Just what is happening in Milan?

May 20, 2015

“It’s hard to believe that only four years ago AC Milan secured their 18th Scudetto. Even harder to believe that it was just a year before that Internazionale were on the verge of completing an unprecedented Treble of league title, European Cup and Coppa Italia. Today both Milan clubs languish in midtable obscurity, the recent scoreless draw between the clubs highlighting the lack of spark in either team. Milan are as close in points to relegation as they are to a Champions League spot. How they have reached this point could be a blueprint on how not to use your transfer funds.” backpagefootball


Real Madrid 1-1 Juventus: Real attack through the full-backs but Juve hold on

May 16, 2015

“Juventus qualified for the European Cup final with a 3-2 aggregate victory. Carlo Ancelotti surprisingly dropped Pepe and shifted Sergio Ramos back into his favoured centre-back position, after an unsuccessful stint in midfield during the first leg. Upfront, Karim Benzema was fit to return, and otherwise it was Real’s expected side, with Marcelo and Dani Carvajal returning having been rested for the weekend draw with Valencia.” Zonal Marking

Tactical Analysis: Real Madrid 2-2 Valencia | Valencia’s counter attacks and Real’s positional play
“The last clash between the teams ended in a 2-1 win for Valencia. This time in the Santiago Bernabeu, things didn’t quite turn out the way Ancelotti would have want them too either, as Real were down by 0-2 after just 30 minutes of the game. Thanks to a much better performance in the 2nd half, Real managed a draw courtesy a stunner from Isco, which was also the last goal to be scored ending the game at 2-2.” Outside of the Boot


Dnipro’s Europa League run reaps seeds sown by Yevhen Kucherevskyi

May 16, 2015

“It is 11 years since I visited Dnipropetrovsk. It may have changed, but back then it was a bracingly industrial city, the river thick with green sludge. Amid the factories and the endless brick there was one oasis: Dnipro’s impressive training base, a block of immaculate, manicured pitches surrounded by trees. ‘Dnipro always had a good school,’ said their then coach, Yevhen Kucherevskyi. He is dead now, killed in a car crash in August 2006, but the academy remains a cornerstone of the club: 12 of the first-team squad are home-grown. On Thursday Dnipro face Napoli in Kiev in the second-leg of their Europa League semi-final.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


The End of a Mini Era: Where Does Real Madrid Go From Here?

May 16, 2015

“Things move quickly at Real Madrid. One day you’re on top of the world, celebrating La Décima, and then before you know it, a year has gone by and suddenly everybody’s (probably) looking for a new job. Technically, Real Madrid are still alive in the La Liga title race, but with a four-point gap and two games to play, it’s doubtful they’ll chase down Barcelona. After yesterday’s 3-2 aggregate loss to Juventus in the Champions League semifinals, the Madridistas are staring down a season without a single trophy,1 and at a club where the only constant is change even when things are going well, nobody’s job is safe — unless you’re a certain Portuguese superstar.” Grantland

On verge of treble, winning proves to be Barcelona’s elixir after turmoil
“In January, Barcelona was in crisis. The vaunted front three hadn’t gelled, Lionel Messi was out of sorts and furious at being left out for the first game after the winter break (even though he had been in each of the two previous seasons as well) and Luis Enrique appeared to be a dead man walking. And that’s without even mentioning the off-field problems–the transfer ban, the boardroom wrangling, the allegations surrounding the Neymar transfer and the general sense that the club had tarnished its good name with some of its commercial deals. Four months on, Barca is three games from the treble.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Talent Radar Player Rankings: Top 10 Young Forwards in 2014/15

May 16, 2015

“In the past two weeks, we’ve updated our Talent Radar player rankings in the Goalkeepers, Defenders and Midfielders section. We’re now left with this season’s final issue of the Forward Rankings. It’s common tendency that players playing up front attract the most attention, from both fans and clubs. Many of the names on this list will be the subject of transfer speculation in the coming months. We’re going to leave any kind of speculation surrounding these players out of this and give you an unbiased judgement of how the players have done this past season to let you know the reason for the hype around them.” Outside of the Boot


Champions League semis showcase changing role of deep-lying midfielder

May 12, 2015

“This season’s Champions League semifinals don’t feature the four most outstanding goalkeepers, defenders, wingers or strikers in the world, but it’s difficult to argue with the selection of deep-lying midfielders. In Sergio Busquets, Andrea Pirlo, Xabi Alonso and Toni Kroos, we’re being treated to an exhibition of probably the world’s four most revered footballers in that role. Between them, the quartet have won the last three World Cups and seven of the last 12 Champions League titles. More crucially, in different ways, they’ve helped redefine the nature of their position.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Gareth Bale: Is Real Madrid’s Wales forward lacking inspiration?

May 6, 2015

“Short of confidence, no real impact and without a shot on goal to his name, Gareth Bale cut a disappointing figure during Real Madrid’s 2-1 defeat at Juventus. The fit-again 25-year-old Wales forward was eventually substituted after 86 minutes, his performance in the first leg of this Champions League semi-final drawing criticism from both Spanish and British media.” BBC


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