“Greg Lea takes an in-depth look at catenaccio, the 3-5-2 and an obsession with tactics and strategy tell us about Italian history and culture. ‘In twenty minutes here’, Rafael Benitez exclaimed at his first Napoli press conference in 2013, ‘I have been asked more tactical questions than in an entire year in England’. Italy has always been that way. Whereas in England the mainstream media talk more of psychology and man-management, Italians love to dissect strategies and theories, fans and journalists forcing coaches to explain their plans in the most intricate detail.” Outside of the Boot
“Juventus produced a classic away performance to win this tie comfortably. Jurgen Klopp named his default 4-2-3-1 formation. Kevin Kampl made his Champions League debut on the right, with Henrikh Mikhitaryan on the left flank – neither are natural wingers, and both prefer to drift inside. Soktatis Papastathopoulos started at right-back, with Lukas Piszczek still out following the injury he collected in the first leg.” Zonal Marking
“Full of himself, Sky Italia’s garrulous orator in chief Fabio Caressa made a gag at Roma’s expense before Monday night’s game with Sampdoria at the Olimpico. Doing a shift on the network’s sports news channel, he claimed to have exclusive pictures of the team’s final training session. ‘Very intense,’ he said as a cue to roll the VT. It was a promo of zombie drama The Walking Dead. As a joke it didn’t go down particularly well with the club and the fans, a precious few of whom, perhaps taking themselves a little too seriously, threatened to tear up their subscriptions.” WhoScored?
“Juventus played for, and achieved, the draw which means they remain firm favourites for a fourth consecutive Serie A title. Rudi Garcia’s side was largely as expected, with Francesco Totti playing the false nine role, and Adem Ljajic on the right flank. The only change from the Europa League victory over Feyenoord was in goal, where Morgan De Sanctis returned.” Zonal Marking
“In 2015, there is something of a gulf between the German Bundesliga and the Italian Serie A. While the former was booming with full grounds and exciting football, the latter was in the doldrums both on and off the pitch – a situation best summed up by FC Bayern München’s 7-1 demolition of AS Roma in the group phase of the champions league and Parma FC’s financial collapse.” Bundesliga Fanatic
Ranking the Top 10 Young Midfielders so far in 2014-15: Sterling moves up as Liverpool begin late season resurgenceMarch 6, 2015
“After another minor break, the Talent Radar Player Rankings return, with the men in the middle of the park the focus of our attentions. A lot has changed since the last time the rankings were out, Borussia Dortmund’s fall was only just starting, Liverpool were still in the Champions League and the Italian Serie A race actually looked interesting. While the rankings itself saw Marco Verratti on top, with a couple of challengers looking to dethrone him. Here’s who continue to impress us as we move into the business end of the football season.” Outside of the Boot
“For the second time in a week, rivals Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion are set for a West Midlands Derby, with Saturday’s FA Cup quarterfinal at Villa Park coming on the heels of Tuesday’s Premier League match in Birmingham. Surprisingly for what was effectively a ‘relegation six-pointer’ and a local derby, Villa’s home ground was not even close to being full in midweek. Local rivalries, with their often unique histories of animus, usually carry an added level of intrigue that separate them from other fixtures on the calendar, but as we saw while West Brom came up short in the dying seconds on Tuesday (thanks, Ben Foster!), not all derbies are created equal.” Soccer Gods