“Once, not so long ago, the soccer world looked to Italy’s Serie A to lead the way. Now the league’s asking the rest of the planet for help. It’s considering playing the first round of matches in the 2015-16 season in cities such as London, New York, Paris, Jakarta, Shanghai and Beijing. It’s a desperate idea to drum up interest from a faltering league. We should caution that it’s Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis (below) who’s pitching the idea, and as you’d expect from a big-time film producer, he has a penchant for dramatic but unrealistic gestures – like threatening to send his players to some kind of training prison camp, and proposing suing the Italian government for $16 billion.” Fusion
“Can you believe it’s April already? While there have been times over the past eight months when the season’s felt like an interminable drag — those weeks of domestic cup games, the handful of international breaks, consecutive weekends in which the best game involves Newcastle — we’re finally here. With just about two months left in most leagues across Europe, it’s the stretch run, where the rubber meets the road, the standings approach finality, and things become truly exciting. Except, maybe not this year.” Grantland
“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