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

Tactician’s Corner: Atlético runs out of steam in heartbreaking CL loss to Real Madrid

May 26, 2014

“Finals don’t often come down to pretty football, especially those that go into extra time. That doesn’t mean the tactical battles are any less compelling, as Real Madrid’s 4-1 win in the Champions League final over Atlético showed. Both managers made strange decisions in their starting lineups. Diego Costa, supposedly fit after his horse-placenta hamstring treatment, didn’t even last 10 minutes for Atlético, while Sami Khedira played a rather ineffective hour in just his third appearance for Real since recovering from a serious knee injury.” SI

Atlético reaches its breaking point as Real Madrid claims La Decima
“It turns out there was a breaking point for Diego Simeone’s magnificent Atlético Madrid side, and it came with 10 minutes of extra-time remaining. The club had won La Liga and was within two minutes of winning a first ever Champions League. Even after conceding to Sergio Ramos, there was still a chance it could cling on through extra-time for penalties, but once Gareth Bale had headed Real Madrid into the lead, it collapsed — physically and emotionally shattered. Marcelo’s late drive and Cristiano Ronaldo’s even later penalty added an unrepresentative one-sidedness to the scoreline, but there was no shame in defeat.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid (aet): Tactical Analysis | Game changing substitutions from Carlo Ancelotti
“The Champions League is always a very exciting competition, but this season provided a few more edge of the seat encounters than most others. After a season of incredible football from many teams across Europe, we got to the final in Lisbon last night, which like almost every other game in this season, was exciting from start to finish. Atletico as always, worked had, fought till the end, and made things very difficult for the opposition, but at the end of the day, the sheer determination and energy from Real made the difference, as the Galacticos 2.0 made history by reaching La Decima.” Outside of the Boot

Sizing up the Real vs. Atletico tactical battle
“Big clubs have a nasty habit of ruining their little city rivals’ celebrations. When Everton finished above Liverpool for the first time in years back in 2005, beating them to the final Champions League spot, the Reds went out and won the European Cup. When Manchester City’s 35-year wait for a major trophy ended with their 2011 FA Cup final win, Manchester United clinched the Premier League title on the same day.” ESPN – Michael Cox

Atlético Madrid – welcome interrupters

May 24, 2014

“‘If you believe and if you work, you can do it.’ Diego Simeone’s words were clear on Sunday evening. They were simple, they were true. Speaking at an enormous celebratory parade in the wake of Atlético Madrid’s attritional league-winning draw, away at Barcelona, Simeone extolled humble virtues often lost in the din of modern professional football That Atlético are now triumphant is genuinely significant. Setting aside Rangers’ spectacularly grubby fall from Scotland’s top tier, the last decade had seen Spain develop its own high-end version of an Old Firm hegemony.” backpagefootball

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

Fear the Underdog?

May 17, 2014

“Atlético Madrid is the third-most successful club in the history of Spanish soccer, which is a little like being the third-most famous khan in the history of the Mongol horde. Good job by you, but you’re never going to stop hearing about Genghis and Kublai. Atleti has won nine titles in La Liga, Spain’s top division, which is great, except that Real Madrid and FC Barcelona have combined for 54. And when you start running the math on that, and realize there have only ever been 82 champions crowned in La Liga, and add in that Madrid and Barcelona have collectively finished second an additional 45 times (versus eight for Atlético), and further consider that Atleti isn’t even the biggest team in its own hometown (that would be Real) — well, you get a clear picture of a tough little club that’s been overshadowed by its planet-conquering, culture-altering rivals.” Grantland – Brian Phillips

Liverpool & Roma’s job is only half-done. Consistency & sustainability now key

May 14, 2014

“7th place with 61 points. 6th place with 62 points. That is what Liverpool & Roma’s 2012/13 league position spelled. The unpleasant factor in that is that it wasn’t even a surprise. Both these traditionally competitive clubs had fallen well off their high horse and into uncharted territory, with the risk of near perpetual mid-table obscurity. Both have now found their feet, and certainly the club’s ideology, as they rescued themselves from a faltering status and emerged as shock contenders, league leaders and eventual runners-up in their respective leagues. But while fans and management can certainly chuckle at their success, their happiness should be no more than that. To have achieved their remarkable league positions is quite incredible, but the job is only half done. The rest test begins now to ensure this season’s efforts weren’t in vain.” Outside of the Boot

Europa League final an historically charged affair

May 14, 2014

“The Europa League final makes its way to Italian shores for the first time in its current guise this Wednesday, although the showpiece is tinged with disappointment for the host city. The Mayor of Turin has been trumpeting the slogan ‘scegli lo sport, sorridi!’ (choose sport, smile!) in the build-up to the game, but Torinese grins are through gritted teeth. Hometown heroes Juventus — the dominant force in Italian football for the past three years — fell at the penultimate hurdle, a semifinal defeat to Benfica denying the Bianconeri a chance to extend their record haul of three titles in the competition.” ESPN


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