Frappart first female referee in the Champions League

French referee Stephanie Frappart will be the first female match official in a men’s Champions League match when Juventus host Dynamo Kiev.

The Ukrainians arrive at the Allianz Stadium and Frappart, who has experience from the Europa League and the European Super Cup, will be at the whistle in Turin.

She will be assisted by Hicham Zakrani and Mehdi Rahmouni. Karim Abed will be the fourth official and Benoit Millot has been assigned to the VAR.

Juventus are already through to the last-16 of the competition, as they sit eight points above Dynamo Kiev in Group G with only two games remaining.

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Are Juventus Worse Off Having Parted Ways with Higuain?

Following the expiration of his contract at Juventus, Gonzalo Higuain moved to David Beckham’s newly-created Major League Soccer franchise, Inter Miami. Over the course of his professional career, few strikers have been able to match the Argentine’s goal-scoring figures. Despite significant misses in front of goal during high-stakes matches, the 32-year-old’s peak years should be remembered for his prolific scoring record that saw him establish himself as one of the best in Europe. Given his ruthlessness, it’s debatable that Juventus were too eager to rid of the Argentine. So, let’s take a look at whether Andrea Pirlo’s team are suffering in the absence of Higuain.

His Ruthlessness Has Been the Difference

At the end of the 2019-20 season, Juventus lifted their ninth consecutive Serie A title and their 36th in the club’s history. During the record-setting campaign, Higuain played a central role in helping the Old Lady further cement their legacy as Italian football’s most dominant domestic side. According to Transfermarkt, across 32 appearances, the 32-year-old scored eight goals and assisted a further four. Although this isn’t the best return of his career, the timeliness of his contributions shouldn’t be ignored.

Given that Juventus only clinched the title by one point from Inter Milan, every goal made a difference in 2019-20. Although debatable, there’s a case that Higuain scored the Old Lady’s most important goal of the season. When Maurizio Sarri’s team travelled to the San Siro to face Inter on October 6th, 2019, the Argentine scored an 80th-minute winner as the 36-time league winners secured a vital 2-1 victory. Furthermore, the former Real Madrid striker also delivered match-winning assists in back-to-back games against Torino and AC Milan in the following month.

Was the Time Right for a Change?

Hindsight is a marvellous thing, particularly in football. Regarding Higuain, it may be a case that Juventus didn’t realise what they had until it left. After the opening eight matches of the 2020-21 Serie A campaign, the Old Lady has already fallen to four draws; only one fewer than they managed in the entirety of the previous season. While there are no guarantees that the Argentine would have made the difference, his record certainly indicates that he could have won the club a few extra points. In terms of the title race, Juventus are still the favourites, despite their below-par start. As of November 26th, Pirlo’s team are 15/8 with Serie A betting to win a tenth consecutive title at the end of the season.

Irrespective of whether Juventus have made a mistake, it’s clear that Higuain is relishing the opportunity to play in the MLS. According to a report at the league’s official website, the 32-year-old states that he had always been “curious” about the league having watched his brother, Federico Higuain, play for Columbus Crew SC. Now, the two siblings both line up at Inter Miami.

Nothing Left to Prove

For over a decade, Higuain has been one of the most feared strikers in Europe, and age didn’t hinder his ruthlessness. Ultimately, only time will tell as to whether the Old Lady made an error in allowing the Argentine’s contract to expire, but it’s clear that the 32-year-old is excited by his new footballing adventure.

Does Ronaldo pick when he plays?

According to Il Corriere della Sera, Cristiano Ronaldo, who was rested against Benevento, picks when he plays.

The Portuguese star is Juventus’ top scorer so far this season with nine goals in seven games in all competitions.

Ronaldo was rested against Benevento and according to several reports in Italy is expected to start against Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday even if the Old Lady have already qualified for last-16 stage of the Champions League.

The nine-time straight Serie A champions, however, find themselves six points far from Serie A leaders Milan after nine league games.

Il Corriere della Sera discusses Andrea Pirlo’s communication problems with part of Juventus’ dressing room and suggests Ronaldo decided not to play against Benevento on Saturday.

The report adds some Juventus players have not quite clear what they need to do on the pitch, especially on the defensive phase with the the team is often stretched.

“The choices of CR7 on which games to skip, at least have merit: identify problems, before it is late to solve them,” the report claims.

The Old Lady only won one of the four games played without CR7 this season.

Andrea Pirlo provided two different explanations for the Portuguese’s absence against Benevento.

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Juve: Chiellini and Demiral return

Juventus defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Merih Demiral have recovered from injuries and trained with the rest of the team today.

The Old Lady face Dynamo Kiev in Champions League on Wednesday but have already qualified for the last-16 stage.

“The Bianconeri’s work on the pitch continues unabated: Juventus met again this morning at the Training Center,” Juventus’ official statement reads.

“Tomorrow, in fact, will already be the eve of the Champions League: on Wednesday evening at the Allianz Stadium (9.00 pm), the Bianconeri will host Dynamo Kiev. Only one objective is on their mind: to repeat the first leg victory in Kiev.

“Today’s session was divided into three areas of focus: possession, tactics and exercises. It should be noted that Chiellini and Demiral carried out the entire training session with their teammates.”

Both players had sustained muscular injuries earlier this month.

“Tomorrow, the Bianconeri will meet again in the morning for a new day of work on the field. At 2.30 pm, Andrea Pirlo will host a press conference at the Allianz Stadium.”


 

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Why did Pirlo rest Ronaldo against Benevento?

Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo rested Cristiano Ronaldo against Benevento but provided two different reasons to explain why CR7 didn’t travel with the rest of the team to the Ciro Vigorito.

Juventus were held to a 1-1 stalemate by Benevento on Saturday with Cristiano Ronaldo who remained in Turin to rest.

“It was programmed not to let him come to Benevento,” Pirlo told Juventus TV on the eve of the match.

The Portuguese star didn’t travel to Benevento at all even if the Italian tactician may have needed him in the second half with Juventus that couldn’t manage to score the winner.

Juventus fans have questioned Pirlo’s choice on social media, especially because the Old Lady are due to play Dynamo Kiev in Champions League on Wednesday but have already qualified for the last-16 stage.

The Serie A giants have only won one of their four games played without the former Real Madrid star this season. 

After the draw at the Ciro Vigorito, Pirlo provided a slightly different explanation to justify Ronaldo’s absence.

“He had a slight problem midweek and wanted to play in the Champions League anyway. After international duty, it was natural he’d need some rest. Ronaldo is an added value, but we must try to play our game even in his absence,” he told Sky Sport.

“It happens when you have a lot of players on international duty and also play the Champions League, we’re hardly the only club in this situation.

“Real Madrid were dependent on Ronaldo, he is a catalyst for goals and a focal point for moves, so it’s only to be expected he will be a central figure and many moves go through him.”

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