Serie A preview: Juventus face new challenges for fourth straight title

August 29, 2014

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“Last season, Juventus won Serie A by 17 points. The season before, Juventus won Serie A by nine points. The season before that, Juventus won Serie A by four points. Juventus is the best-placed Italian club (ninth overall) in the 2014 Deloitte Money League, a ranking of Europe’s top-earning clubs. It’s Italy’s biggest club and recent record suggests it has the best squad. The only question in Serie A is whether anybody can prevent Juve making it four in a row.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)


The end of the Rafa Benitez revolution at Napoli?

August 29, 2014

“At the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao there’s an olive tree. Tourists write down their wishes on pieces of paper and tie them to its branches. Before the second leg of his team’s Champions League play-off on Wednesday night, Napoli owner Aurelio de Laurentiis made one of his own. His wish? ‘That Napoli win against Athletic.’ No Italian team had ever claimed victory at San Mames but Napoli coach Rafa Benitez was defiant before the game: ‘We aren’t here to be the victim,’ he said on the eve of the game, which began with the two sides level 1-1 on aggregate.” ESPN


Can Mateo Kovacic Become a Regular at Inter Milan This Season?

July 22, 2014

“After what turned out to be a disappointing World Cup for him and his Croatian side, Mateo Kovacic returned to his club duties with Inter Milan last week. Manager Walter Mazzarri included him in to the starting XI in the 1-0 win over minnows Prato, in what can be seen as another sign of Inter’s determination to reject all the offers and keep Kovacic for the season that approaches. It is no secret that there is massive interest in a midfielder who turned 20 in May and has been considered one of the brightest prospects of world football.” Bleacher Report


Serie A season signs off with ding-dong battle for Europa League berth

May 19, 2014

“The Serie A season ended as these things usually do: with contrasting images of joy and despair. In one stadium, champagne bottles were uncorked and grown men were tossed up in the air. In another, an Italy forward wept inconsolably. His failure to convert a last-minute penalty had cost his team everything. Instead of sealing a triumphant sixth-place finish, Alessio Cerci had condemned Torino to disastrous seventh.” Guardian


Transfer Target: Who Will Rescue Mateo Kovacic from Inter Milan?

March 12, 2014

“As one would imagine, memories of the 1998 World Cup run deep in Croatia. Still very much a new nation then, only a few years after having gained its independence from Yugoslavia in a bloody war, the country had little to show for and football became its best promotional tool. The national team dazzled the world with an exuberant display in its maiden appearance at the tournament, wearing psychedelic red and white checkers and at times squeezing three exceptionally gifted playmakers into the lineup. As Croatia marched to third place in France, Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki and Aljosa Asanovic became known as its ‘magic triangle’.” Bleacher Report (Video)


Fiorentina 1-2 Inter: Palacio’s positional variation crucial in Inter victory

February 19, 2014

“Fifth-placed Inter won at fourth-placed Fiorentina, cutting the game between them to five points. Vincenzo Montella was still without Giuseppe Rossi and a host of defenders, with star midfielder Borja Valero suspended. Mario Gomez was fit enough to be on the bench, however, after a few months out – Joaquin and Josip Ilicic were upfront form the start. Walter Mazzarri named an unchanged side from last weekend’s 1-0 win over Sassuolo. Inter were the better side here – more organised without the ball and more purposeful with possession.” Zonal Marking


The 54 Club – Italy

December 29, 2013

“As usual my parents escaped England for Christmas, thus shirking any festive responsibilities, and 2012 saw them wintering in Rome. Taking up their kind offer to join them I deliberately arrived late in December with the aim of fulfilling the dream of every child who grew up watching James Richardson sip coffee and hold the Gazetta Dello Sport aloft outside the Pantheon, watching some live calcio. With the winter break arriving I expected my options to be limited and would have been quite content to seeing one of the Roman teams play a basement dweller but luck was on my side and Roma had a home fixture against my childhood sweetheart, AC Milan.” Back Page Football


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