side were far from their best.

"I don't know if it was our worst performance. I said it would be difficult, because easy games no longer exist," Mancini told Rai Sport.

"We didn't start well, conceded a goal, but could've turned it around before half-time. In a way, the red card penalised us, as Armenia just focused on defending with 10 men and didn't allow any spaces.

"The truth is Armenia were physically superior and are mid-way through their seasons. We did what we needed to, we need to do more, but we're working on it."

Juventus have left Emre Can and Mario Mandzukic out of their Champions League squad.

Midfielder Can, who joined from Liverpool on a free transfer in 2018, has been overlooked in favour of Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Miralem Pjanic and new signings Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot.

Mandzukic, who scored in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in 2017, misses out in favour of Gonzalo Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi in attack.

Experienced defender Giorgio Chiellini has also been left out as he is expected to be sidelined for approximately six months following surgery on a damaged anterior cruciate ligament.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri expressed concern last month that he would be forced to omit senior players from the 22-man list for the group stage given the size of his squad.

He branded the club's transfer policy "embarrassing" as Juve struggled to offload stars to accommodate the arrivals of several new players, including Rabiot, Ramsey, Matthijs de Ligt, Danilo, Luca Pellegrini, Merih Demiral and Gianluigi Buffon.

"We have to cut six players from the Champions League squad," he said. "If we don't, the choices we have are crazy.

"The last 20 days of the [transfer] market will be difficult for us. It's a difficult, embarrassing situation, because we risk leaving top players out of the squad list.

"It's a situation we have to resolve, and it's not strictly connected to the choices of the coach or club."

Juve are in Group D of the Champions League alongside Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow.

They begin their campaign against Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano on September 18.

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini has been ruled out for around six months after having surgery on a damaged anterior cruciate ligament.

The experienced centre-back injured the ligament in his right knee during a training session last Friday.

The Serie A champions said in a statement on Tuesday: "This afternoon, Giorgio Chiellini underwent surgery to reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament of the right knee.

"The intervention, performed at the Hochrum clinic in Innsbruck by Professor Christian Fink in the presence of the Juventus Club Doctor, Dr. Tzouroudis, was perfectly successful.

"The expected recovery time is around six months."

Chiellini is likely to return in March, meaning he could be fit for the Champions League quarter-finals should, Juve reach that stage.

The 35-year-old has made 384 league appearances since joining Juve from Roma in 2005.

An eight-time Serie A champion, he was a key part of the defence under former coach Massimiliano Allegri, although muscle problems restricted him to just 22 league starts last season.

In April, the Italy international told DAZN he expected to play "for another year or two" and then take up a backroom role at Allianz Stadium.

Italy have called up Francesco Acerbi to replace the injured Giorgio Chiellini for upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Armenia and Finland.

Azzurri captain Chiellini faces a long spell on the sideline after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a Juventus training session on Friday.

Lazio centre-back Acerbi takes his place in Roberto Mancini's squad for next week's two away trips.

The former Sassuolo defender will compete with Armando Izzo, Gianluca Mancini and Alessio Romagnoli for the chance to partner Leonardo Bonucci.

AC Milan skipper Romagnoli replaced Chiellini when the 35-year-old was rested for the 6-0 victory over Liechtenstein in March.

Italy have won each of their four matches in qualifying to sit top of Group J.

Giorgio Chiellini has damaged the anterior cruciate ligament of his right knee and must undergo surgery, Juventus have confirmed.

The experienced centre-back will begin treatment in the coming days after tests at J-Medical revealed the extent of the injury, which was sustained during training on Friday.

Juve have not offered a timescale on the recovery of the 35-year-old, who scored the only goal of the game in last week's 1-0 Serie A victory over Parma.

"During today's training, Giorgio Chiellini sustained a sprain of his right knee," Juve said in a statement.

"The diagnostic tests performed at J-Medical showed a lesion of the anterior cruciate ligament.

"It will be necessary to have surgery in the coming days."

The news is likely to mean Juve will keep Daniele Rugani and Merih Demiral, who had each been linked with moves away from Turin before Monday's transfer deadline.

Chiellini has made 384 league appearances since joining Juve from Roma back in 2005.

An eight-time Serie A champion, he was a key part of the defence under former coach Massimiliano Allegri, although muscle problems restricted him to just 22 starts in the top flight last season.

In April, the Italy international told DAZN he expected to play "for another year or two" and then take up a backroom role at Allianz Stadium.

Juve face Napoli on Saturday and could consequently hand Matthijs de Ligt a competitive debut.

Juventus started their bid for a ninth consecutive Serie A title with a narrow, but thoroughly deserved, 1-0 win over Parma at Stadio Ennio Tardini on Saturday.

New boss Maurizio Sarri was absent from the dugout as he is recovering from pneumonia, but he will be buoyed by a performance that suggested they will once again be the team to beat this season.

Giorgio Chiellini scored the only goal of the game after 21 minutes, while Cristiano Ronaldo saw a goal ruled out for offside before the interval.

Juve were unable to add a second despite dominating throughout, although it mattered little as they comfortably kept Parma at arm's length to start the season in familiar fashion.

The visitors started with a spring in their step and should have gone ahead after 12 minutes, Ronaldo's header from 10 yards fizzing narrowly over.

Wojciech Szczesny pawed away Roberto Inglese's instinctive effort at the other end before Chiellini opened the scoring, the veteran defender diverting home Alex Sandro's scuffed volley from 10 yards.

Ronaldo should have doubled their advantage eight minutes later but flashed wide after being played in by Gonzalo Higuain.

There was more frustration for the Portugal international before the break when he saw a goal disallowed by VAR for offside. He lashed home superbly from a tight angle but replays showed he was marginally offside as he raced to collect Douglas Costa's pass.

Parma started the second half with more intent than they had shown in the opening 45 minutes, although they struggled to breakdown Juve's resolute defence.

Ronaldo clipped over from Costa's pull-back on the hour mark before Parma goalkeeper Luigi Sepe kept out the former Real Madrid's star's powerful drive from 20 yards.

The Bianconeri eased up in the closing stages, rarely looking like they would add a second, but the damage had been done by their defensive colossus in the first half.

 

What does it mean? Juve pick up where they left off

Juve were not at their very best but they scarcely needed to be to cruise past a limited Parma outfit. If Sarri was watching, he will have seen a team that looks solid at the back and lively in attack – the perfect combination for yet another title tilt.

Ronaldo wasteful but looking sharp

Any thoughts that the 34-year-old's powers might be diminishing were dispelled in a performance brimming with swagger and skill. He missed two clear chances in the first half and saw a goal ruled out, but he can reflect on a showing that bodes well for the season ahead.

Higuain fails to take chance

Few expected the Argentina international to be given a chance at Juve this season, which is why it was such a surprise to see Gonzalo Higuain starting in attack. He did little to suggest he will stay there, though, with a display every bit as listless as those he produced on loan at Chelsea last season.

What's next?

Juve welcome last season's runners-up and Sarri's former club Napoli to the Allianz Stadium next Saturday, while Parma travel to Udinese a day later.

Merih Demiral wants to live up to the example of his idol Giorgio Chiellini during the early stages of his Juventus career.

Turkey international Demiral joined Juve from Sassuolo in an €18million deal last month – the centre-back having impressed following his move to Serie A from Alanyaspor midway through the 2018-19 season.

The 21-year-old's style has been compared to former Juventus and Uruguay favourite Paolo Montero.

However, despite arguably posing a threat to the club's much-vaunted old-guard at the back along with standout close-season recruit Matthijs de Ligt, Demiral insists he need only look to the likes of Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci for inspiration.

"To be compared to Montero is an honour for me," he said on Tuesday.

"I hope to be able to show the fans that I'm a strong defender and live up to that expectation. My real idols are the players that I'm playing with now, like Chiellini.

"Chiellini and Bonucci have been helping me a lot to settle in here as well as the other players, I hope to learn a lot from them.

"[Head coach Maurizio] Sarri looks over the defensive side of play personally and this allows me to train in the best possible way and work on my weaknesses."

Demiral is the first Turkish player to sign for Juve, something he described as an "absolute honour", although he is grateful for the presence of Emre Can in Turin – the Germany midfielder of Turkish descent having helped him adjust to new surroundings.

"Emre Can is helping me a lot to settle in both on and off the pitch and I'd like to thank him publicly for that," he added.

Joao Felix showed why Atletico Madrid were happy to pay €126million to sign him with a hand in both goals as the Rojiblancos beat Juventus 2-1 in the International Champions Cup.

In a repeat of last season's thrilling Champions League round-of-16 tie that Juventus won 3-2 on aggregate, Atletico took a measure of revenge in an entertaining encounter at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, where Thomas Lemar turned Joao Felix's volley into the net to give Diego Simeone's men the lead.

The pair combined again for Atleti's second, which was scored by teenage sensation Joao Felix, whose performance full of energy and flair will have delighted his coach.

The result rounded off a satisfying pre-season for Atletico, who beat rivals Real Madrid 7-3 earlier in the ICC, while Juve coach Maurizio Sarri gave Paulo Dybala a run out after his mooted move away from the club failed to transpire.

Giorgio Chiellini's close-range volley was turned over the bar by Jan Oblak, who got down well to make a one-handed save, and Cristiano Ronaldo fired over the crossbar from the edge of the box as Juventus enjoyed a positive start.

But Atletico punished the Bianconeri's wastefulness after 23 minutes when Joao Felix met Kieran Trippier's cross with a side-footed volley that deflected off Lemar's thigh on its way past Wojciech Szczesny and into the net.

The lead lasted just six minutes as Khedira capitalised on some hesitant Atletico defending and sent a low drive into the bottom corner of Oblak's net, with Douglas Costa's step-over helping to distract the goalkeeper.

Lemar returned the favour to Joao Felix just after the half hour, floating a weighted pass into the box where the teenage forward slid in ahead of Matthijs de Ligt to score with a half-volley from 12 yards.

After Costa hit the outside of the post with a low drive early in the second half, Adrien Rabiot went even closer, crashing a thunderous effort against the upright from 20 yards.

Mario Mandzukic played in Dybala for a chance in the box 13 minutes from time but his deflected shot was saved at full stretch by Oblak, meaning Atletico entered the new season on a winning note.

Juventus have won the race for Matthijs de Ligt and handed Maurizio Sarri an €85.5million asset set to immediately challenge for a starting spot.

The Netherlands international commanded the attention of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and more before agreeing a five-year contract in Turin.

De Ligt, 19, captained Ajax with distinction in Europe and the Eredivisie last term and compiled a set of statistics consistent with a player who could change the look of Serie A's strongest defence. 

Our dive into the Opta data illustrates why one half of Juve's established centre-back pairing might be looking over his shoulder.

Bonucci battle brewing

De Ligt has walked through the doors at Allianz Stadium in rather more triumphant fashion than Leonardo Bonucci did almost 12 months ago.

The Italy international returned from an ill-fated stint at AC Milan and resumed his partnership with Giorgio Chiellini at the heart of the four-man defence regularly employed by Massimiliano Allegri.

The results were not as intended.

Juve conceded more goals – 30 – in Serie A than in any of their previous seven title-winning campaigns, and were breached twice in the Champions League on four separate occasions.

De Ligt could apply serious pressure to the 32-year-old's position.

New boss Sarri favours a 4-3-3 system and his shiny new acquisition outperformed fellow right-footer Bonucci in most key defensive measures last term.

Across all competitions, De Ligt won more duels (5.48), aerial contests (3.77) and tackles (0.61) per 90 minutes, while also completing a greater average number of clearances (3.95) and recoveries (6.53).

Dwarfed in each category by the Dutchman, Bonucci ranked last behind Chiellini, Daniele Rugani and the now-retired Andrea Barzagli for duels (3.02), aerial contests (1.75) and clearances (2.86).

 

Aerial prowess an alternative weapon

Sarri's Chelsea were accused of being a one-dimensional team that sought only to break opposition sides down through often tedious passing sequences.

Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain floundered in their attempts to spearhead the front three and the Blues scored the fewest goals of all top-six sides in the Premier League.

Tormenting defences domestically should be no trouble for Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Moise Kean and Juve's high-class attacking cohort, but Sarri would be wise to seek out a variety of scoring sources for an assault on multiple fronts.

In De Ligt, he has an aerial ace capable of climbing above any pack.

The 19-year-old conjured seven goals for Ajax last season: three in the Eredivisie, one against rivals Feyenoord in the KNVB Beker, and a further three in the Champions League.

Six of those were headed, including the towering effort which knocked Juve out of Europe while he also nodded an equaliser for Netherlands in their Nations League victory over England.

Bonucci, scorer of three goals, was the only Bianconeri defender to manage more than two.

Crucial interventions in big matches could tip the selection scale in De Ligt's favour.

 

Durability threatens established order

In the wake of Barzagli's retirement and the end of Martin Caceres' short-term loan, Juve reinforced their defensive stocks by signing Turkey international Merih Demiral from Sassuolo.

The 21-year-old will almost certainly find his place in the pecking order behind Rugani, a favourite of Sarri's since their time together at Empoli.

Bringing in a fifth centre-back to compete for one of two positions could lead the Italian champions to consider replenishing a diminished bank balance.

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City have reportedly shown interested in Bonucci, whose future is at least less certain than that of captain Chiellini.

What is in no doubt is De Ligt's readiness to carry the load required of a regular starter.

Throughout a demanding 2018-19 season, the reigning Golden Boy award winner turned out more times (55) than Chiellini and Rugani combined. Bonucci, Juve's top appearance-maker, started 14 fewer games.

Sarri demonstrated appreciation for a high degree of availability as he consistently paired David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger together at Stamford Bridge until a knee injury removed the latter from calculations.

Now, armed with hard evidence of De Ligt's excellence, the Bianconeri boss might forge a fresh partnership in Turin to herald the beginning of a new era.

Gianluigi Buffon thanked Juventus for giving him the "splendid gift" of being able to play in the same team as Cristiano Ronaldo following the goalkeeper's return to the club.

Buffon left Juve last year and spent a season at Paris Saint-Germain, before turning down the opportunity to remain in Ligue 1.

It soon became clear Buffon's next destination was to be Turin once again, having spent the best 17 years of his career with the Old Lady.

The 41-year-old signed a contract that will expire in 2020 and he is particularly excited about the chance to call Ronaldo his team-mate.

"It's beautiful," he told reporters when asked about playing with the former Real Madrid star.

"At the end of my career I was able to play with Neymar and [Kylian] Mbappe thanks to Paris Saint-Germain, now it will happen with Cristiano Ronaldo thanks to Juventus.

"I think that for players with my experience and with my history, to be able to end the career in such a way is a splendid gift."

In his last spell at Juve, Buffon was captain following the departure of Alessandro Del Piero in 2012, while he also donned the number one jersey.

He was offered both of those by respective incumbents Giorgio Chiellini and Wojciech Szczesny, but Buffon gratefully declined, adamant he is not back in Turin to step on anyone's toes.

"I would like to thank Szczesny and Chiellini, who offered me the number one jersey and the captain's armband," he added.

"I am here to contribute as I have always done, not to take anything away from someone. The first-choice goalkeeper of Juve must have the number one and Giorgio, who is my brother, must be captain.

"I took number 77, which is in my history and in the history of Parma. That was the shirt that took me to Juventus and it was something that inspired me."

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