After the Fall: As Juventus Dominates, Serie A Needs Both Milan Teams to Be Competitive Again

August 21, 2015

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“What’s next for Serie A? Last year — with Juventus’s run to the Champions League final and five Italian teams in the Europa League’s Round of 16 — seemed like a big step forward for a league that has struggled to keep up both financially and competitively with other major European brethren. Yet something was missing: The red-and-black stripes of AC Milan. And now this year, for the first time in 60 years, neither AC Milan nor Inter Milan has qualified for European competition.” Grantland


José Mourinho thrives on tension but after two years it becomes a problem

August 21, 2015

“José Mourinho is a manager who thrives on conflict, someone who is never happy unless there is something to be unhappy about. Or at least to pretend to be unhappy about. ‘Mourinho,’ as Manchester City’s chief executive, Ferran Soriano, said when explaining why Barcelona opted for Pep Guardiola in 2008, ‘is a winner, but in order to win he guarantees a level of tension that becomes a problem.’ Tension is simply how he operates. If it isn’t there, he has to create it and he isn’t too bothered whom he hurts in doing so.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Chelsea doesn’t have the depth to win the Premier League

August 21, 2015

“Chelsea cake-walked its way to the Premier League title last year. All the usual challengers were either in a state of transition (Manchester United and Liverpool), apparently lacking motivation (Manchester City), or being Arsenal (Arsenal). Having kept all the important pieces of the same squad together, and with questions still hovering over its rivals, Chelsea is (was?) heavily favored to repeat as champions. But judging by the evidence on display in preseason and in the Blues’ first two performances in the league, we should probably pump the brakes on those predictions.” Fusion


Is Brendan Rodgers actually any good?

August 21, 2015

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“This is something of a make or break season for Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool. Even a man with his levels of self-confidence must realize that he could find himself out of a job if Liverpool has another season like the previous one. For all the various moving pieces involved in a successful soccer team, the buck ultimately stops at the manager. If a team with trophy-winning ambitions repeatedly fails to win any trophies, heads usually roll.” Fusion


Tactical Analysis | Liverpool 1-0 Bournemouth: Combination play down the right

August 21, 2015

“Liverpool started off their home Premier League campaign with a less than convincing win over newly-promoted Bournemouth, aided by a controversial debut Anfield goal for summer signing Christian Benteke. The Reds named an unchanged eleven from last weekend’s win over Stoke City, while Eddie Howe effected two changes in his Bournemouth side, bringing in Eunan O’Kane and Max Gradel for Dan Gosling and Marc Pugh respectively. Liverpool lined up in their  customary 4-2-3-1; Adam Lallana’s position was more central while Philippe Coutinho started on the right. Jordan Henderson and James Milner formed the central midfield pairing, with Henderson sitting slightly deeper than Milner.” Outside of the Boot


La Liga preview: Can Real Madrid or Athletic Bilbao overtake Barcelona?

August 21, 2015

“On the face of it, the Spanish Super Cup suggested this season might be different. Barcelona, who won the treble of league, Copa del Rey and Champions League last season, was beaten 4–0 in the first leg by Athletic Bilbao and, back at the Camp Nou, managed only a 1–1 as it attempted the impossible task of overturning that deficit. Is Barça in crisis, could Athletic mount a serious challenge, is this the year when Spain becomes more than a two and a half horse race? Probably not.” SI – Jonathan Wilson