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updated-champions-league-trophyJuventus and Roma were both handed tough draws in the Champions League, with the Bianconeri facing Manchester City, Sevilla and Borussia Monchengladbach is what has been dubbed the Group of Death.

Roma were always going to face a tough draw, as they were in Pot Three, but face the most difficult possible first seed, in defending champions Barcelona. Bayer Leverkusen eliminated the Giallorossi’s city rivals Lazio in the play-off round, and will return to Stadio Olimpico to face the Lupi. BATE Borisov of Belarus are the final team to be drawn in Roma’s group.

europa-league-drawFiorentina, Lazio and Napoli have discovered their Europa League group stage opponents. Italy has three representatives in this stage of the competition, with Lazio dropping down from the Champions League, and Sampdoria eliminated by Vojvodina.

Napoli were top seeds for this afternoon’s draw, and were handed a navigable group, albeit with some tough away trips. The Partenopei will play Club Brugge, eliminated from the Champions League by Manchester United, Legia Warsaw and Southampton’s conquerors Midtjylland.

Lazio have been been drawn in a tougher section, and will face last year’s runners-up Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, as well as last year’s Ligue 1 surprise package AS Saint-Étienne. The Aquile will also travel north to face 22-time Norwegian champions Rosenborg.

Juan-Cuadrado-juveChelsea forward Juan Cuadrado has signed for Juventus on a season-long loan deal, the Italian champions confirmed on Tuesday. Cuadrado moved to Stamford Bridge in a €35m deal six months ago from Fiorentina, but the Colombian international has become surplus to requirements under Blues coach Jose Mourinho.

Juventus have been looking to bolster their attacking midfield since the departure of Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich) and Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC) and amid the ongoing injury absence of Sami Khedira. After completing a medical, Cuadrado was confirmed as Juve’s latest acquisition days ahead of a high-profile clash with scudetto rivals Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.

Mario-Balotelli-AC-MilanIt looks like Liverpool will be able to unload Mario Balotelli after all as the Anfield flop is expected to complete a return to AC Milan within the next 48 hours.

Liverpool are so desperate to unload the Italian striker that they are expected to pay around 50% of Balotelli’s £90,000 per week wages if Milan takes him on loan for the season with an option to buy the 25-year-old next summer.

Over the weekend Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani confirmed their interest over the weekend of taking the forward back to Milan saying:

jovetic-interDisappointing performances by champions Juventus and last season’s runners-up Roma at the weekend, and those results will just intensify the pressure on both clubs when they meet in Rome next Sunday.

Juventus’s bid for a record-equalling fifth scudetto was kept in check by a stunning 1-0 defeat to Udinese on Sunday.

Massimiliano Allegri’s men had dominated throughout a one-sided encounter in Turin but paid the price for a string of missed chances when Frenchman Cyril Thereau was left unmarked to beat Gianluigi Buffon at his far post in the 78th minute. It was Juve’s first reverse at home on the opening day of the season, having suffered a rare opening day defeat in 2010 away to then top flight side Bari.

Juventus-championsJuventus chief executive Beppe Marotta says that the loss of key players like Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC) and Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich) and striker Carlos Tevez (Boca Juniors) over the summer will not stop the Turin giants from a record-equalling fifth consecutive scudetto, which begins on Sunday with the visit of Udinese.

Juve have replaced those players with quality this season adding Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), on a free transfer, Paulo Dybala (Palermo) and Mario Mandzukic (Atletico Madrid) by signing highly-rated Brazilian defender Alex Sandro from FC Porto on Thursday.

sandro-juventusBrazilian left-back Alex Sandro has snubbed reported interest from Manchester United and Real Madrid to sign for Juventus from Porto.

The full-back passed his Bianconeri medical earlier today, having arrived in Italy last night to complete the transfer.

“Porto and Juventus have reached an agreement for the sale of Alex Sandro to the Italian club on a permanent basis for €26m,” Porto confirmed on their official website.

“The 24-year-old left-back joined the Dragoes in 2011 and has been capped six times by Brazil.”

The 24-year-old joins the Turin giants on a five-year deal for €26m, to be paid over three years. A statement from Juventus said:

rudiger-romaRoma have announced the signing of Stuttgart defender Antonio Rudiger on a €4m season-long loan deal with option to buy at the end of the season for a further €9m next summer.

The 22-year-old was considered one of the most promising talents in the Bundesliga and has already made six appearances for Germany.

“It’s a great pleasure to be here and I’m delighted to wear the Roma colors,” the 22-year-old told Roma TV.

“I chose Rome because it’s a great city with a lot of culture and I want to be a part of this great team.

LaziofansLazio beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League playoff on Tuesday, with halftime substitute Keita scoring the only goal of an entertaining match.

The 20-year-old Keita, who had added more bite to the Lazio attack after replacing Miroslav Klose, scored in the 77th minute when he raced from the halfway line before firing across into the bottom left corner to leave Lazio with real hope of ending an eight-year absence from Europe’s premier competition.

The second leg will be in Germany next week with the losing side dropping into the Europa League.

 

Juventus-championsBeaten UEFA Champions League finalists Juventus are primed for another record-breaking season in Italy in the face of expected challenges from Lazio and Roma, while struggling Milan giants AC and Inter continue their search for Serie A credibility.

Barely two months after wrapping up one of their most successful seasons to date, Juventus kick off the 2015/16 campaign at home to Udinese on Sunday looking to take a first step towards a record fifth consecutive Serie A title. Having steered his side to the cusp of an unprecedented club treble, only to fall to Barcelona in last May’s Berlin final, coach Massimiliano Allegri would do well to register a repeat – especially given the movement of key players over the summer.