Mediocrity in Milan

February 3, 2015

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“Through 20 Serie A matches so far this season, AC Milan and Inter Milan have the same number of points. A few years ago, this would mean they were neck-and-neck for one of the top slots in Italy’s first division. I mean, these clubs are not only based in the same city but have also both won 18 scudetti, or Serie A titles. This season, as they sit 10th and 11th place, they’re knotted in mediocrity.” Soccer Pro

The decline of Serie A
“For football fans over a certain age there is no greater fall in modern football than what has happened in Italy during the past fifteen years. Serie A, the top division of Italian football, seemed like an unstoppable force throughout the 1990s. Shown live on Channel 4 in the UK and Ireland every Sunday the league brought glamour and entertainment to a sport slowly emerging from the disasters of the 1980s and was a huge contributor to what football has become today. Serie A in the late nineties was, arguably, the greatest football league of all time.” backpagefootball

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Russian football in crisis – part 1

February 3, 2015

“It was a typically Russian response, one that anybody who has worked here, or done business, with Russian companies will have experienced. Payday arrives, confidently you head out that evening and decide to remove some cash from the drinklink and you begin to boil. What was in your account the day before, hasn’t changed. It’s eight o’clock, so no good calling your boss or someone who can offer an explanation, worse, it’s a Friday and it dawns on you that your fridge is going to remain empty for another couple of days, at least. This is just the beginning. The end will be far more frustrating and depressing.” backpagefootball – part 1, part 2, part 3


We Went There: The Return of the Old Firm Derby

February 3, 2015

“There was a certain halfheartedness to the way Celtic manager Ronny Deila celebrated his club’s victory over Rangers after the full-time whistle, performing his now customary fist-pump routine in front of his own fans. Bragging rights don’t mean so much against such helpless opposition. The blue half of Hampden Park — the age-old, neutral battleground between Glasgow’s two bitter rivals — had emptied long before, leaving behind nothing more than the lingering air of factionalism and toxic bile that comes with every Old Firm derby. Police arrested 12 fans for alleged sectarian breach of the peace, with scuffles between supporters running into the night across the city.” Grantland


Hellas Verona: The Brigate Gialloblu

February 3, 2015

“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


Bayern Munich – The Model

February 3, 2015

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“Following the treble winning season in 2012/13, Bayern Munich enjoyed another year of success in 2013/14, once again securing the domestic league and cup double, while reaching the Champions League semi-finals before going down to eventual winners Real Madrid. The excellent season on the pitch was matched off it with revenue surging 13% to €487.5 million and profit before tax up to €25.9 million (€16.5 million after tax). Furthermore, all outstanding debt on the club’s Allianz stadium was paid off 15 years early.” The Swiss Ramble


Arsenal’s wealth of attacking options could prove decisive down the stretch

February 3, 2015

“For the majority of Premier League sides, winning is the objective and winning with style is an expected bonus. For Arsenal, however, winning with style has become something of a necessity; therefore, their 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa on Sunday went down very nicely indeed. In truth, this was something of an open goal for Arsenal thanks to Villa’s staggeringly naive approach of pressing in midfield and playing with a high defensive line. The amount of space they afforded Arsenal was quite extraordinary, with gaps in front of, behind and between the two hapless centre-backs, Jores Okore and Ciaran Clark. Theo Walcott broke in behind within the opening minute to reach an Aaron Ramsey through-ball, and Arsenal repeatedly caused Villa problems with this simple approach.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Scout Report | Ozan Tufan: Turkey’s Hottest Prospect

February 3, 2015

“Turkish football’s productivity – unsurprisingly – is deplorable. Enes Ünal and Ozan Tufan are the hottest prospects right at the moment. When it comes to football, European clubs hesitate to make an investment on Turkish players. Some Turkish journalists call it ‘passport problem’ but for me, it’s all about reputation. Turkish players must tighten their belts and work harder than ever.” Outside of the Boot