“Few cities and even fewer teams, have the ability to pierce fear into the hearts of opponents. The combination becomes much rarer, when the city has been awarded the status of World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and the team has been on the fringes of its national league for quite some time. Welcome to Verona, the third largest city in northeast Italy, famous for being William Shakespeare’s setting for Romeo and Juliet and infamous for being a rat’s nest, when it comes to football. Verona, is a perfect example of the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Italians.” Outside of the Boot
Ernö Erbstein, far right, lines up with his Torino team before the friendly against Benfica on 3 May 1949. Tragically the entire Torino team was killed the following day in the Superga air disaster.
“Ernö Egri Erbstein was a pioneering coach who created Il Grande Torino, the great side that won five successive Serie A titles. He was killed with the rest of his squad in the plane crash at Superga in 1949. Erbstein was part of the great Jewish Hungarian football tradition of the 20s and 30s and had begun to make a name for himself as a coach in Italy but when the Manifesto of Race was passed by Mussolini shortly before the second world war broke out, the newly appointed Torino coach was forced to flee the country where he had made his home. He eventually returned to Budapest with his wife, Jolàn, and his two daughters, Marta and Susanna, but their lives were devastated when, in March 1944, his homeland was occupied by Nazi Germany.” Guardian
“Even the most casual followers of Italian football are aware of the dark history of the rivalry between the Milan clubs. The peak of the violence associated with the fixture between the two may have been a long time ago but the Inter Milan Ultras are still very much in the forefront of matters. Joseph Solomon traces the origin and history of ‘organized groups’ of the Nerazzuri.” Outside of the Boot
“Diego Simeone is not out to eat humble pie. The 44-year-old Argentinian is hell bent on retaining the league title and going one step better than last season in the Champions League. Without having Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s payrolls, Atlético have gained success with a combination of sly tactics, strong leadership from a go-getting persona like Simeone, and a matchless spirit. And the Rojiblancos, long known as the “other team” in the Spanish capital, are a title contender in La Liga again.” Outside of the Boot
“In amongst a slew of yellow cards and all-action tackles from the likes of Lucas Orban and Nicolas Otamendi, not to mention the rampaging forward runs of wingbacks José Gaya and Antonio Barragan, you could be forgiven for viewing Enzo Perez’s Valencia debut as somewhat underwhelming. Indeed, in his first ever showing for the club, a famous 2-1 win over Real Madrid, the Argentine’s statistical output was decidedly ordinary. Playing at the base of midfield in Valencia’s 3-5-2 formation, Perez delivered only one tackle and one interception on the night, while simultaneously committing four fouls. In attack, too, his return was fairly meagre, and although he completed his passes with a solid 91% accuracy, not too many of them were overly significant.” Licence to Roam
“It’s hard to accurately predict future Ballon D’Or nominees based on a players current exploits in the early part of his career. But given the propensity of usual Ballon D’Or nominees bearing rather conspicuous goal-scoring traits, you wouldn’t go too wrong in betting Memphis Depay as a potential future nominee.” Outside of the Boot
“Hakan Calhanoglu grew up in Mannheim of Germany, before moving on to Karlsruhe, Hamburg and Leverkusen while getting called up to the Turkish National team in 2013. An attacking midfielder by trade, Hakan’s style and elegance on the ball has seen him sought out by some of the world’s best. Mini-Analysis: Operating behind the striker or across the midfield, Calhanoglu’s style of play is easy on the eye. A mainstay in the Hamburg team that narrowly escaped relegation last season saw him bag 11 goals and assist 4 in 32 games.” Outside of the Boot