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ROME (AP) — Nearly 70 years after the tactic was invented Cheap Argentina Soccer Team Uniform , Italian clubs are still struggling to shed their “catenaccio” past.Juventus has come in for harsh criticism over its defensive play during a surprising elimination by a young and exciting Ajax squad in the Champions League this week.“In Italy, soccer is still defensive and individual, whereas in Europe it’s necessary to offer a more offensive and collective approach,” former Italy coach Arrigo Sacchi wrote in an editorial published in the Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday.In both legs, Juventus relied on Cristiano Ronaldo to carry the scoring load and its vaunted defense to keep the opposing strikers in check.Ronaldo came through with the opening goal in each leg but a fluke equalizer from Ajax in the return match changed the momentum as Ajax went on to a 3-2 aggregate victory.“Individualism isn’t enough,” Sacchi said.Sacchi, a two-time European Cup-winning coach with AC Milan, added that “defenders don’t always have to outnumber opponent’s strikers” and that Juventus needed “a more optimistic and courageous approach.”“Catenaccio,” which translates as lockdown, is a highly defensive tactic that entails sitting back and negating every opportunity from the opponent before striking back with counterattacks.The system was developed under Nereo Rocco at Padova in the 1950s then was perfected by Helenio Herrera’s highly successful Inter Milan squad in the 1960s.Italy has produced elite center backs for decades and the “BBC” trio of Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini has played an integral role in Juventus’ march to seven straight Serie A titles — with a record-extending eighth championship likely to be celebrated on Saturday if the team can earn a point at home against Fiorentina.Yet, Juventus has rarely been entertaining to watch over the eight seasons.First under Antonio Conte and then with Massimiliano Allegri in charge www.thetopsoccer.com , Juventus has largely sought to drain the energy out of its opponents before striking back for marginal victories.Juventus has scored more than three goals only once in all competitions this season — despite dominating Serie A with a 17-point lead over second-place Napoli.Meanwhile, all four of the clubs that reached the Champions League semifinals — Ajax, Tottenham, Barcelona and Liverpool — preach attacking, free-flowing soccer.Tottenham edged Manchester City on away goals following a 4-4 aggregate score in the quarterfinals, Barcelona advanced 4-0 over Manchester United and Liverpool crushed Porto 6-1 over two legs.The last time an Italian club won an international title came when Inter lifted the Club World Cup trophy in 2010.“Italian soccer is stuck in the dark ages. It seems like we don’t enjoy ourselves when we play,” Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said Thursday. “The show yesterday (between Tottenham and Manchester City) would be impossible in Italy, where we hide behind tactics.”A lack of goals also contributed to Italy’s failure to qualify for last year’s World Cup, as did a lack of belief in younger players.With Roberto Mancini having replaced the fired Gian Piero Ventura as national team coach, he has promoted a new generation of players under-utilized by their clubs.Players like 19-year-old Roma midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo, who Mancini called up to Italy’s squad before he played a single Serie A match; or 19-year-old Juventus striker Moise Kean, who last month became the youngest player to score a goal for the national team in 60 years.Kean had scored eight goals in his last nine games for Juventus and the national team entering the return leg against Ajax but was preferred to an out-of-form Paulo Dybala at the start and only came on in the second half when Dybala was injured. In the first leg www.thetopsoccer.com/national-team-kit/belgium , Kean was not used at all.Meanwhile, one of the few times that Juventus was seriously challenged during its eight-year reign at the top of Serie A came last season when Napoli’s mesmerizing passing game under Maurizio Sarri kept it close right until the end.“Glory in soccer is achieved by teams that make beautiful play an integral ingredient,” Sacchi said. “A victory is important but it becomes even more so when the show helps achieve the victory.” DAVENPORT, Fla. (AP) — Christian Pulisic has a vision of a transformed U.S. soccer team, a red-white-and-blue power that gives opponents sleepless nights similar the nightmares that plague players on the eve of facing Brazil or Germany.“I want them to fear them like a big team,” he said Tuesday, quickly acknowledging “obviously, we still feel we have a long way to.”The midfielder from Hershey, Pennsylvania, is with the national team this week for the first time since he became the most expensive American player. Chelsea agreed in January to buy Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for 64 million euros (then $73 million), then loaned him back to the German club for the rest of the season.In their first training camp with new coach Gregg Berhalter, a trio of emerging 20-year-olds could start together for the first time: Pulisic Cheap Brazil Soccer Team Uniform , Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams.“There’s a lot of things that we talk about, that we need to be leaders, we need to show everybody what we’re about,” Adams said. “A lot of times I feel that in the U.S. we talk about how many good young players we have and stuff like that, and there’s a lot of players that end up falling off or not being heard about again. And you don’t want to be one of those players.”Pulisic was 17 when he made his Bundesliga debut in 2016 and became a regular with the national team. When the U.S. lost at Trinidad and Tobago in October 2017, failing to qualify for the World Cup, he was the image of defeat. Pulisic crouched on the field, steadied his body with his right hand and covered his face with his left. The emotional pain was intense.“Ever since that happened, it makes you want to be in a World Cup that much more,” he said. “So, yeah, definitely it motivates me.”A regular with Dortmund the past two seasons www.thetopsoccer.com/national-team-kit/colombia , he struggled with a torn calf muscle last fall and a thigh injury this winter. He lost his starting job to 18-year-old English winger Jadon Sancho.Pulisic’s start against Hertha Berlin on Saturday was just his sixth in the league this season, but he scored as a sub against Stuttgart on March 9, his second league goal this season and first since September. He played in both Champions League round of 16 matches against Tottenham, though he struggled to be effective in the first leg.“I feel very confident right now,” he said. “I’m feeling very good. I feel like I’m at the top of my game. So I want to play as much as I can over there over in Dortmund. I’m not there to just finish out my time. I want to fight and they know that.”Chelsea wanted to acquire Pulisic during the January transfer window because it anticipated discipline from FIFA, which in February banned the club from signing players for the next two transfer windows. FIFA concluded the team violated regulations on the registration of young players, a penalty the Chelsea has appealed.Pulisic long dreamed of playing in the Premier League, the most watched soccer league on U.S. television. Chelsea needs a playmaking midfielder in case Eden Hazard leaves this summer.Knowing his time at Dortmund will end in two months does not make Pulisic feel awkward.“My teammates are all professionals,” he said. “They understand how this business works. I wanted to move and they’re all very happy for me and the club is, as well.”After starting the season with 12 wins and three draws in its first 15 matches, Dortmund has two losses and three ties in its last nine games. After opening a seven-point lead in early February, it is tied with Bayern Munich atop the Bundesliga at 60 points with eight matches left Cheap England Soccer Team Uniform , in second place on goal difference.Dortmund last won the title in 2012 and is seeking to end Bayern’s streak of six straight championships.“We started off so strong, and unfortunately I’ve had some injuries kind of on and off throughout the season, which has been a low point for me,” Pulisic said. “I’ve been working on that and trying to keep myself healthy for the rest of season. … Obviously I’m super-excited to be there the rest the season and fight for the title.”While Dortmund uses Pulisic as a wide player, Berhalter envisions him as an attacking central midfielder, paired with McKennie.“I don’t mind where I play on the field,” Pulisic said. “I just like to be in an attacking area where I can create and help the team score goals because that’s where I feel I am at my best. And so I’m happy. I like the style that he has, and I like that position a lot.”


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