Chelsea’s loss at Juve illustrates the challenges Tuchel faces in fighting for titles domestically and abroad

September 30, 2021

Leonardo Bonucci in action for Juventus against Sampdoria.
“Thomas Tuchel probably didn’t need a reminder of the difficulty in competing on two fronts this season, but Manchester City and now Juventus have given him just that in the space of five days. The chaotic circumstances surrounding his arrival at Stamford Bridge in January — replacing fan favourite Frank Lampard and thrust straight into a condensed schedule made more unrelenting by COVID-19’s impact — created a degree of breathing space in the Premier League that helped propel them to Champions League glory. Tuchel was of course under a degree of pressure to secure a top-four spot last term, but he harnessed that rarest of things under owner Roman Abramovich — a sense of freedom arising from lowered expectations — to galvanise this group to an improbable European success. The dynamic is different this time. …”
Guardian: Tuchel and Chelsea are failing to capitalise on Lukaku’s specific threat
YouTube: Juventus vs. Chelsea: Extended Highlights, Bayern München vs. Dynamo Kyiv: Extended Highlights, Zenit vs. Malmö: Extended Highlights, Atalanta vs. Young Boys: Extended Highlights, Benfica vs. Barcelona: Extended Highlights, Wolfsburg vs. Sevilla: Extended Highlights

Why are Americans buying Italian football clubs?

September 24, 2021

“There is a wave of American-owned clubs in Serie A currently. Roma, AC Milan, Fiorentina, Parma, Spezia, Bologna and Venezia are all under US or Canadian control, meaning more than a quarter of the clubs in Italy’s top flight are owned by individuals from North America. Why do Americans want Italian clubs, and why is the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) allowing them to purchase these clubs at such a rate? Also, is it working out for them?”
The Athletic (Video)
Fortune: Despite ‘zero chance to win a championship,’ American business tycoons continue to pile into Italian soccer (March 2021)
Fortune: The Great Serie A Sale: Six Italian Soccer Clubs Are Currently Looking For New Ownership (Audio – Aug. 2020)
Understanding ‘Football’ in Italy By Rick Steves and Gene Openshaw
W – List of Italian football club owners

2021–22 UEFA Champions League

September 22, 2021

“The 2021–22 UEFA Champions League is the 67th season of Europe’s premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 30th season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs’ Cup to the UEFA Champions League. The final will be played at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It was originally scheduled to be played at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. However, due to the postponement and relocation of the 2020 final, the final hosts were shifted back a year, with Saint Petersburg instead hosting the 2022 final. The winners of the 2021–22 UEFA Champions League will automatically qualify for the 2022–23 UEFA Champions League group stage, and also earn the right to play against the winners of the 2021–22 UEFA Europa League in the 2022 UEFA Super Cup. …”
W – 2021–22 UEFA Champions League, W – 2021–22 UEFA Champions League group stage
Guardian – Champions League 2021-22 draw: group stage analysis and predictions

Arrigo Sacchi’s cultural revolution

September 18, 2021

Arrigo Sacchi
“In the early 1990s, the Italian national team were in a distinct crisis. To solve the tactical issues, the Federazione drew on the secret weapon of domestic Italian football: Arrigo Sacchi. The former Milan coach replaced Azeglio Vicini, who had not been able to win the World Cup at home, in 1991. Making its début against Norway, a draw meant that the qualification for the 1992 EURO was definitively over. However, Sacchi’s real goal was to rebuild the Squadra Azzurra – and in the long term to succeed at the 1994 World Cup. In that context, Sacchi relied on the well-known Milan axis composed of Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta and Franco Baresi. Meanwhile, the 1993 FIFA World Player of the Year, Roberto Baggio, was considered the pivotal point in attack. Certainly missing the qualities of his Dutch players from Sacchi’s Milan days, he was able to work on a coherent system, involving Baggio and the two Rossoneri Roberto Donadoni and Daniele Massaro. A system that, unsurprisingly, was very similar to the one Milan played in the late 1980s. …”
Arrigo Sacchi’s cultural revolution
Arrigo Sacchi: The Tactical Masters (Video)
How Marcello Lippi masterminded the resurgence of Juventus in the 1990s
The footballing fairy tale of Juventus cult hero Moreno Torricelli
How Giovanni Trapattoni adapted his way into legend
Total Football Journeyman: Arrigo Sacchi & The Cult of Universal Player (Video)
W – Marcello Lippi, W – Arrigo Sacchi, W – Giovanni Trapattoni
YouTube: A Brief History of Arrigo Sacchi, The coaching genius who made Juve invincible | Marcello Lippi Interview | Serie A, Legendary: Press Conference with Giovanni Trapattoni

Marcello Lippi

The Blueprint: Five Tactical Trends to Look out for in Juventus vs. Milan

September 16, 2021

“It’s official. The Blueprint’s gone continental. This week, we’re headed to Turin for a Serie A clash that pits the league frontrunners against an old superpower that has since faded. But maybe not in the way you think. Milan travel to Juventus with the sides in two very different frames of mind.  Juventus’ start has been troublesome to put it kindly, and downright dreadful if we are being less kind.  Defeat to Napoli last Saturday left Massimiliano Allegri’s side with just one point from their opening three fixtures, and they sit in 16th place. It’s the first time they’ve failed to win at least one of their first three Serie A matches in 52 years. …”
The Analyst

Fans don’t want legacy clubs dominating or state-funded clubs, so can football ever be happy?

September 4, 2021

“OK, so let me get this straight. We don’t want blue-blood clubs, like Liverpool and Manchester United, dominating for decades at a time and we are deeply suspicious of how enthusiastically these aristocrats embraced financial fair play (aka, Operation Drawbridge). When it comes to winners, we want to spread it around a bit — we like disruption. But we do not want these new challengers to be funded by oligarchs or sovereign wealth funds — unless it is our club, then it is completely fine — and we are not too keen on American investors coming over here and expecting to make some money. Is that right? If it is, many of you are going to be disappointed. But you will not be the only ones. …”
The Athletic

The Parable of Inter Milan

August 21, 2021

“The first alarm rang in February, a warning from thousands of miles away. Jiangsu Suning was one of the mainstays of that strange period, five or six years ago, when soccer awoke — almost overnight — to discover that China had arrived, its pockets bottomless and its ambitions unchecked, intent on inverting the world. At first, Europe saw this new horizon as it sees everything: as a market. China’s corporate-backed clubs were, as Turkey’s and Russia’s had been years before, a convenience and a curiosity, a place where they could offload unwanted players from bloated squads. …”
NY Times

Chelsea Tactical Analysis: Thomas Tuchel vs Previous Managers

July 25, 2021

“Thomas Tuchel’s entry into the Premier League as Frank Lampard’s replacement is seen with a lot of hope by the Chelsea faithful. Tuchel is a coach who has proven himself at the highest level and has managed the very best in the business over his last four stints. The German manager is an out-and-out football coach and he works quite intricately with the teams he has managed and the personnel he has worked with. … Antonio Conte would deploy a three-man defense with two wide centre-backs. The wing-backs would shuttle up and down the flanks. They’d join in attack and that’s why Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses were a hit under the Italian’s tutelage. Now, Tuchel has taken a bit of both worlds and fused them together into a system that has worked like a charm so far. …”
sportskeeda (Feb 2021)
YouTube: The Difference Between Tuchel & Conte’s 3-4-3 | Tuchel’s Tactics vs Conte’s Tactics (July 2021)
W – Thomas Tuchel, W – Antonio Conte
Thomas Tuchel – Chelsea – Tactical Analysis (March 2021)
Kante’s renaissance: How Tuchel restored him to role he starred in under Ranieri and Conte (May 2021)

How the Super League Fell Apart

April 22, 2021

“For 48 hours, soccer stood on the brink. Fans took to the streets. Players broke into open revolt. Chaos stalked the game’s corridors of power, unleashing a shock wave that resonated around the world, from Manchester to Manila, Barcelona to Beijing, and Liverpool to Los Angeles. That internationalism is what has turned European soccer, over the last 30 years, into a global obsession. The elite teams of western Europe are stocked with stars drawn from Africa, South America and all points in between. They draw fans not just from England, Italy and Spain, but China, India and Australia in numbers large enough to tempt broadcasters across the planet to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for the rights to show their games. …”
NY Times
W – The Super League
CBS – European Super League collapse explained: What’s next? Real Madrid, Barcelona quiet; Premier League clubs out (Audio)
BBC – European Super League: All six Premier League teams withdraw from competition (Video)
YouTube: All six English clubs confirm plans to exit European Super League

Capitalist Greed Created the European Super League

April 21, 2021

Roberto Firmino of Liverpool shoots while under pressure from Éder Militão of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second-leg match on April 14, 2021 in Liverpool, England.
“Yesterday, once again, the prospect of a breakaway European Super League (ESL) reared its head. The proposal — to carve out a continental competition in which fifteen of the game’s elite clubs could never be relegated — was met with widespread dismay by those who love the game. Despite a year that has shown just how vital fans are for the ‘spectacle’ of football, it was the match-going fans that once again were of least concern. Instead, if the plans go ahead, the future of football will be shaped by television and advertising — an entertainment industry that the top clubs estimate will deliver them £300 million per year, far outstripping their current domestic and Champions League revenues. It’s important to point out that the Super League isn’t an anomaly. …” Jacobin, European Super League explained: the contracts, plots and threats that shook football to its core, Guardian: The greed of the European Super League has been decades in the making, Guardian – ‘It’s war’: what the papers say about the European Super League, NY Times: Super League Appears to Collapse as City Walks Away

Champions League’s Last 16 Will Be Quite Telling

December 16, 2020

“By the time the UEFA Champions League’s knockout stage begins, much could change. A winter transfer window will have come and gone, though with COVID-19 impacting club finances across Europe and some already having spent big in the summer, it remains to be seen how substantial the forthcoming moves will be. Barcelona will have held its club presidential elections, a pivotal moment for a giant in turmoil and one that could have plenty of say in how the club operates moving forward. Influential players currently out injured should return, and the form, fitness and focus levels of clubs will certainly vary to what they currently are. …” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Serie A: Lazio takes care of Sassuolo to keep pressure on Napoli

March 1, 2015

“Lazio kept up the pressure on third-placed Napoli with a comfortable 3-0 win at Sassuolo in Serie A Sunday as the race for the final Champions League spot gathered pace. Goals from Felipe Anderson, Miroslav Klose and Marco Parolo helped Lazio record its third successive win and move two points behind Napoli, which can go level with second-placed Roma with a victory at Torino later. Sampdoria remained four points behind Lazio after coming from behind to win 2-1 at Atalanta. Fiorentina, which is level with Samp, visits Inter Milan later.” SI

Mediocrity in Milan

February 3, 2015

“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

Italy: Inter blows out Sassuolo while Milan holds off Parma

September 15, 2014

“Mauro Icardi scored his first ever hat trick as Inter Milan thrashed 10-man Sassuolo 7-0 on Sunday for its first victory of the fledgling Serie A season, while AC Milan won 5-4 at Parma in a highly entertaining match, which saw both teams reduced to 10 men. New signing Paolo Osvaldo netted twice and Mateo Kovacic also recorded his first league goal for Inter, while Fredy Guarin capped off a fantastic day for the Nerazzurri. Sassuolo, which lost at home by the same scoreline in its first meeting with Inter last season, also had forward Domenico Berardi sent off for an elbow on Juan Jesus.” SI

Talking Points: A big weekend for Torres, Hernández and Bielsa

September 12, 2014

“With the international programme officially over Andy Brassell, James Horncastle and Julien Laurens bring you their Talking Points ahead of this weekend’s action” Guardian

Serie A preview: Juventus face new challenges for fourth straight title

August 29, 2014

“Last season, Juventus won Serie A by 17 points. The season before, Juventus won Serie A by nine points. The season before that, Juventus won Serie A by four points. Juventus is the best-placed Italian club (ninth overall) in the 2014 Deloitte Money League, a ranking of Europe’s top-earning clubs. It’s Italy’s biggest club and recent record suggests it has the best squad. The only question in Serie A is whether anybody can prevent Juve making it four in a row.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

The end of the Rafa Benitez revolution at Napoli?

August 29, 2014

“At the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao there’s an olive tree. Tourists write down their wishes on pieces of paper and tie them to its branches. Before the second leg of his team’s Champions League play-off on Wednesday night, Napoli owner Aurelio de Laurentiis made one of his own. His wish? ‘That Napoli win against Athletic.’ No Italian team had ever claimed victory at San Mames but Napoli coach Rafa Benitez was defiant before the game: ‘We aren’t here to be the victim,’ he said on the eve of the game, which began with the two sides level 1-1 on aggregate.” ESPN

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

Transfer Target: Who Will Rescue Mateo Kovacic from Inter Milan?

March 12, 2014

“As one would imagine, memories of the 1998 World Cup run deep in Croatia. Still very much a new nation then, only a few years after having gained its independence from Yugoslavia in a bloody war, the country had little to show for and football became its best promotional tool. The national team dazzled the world with an exuberant display in its maiden appearance at the tournament, wearing psychedelic red and white checkers and at times squeezing three exceptionally gifted playmakers into the lineup. As Croatia marched to third place in France, Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki and Aljosa Asanovic became known as its ‘magic triangle’.” Bleacher Report (Video)

Fiorentina 1-2 Inter: Palacio’s positional variation crucial in Inter victory

February 19, 2014

“Fifth-placed Inter won at fourth-placed Fiorentina, cutting the game between them to five points. Vincenzo Montella was still without Giuseppe Rossi and a host of defenders, with star midfielder Borja Valero suspended. Mario Gomez was fit enough to be on the bench, however, after a few months out – Joaquin and Josip Ilicic were upfront form the start. Walter Mazzarri named an unchanged side from last weekend’s 1-0 win over Sassuolo. Inter were the better side here – more organised without the ball and more purposeful with possession.” Zonal Marking

The 54 Club – Italy

December 29, 2013

“As usual my parents escaped England for Christmas, thus shirking any festive responsibilities, and 2012 saw them wintering in Rome. Taking up their kind offer to join them I deliberately arrived late in December with the aim of fulfilling the dream of every child who grew up watching James Richardson sip coffee and hold the Gazetta Dello Sport aloft outside the Pantheon, watching some live calcio. With the winter break arriving I expected my options to be limited and would have been quite content to seeing one of the Roman teams play a basement dweller but luck was on my side and Roma had a home fixture against my childhood sweetheart, AC Milan.” Back Page Football

Napoli 4-2 Inter Milan: Tactical Analysis | Benitez counters Mazzarri

December 17, 2013

“Napoli came in to this match after suffering a heartbreak exit from the Champions League, despite winning 2-0 against the in form Gunners and amassing a total of 12 points in the group stage, which included a victory over Napoli. Rafa Benitez’s men were now relegated to the Europa League had the task of making the most of their league campaign in order to play Champions League football again next year. A 3-3 draw last match day against Udinese saw Juventus and Roma pull away at the top. Inter Milan started the game four points behind Napoli. After three consecutive draws (Bologna, Sampdoria and Parma) in the league, Inter look to close the gap and give Napoli a fight for their much yearned Champions League spot. With Fiorentina leapfrogging in front of them after a 3-0 victory against Bologna earlier that day, three points against Napoli was massively crucial for Walter Mazzarri’s men.” Outside of the Boot

AC Milan Crisis: What next for the Rossoneri?

December 7, 2013

“While teams like Juventus, Roma, Napoli were racking up points to fight it out for the title, Milan were sliding downhill, drawing and losing to teams they would have annihilated a few years back. Champions in 2010-11, Milan were flirting with the relegation zone as they had slumped to a lowly 13th in the table just 4 points off the dreaded drop zone and a massive 20 points off the table toppers, Juventus. Things were fairly quiet and subdued at the Via Turati in the summer; somewhat a relief after last seasons mass exodus with Filippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta et al putting their keys to their San Siro lockers on the table one by one.” Outside of the Boot

Inter 0-3 Roma: Totti drags Inter’s back three out of shape to prompt quick attacks

October 9, 2013

“Roma maintained their 100% record with a win at previously unbeaten Inter. Walter Mazzarri made two changes from the 1-1 draw at Cagliari, bringing in Saphir Taider and Rodrigo Palacio for Mateo Kovacic and Ishak Belfodil. Predictably, Rudi Garcia kept exactly the same side which demolished Bologna 5-0. This was another superb Roma display – and although their 3-0 half-time lead was slightly flattering, they played some sparkling football at times.” Zonal Marking

Inter 1-1 Juventus: Tactical Analysis

September 16, 2013

“Inter and Juventus went head to head in an enthralling clash on Saturday. The Derby D’ Italia, as it is labelled, is one of the biggest football fixtures in Italy. However, a vast gulf in class has developed between the two over the past few seasons as Juventus have taken a lead of their rivals. But the match itself is one that doesn’t disappoint. As the latest clash bears witness, it showed how Italian football has developed over the past few season, completely removing it’s ‘boring’ tag. The game was a fast paced clash, with both sides equally effective in their own rights. The gulf in class wasn’t as visible as both sides managed to hold their own. Juventus did seem to create more but Inter effectively began to soak in the pressure and use it to their advantage on the counter. The final result of Inter 1-1 Juventus seemed a fair reflection of the game as neither side managed to gain the upper hand for a prolonged period of time.” Outside Of Football

Statistical Infographic: Inter vs Juve

September 14, 2013

“The first international break of the season has finally ended, and a return to club football beckons for the best footballers across the planet. The first 3 games of the season saw some lukewarm performances from most of the giants, but now that World Cup qualification is sealed for many of the players, and the season is well under way, we should see the intensity being upped. The return of club football has been marked by the return of one of the fiercest rivalries across football, and especially in the Serie A- the Derby D’ Italia. Aside from being 2 of the 3 most successful sides in the peninsula, the rivalry that Inter and Juve share is about much more than just trophies.” Outside of the Boot

No more bickering as Supercoppa awaits

August 17, 2013

“The Italian Supercoppa is traditionally a competitive curtain-raiser to the Italian season, although the actual scheduling of the event this year roused more resentment between its two protagonists than can be expected at the Stadio Olimpico this Sunday. When Juventus and Lazio take to the field in Rome, most of the battle will have already been won and lost after months of off-field debating. The Italian Football League, Lega Calcio, stipulated an agreement with China in 2010 that formalised plans for three of the subsequent four editions of the Supercoppa to be staged in Beijing.” ESPN

Serie A’s battle for third down to Milan, Fiorentina

May 3, 2013

“OK, hands up, who remembers Serie A? After a fortnight where the major talking point has been the Bundesliga’s dominance over La Liga — with the Premier League chipping in with some end-of-season awards — Italian football has taken a backseat. It’s a position Italy has increasingly become accustomed to. Once revered as the finest league in Europe, there’s still much to recommend Serie A — but the UEFA coefficients now firmly rank it as the fourth-best league in Europe. Serie A boasts no semifinalists in either the Champions League or the Europa League, and it has featured an exciting title fight. Juventus have been on course for the title throughout the campaign, effectively ending the contest with their 1-1 draw away at closest challengers Napoli, who will finish second. Attention has turned to the battle for third.” ESPN – Michael Cox

The story behind the ups at downs at ‘crazy’ Inter

March 15, 2013

“Andrea Stramaccioni’s phone is vibrating. The Inter coach fumbles around his pockets for it. Caller ID reveals that club president Massimo Moratti is on the line. You’d maybe expect there to be some trepidation. All week, Stramaccioni had read in the papers, seen on the TV and heard on the radio that Moratti was apparently considering sacking him if Inter didn’t improve in the second leg of their Europa League tie with Tottenham on Thursday and their trip to Sampdoria on Sunday.” ESPN (Video)

Inter 1-1 Milan: Milan should have been out of sight by half-time

February 26, 2013

“Inter upped their performance after a terrible first-half display. Andrea Stramaccioni gave a rare start to Ricky Alvarez on the left, after his impressive performance against Cluj in midweek. Diego Milito is out for the season, so Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio started upfront together. Max Allegri made changes from the victory over Barcelona – Mario Balotelli, cup-tied in Europe, returned in place of Giampaolo Pazzini, while Riccardo Montolivo played in Massimo Ambrosini’s deep-lying role to allow Antonio Nocerino to play. Stramaccioni managed to alter things to get his side back into the game, but only Milan profligacy and another fine Samir Handanovic performance prevented the ‘away’ side from victory.” Zonal Markind

Why Serie A has fallen out of love with the number ten

January 23, 2013

“Sunday night’s meeting between Roma and Inter was an underwhelming match. Despite being the most enticing fixture on paper of the Serie A weekend, the match drifted away after an exciting first 20 minutes, and ended as a scrappy 1-1 draw. However, the pattern of the game was interesting — it was played at a relatively slow tempo, interrupted by the occasional burst of sudden, end-to-end attacking. As both sides attempted to bypass the opposition defence quickly after half-time, the linesmen played as crucial a role as some of the players — there were 11 second-half offsides.” ESPN – Michael Cox

Inter 2-1 Napoli: Cassano & Insigne the key men but Guarin provides the most important contributions

December 12, 2012

“Inter leapfrogged Napoli and into second place in Serie A. Andrea Stramaccioni was without Walter Samuel, so moved Esteban Cambiasso into the centre of defence. Walter Mazzarri brought Christian Maggio back into the starting line-up, but otherwise named an unchanged side. This was a good, open game of football – Inter stormed into a 2-0 lead and although Napoli fought back, they couldn’t quite find an equaliser, partly thanks to some fine Inter defending.” Zonal Marking

Milan clubs suffer, perfect starts ended

September 24, 2012

“The writing appears to be on the wall for AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri as his side suffered a third defeat in four Serie A games, a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Udinese. The beleaguered Rossoneri boss has spent the last fortnight deflecting speculation his job is under threat and will now face more tough questions should he remain in charge at the San Siro.” ESPN (Video)

Inter 1-3 Roma: Zeman collects the first win of his second spell at Roma

September 4, 2012

“An extremely open game finished with Roma on top. Andrea Stramaccioni surprisingly used new signing Alvaro Pereira on the left of his central midfield three in place of Esteban Cambiasso – otherwise, the XI was the same as in the 3-0 win over Pescara last week. Zdenek Zeman gave debuts to Panagiotis Tachtsidis, Alessandro Florenzi and Mattia Destro within his standard attack-minded 4-3-3 system. As with all games involving a Zeman side, this was very open with space all over the pitch, despite both sides trying to play with a high defensive line.” Zonal Marking

Trading places: Cassano and Pazzini

August 23, 2012

Antonio Cassano
“When assessing how realistic a transfer rumor is, you can be fairly confident that any mooted ‘exchange’ deal won’t happen, especially when big-name players are involved. They’re often touted, but they rarely happen. Therefore, it’s particularly exciting when an exchange does take place. Samuel Eto’o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic swapping clubs three years ago was an astonishing transfer. The consensus was that Inter Milan had got themselves a great deal.” ESPN – Michael Cox

Juventus must fight the right fight

August 10, 2012

“Fresh from completing an undefeated title-winning campaign, Juventus seemed to have finally put the horrors of 2006 and the Calciopoli scandal behind them. The club is under a completely new management structure, starting with president Andrea Agnelli – son of Umberto and nephew of the iconic Gianni – through to director general Beppe Marotta and ultimately ending with coach Antonio Conte, separating themselves further still from the murky behaviour of Luciano Moggi and his cohorts.” ESPN

Inter 4-2 Milan: Inter build up play down the left, then spread it to the right

May 8, 2012

“This was a rather eventful Milan derby – not only were there six goals (including three penalties), but the result confirmed Juventus as Serie A champions. The game was frantic, open and often lacking any kind of shape or structure, which was completely unexpected when the line-ups were announced – it set to be a battle of two narrow, functional 4-3-1-2s.” Zonal Marking

The hate-filled Derby of Italy

March 25, 2012

“Recent weeks and months have seen a real deterioration in the previously cordial relationship between this season’s leading protagonists in Serie A: Milan and Juventus. The two most successful clubs on the peninsula have descended into a petty back-and-forth squabble that leaves neither looking particularly dignified and both in danger of turning what should be a truly engaging title race into an Italian version of the Spanish clasico, the histrionics of which spoil what is undoubtedly one of the world football’s most prestigious encounters.” ESPN

Inter’s Treble Was the End, Not the Beginning

March 11, 2012

“Beleaguered Inter Milan dragged themselves back from another near disastrous defeat at home on Sunday. Diego Milito this time was charged with pulling the game level against Catania. They had been two goals down but the comeback tasted as bitter as a defeat due to the performance once again screaming of inadequacy.” In Bed With Maradona

Marseille 1-0 Inter: Marseille finally get the breakthrough with their 44th cross of the match

February 25, 2012

“Andre Ayew pounced in stoppage time, and Marseille will take a one goal lead to Inter. Didier Deschamps was without top scorer Loic Remy, so Brandao was upfront. In midfield, Benoit Cheyrou started rather than Charles Kaboré. Claudio Ranieri made the fitness-related decision to omit Diego Milito, and instead play Diego Forlan and Mauro Zarate – otherwise, the side was as expected. A strange game here – Inter looked in control midway through the second half, but then increasingly invited pressure. 0-0 was probably a better reflection of the balance of play.” Zonal Marking

Marseille 1-0 Inter: Marseille finally get the breakthrough with their 44th cross of the match

February 23, 2012

“Andre Ayew pounced in stoppage time, and Marseille will take a one goal lead to Inter. Didier Deschamps was without top scorer Loic Remy, so Brandao was upfront. In midfield, Benoit Cheyrou started rather than Charles Kaboré. Claudio Ranieri made the fitness-related decision to omit Diego Milito, and instead play Diego Forlan and Mauro Zarate – otherwise, the side was as expected. A strange game here – Inter looked in control midway through the second half, but then increasingly invited pressure. 0-0 was probably a better reflection of the balance of play.” Zonal Marking

Milan 0-1 Inter: Inter sit deep and counter

January 16, 2012

“Diego Milito scored the only goal of the game, and Inter are back in the title race. Max Allegri named Pato upfront rather than Robinho, and chose both Urby Emanuelson and Antonio Nocerino in the midfield diamond. Claudio Ranieri’s line-up was as expected, with Wesley Sneijder on the bench, and Ricky Alvarez in the side. Inter were submissive but disciplined, and were far more tactically astute.” Zonal Marking

AC Milan 0 – 1 Internazionale
“Inter Milan denied their neighbours AC Milan a place at the top of Serie A and threw their own hat into the ring for the Scudetto in the process with a 1-0 win at the San Siro. A goal from Diego Milito in the 54th minute was enough to earn the visitors all three points and take them to within six points of the Serie A summit and just five of their city rivals. Inter had a goal disallowed early on while Milan failed to make their territorial supremacy count as their attack proved too blunt.” ESPN

Inter Stays Hot, Takes Milan Derby, 1-0 Advertisement
ESPN (Video)

Money’s Too Tight To Mention At Inter

December 9, 2011

“It’s fair to say that Inter have had better starts to the season. Although they qualified from the Champions League group stage with a game to spare, they currently languish in 16th place in Serie A. Admittedly they have a game in hand, but they are still a colossal 14 points behind league leaders Juventus with a third of the season gone. The triumphant 2009/10 season when the nerazzurri became the first Italian team to win the treble of the scudetto, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League in a single year under the guidance of José Mourinho seems a distant memory. Inter fans have become accustomed to success, as that triumph meant that their team had won five league titles in a row (including the one awarded to them for 2005/06 by the courts after the calciopoli scandal).” Swiss Ramble

World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, November 25th, 2011

November 26, 2011

“Milan have opened talks with Carlos Tevez’s advisors about a January move for the Manchester City striker. At present, there have been no direct talks between City and Milan over the transfer as Tevez’s advisor first seeks to broker a deal with the Italian champions. Although negotiations are at an early stage, it’s understood that both parties have reached agreement on a couple of significant issues that have stalled his career at City: Tevez will not leave the country when Milan have a game scheduled and, provided he’s in the mood for it, the Argentinian has even deigned to play football when asked to do so by his coach.” World Soccer (Video)

Premier League’s best struggle in Champions League group stage

November 26, 2011

Franck Ribéry
“Twelve Champions League thoughts from Round 5 of the Group Stage…” SI

Tactics: the formation that cost Inter coach his job

November 2, 2011

“A 3-1 defeat at promoted Novara brought a swift end to Gian Piero Gasperini’s three-month reign as coach of Internazionale, and the day after he was sacked the 53-year-old was in belligerent mood. ‘I know that results determine everything,’ he said. ‘Inter knew that my system was 3-4-3. It is not that I do not know another system, but I believe that with this one the team I coach play better. I explained this to Inter’s chiefs three times when I spoke with them. I believe that the controversy about the formation was used as an excuse [to sack me]. If Inter did not believe in my work, why did they sign me?’” World Soccer – Jonathan Wilson

Three main problems for Inter in 2-1 home loss to Juventus

October 31, 2011

Gian Piero Gasperini
“This was another amazingly open match – all the goals came in the first half. Juventus move top of the table. The away side weren’t completely dominant. Their first goal came against the run of play as Inter started strongly, but Juve had plenty of opportunities and for a brief spell midway through the first half, they were able to open up the Inter defence at will. Claudio Ranieri’s side lacked compactness and their defence still seems to be recovering from the early season experiment with a back three under Gian Piero Gasperini – their positioning is frequently poor despite the return to their favoured four-man defence. Lucio seems uncomfortable on the turn and Cristian Chivu isn’t a great partner for him, whilst he full-backs are both stronger going forward than they are defensively.” Zonal Marking

Internazionale 1 – 2 Juventus
“Juventus retained their two-point advantage at the top of Serie A and piled even more misery on Claudio Ranieri’s Inter Milan with a win at the San Siro tonight. Mirko Vucinic put the Bianconeri in front in the 12th minute, but Maicon levelled for the hosts in the 28th minute. Claudio Marchisio restored Juve’s advantage in the 33rd minute and he was unlucky not to earn a penalty just before half-time.” ESPN

Boateng inspires Milan comeback

October 23, 2011

“Substitute Kevin-Prince Boateng inspired AC Milan to a thrilling 4-3 comeback victory in Lecce with a second-half hat-trick for the visitors. Guillermo Giacomazzi, Massimo Oddo and Carlos Grossmuller established a 3-0 lead for the home side by half-time, but Boateng sprang from the bench to score three goals in 14 minutes to bring Milan level.” ESPN

Inter turns to Ranieri after 3-4-3 disaster

September 22, 2011

“It says a lot about Inter president Massimo Moratti that, despite giving Gian Piero Gasperini only five games as coach, you could see the sacking coming a few weeks ago. This is a man who has now appointed 16 coaches in 16 years. Then again, it says a lot about Gasperini that despite being given no time to settle into the job, it’s rather difficult to defend him. This is a man who guided Inter to four defeats and a goalless draw in five games, an abysmal record for a side expected to be challenging for Lo Scudetto. No one comes out of this looking good, and it is a five-game spell that both president and coach would be happy to erase from the record books.” ESPN

Napoli 3-1 Milan: Counter-attack and Cavani hat-trick

September 20, 2011

Vittore Carpaccio – The Baptism of the Selenites
“Hat-trick specialist Edinson Cavani bagged another as Napoli confirmed their title potential. Walter Mazzarri played what his strongest XI – Andrea Dossena came in for Juan Zuniga from the side that drew with Manchester City. Max Allegri has something of an injury crisis, summed up by an extremely inexperienced bench. Daniele Bonera played at left-back, and Antonio Cassano partnered Pato upfront. Milan took the lead through a superb Alberto Aquilani header, but the pattern of the game was this: Milan get possession, run out of ideas in the final third, Napoli win the ball, break quickly, and score.” Zonal Marking

PSV 2-2 Ajax: PSV press, Ajax fight back
“PSV twice took the lead by exploiting a clear weakness in the Ajax defence, but the away side managed to claim a point. Fred Rutton made two changes from PSV’s previous league game. Wilfred Bouma and Zakaria Labyad dropped out, with Timothy Derijck and Tim Matavz coming in. Frank de Boer was without Miralem Sulejmani and chose to bring Vurnon Anita into the side as the holding player. This match was open and entertaining, largely because there were two attack-minded midfields who wanted to play the ball rather than win it back.” Zonal Marking

Rubin 2-3 Zenit: Rubin blow a two-goal lead thanks to Spalletti’s Plan B
“Danny scored twice to give Zenit St Petersburg an important win over Rubin Kazan. Kurban Berdyev changed things around after the previous week’s defeat to FC Krasnodar, with Obafemi Martins and Nelson Valdez both dropping out. In came Vladimir Dyadyun upfront, with Gokdeniz Karadeniz on the right. Luciano Spalletti made widespread changes after an embarrassing collapse against Lokomotiv Moscow, with four players coming into the defence and midfield, though the forward trio remained the same.” Zonal Marking

Inter 0-0 Roma: interesting in theory, but not on the pitch

September 18, 2011

“Two sides lacking confidence contested a fairly tame 0-0 draw in Milan. Gian Piero Gasperini reverted to a three-man defence, but went with 3-4-1-2, as expected, rather than his favoured 3-4-3. Joel Obi came in on the left, and Wesley Sneijder was the number ten. Luis Enrique stuck with his preferred 4-3-3, but made a surprise decision to start two midfielders at full-back – Rodrigo Taddei on the left, Simone Perrotta on the right.” Zonal Marking

Palermo 4-3 Inter: Gasperini’s 3-4-3 exposed

September 12, 2011

Josep Ilicic
“Palermo produced a great second half display to edge a thriller. Devis Mangia, Palermo’s new(est) coach, used a standard 4-4-2 system, a world away from the 4-3-2-1 that the club used last season. Josep Ilicic started out on the left, and Giulio Migliaccio played at centre-back. Gian Piero Gasperini used his favoured 3-4-3 system, which meant Javier Zanetti in an unusual centre-back role, Jonathan making his debut on the right, plus newcomers Mauro Zarate and Diego Forlan in the wide forward positions. Wesley Sneijder started on the bench.” Zonal Marking

Palermo 4 – 3 Internazionale
“Palermo struck twice late in the game to stun Inter Milan 4-3 in their Serie A opener at Stadio Renzo Barbera on Sunday night. With the game tied 2-2 with five minutes remaining, Fabrizio Miccoli put the hosts in front with a superb free-kick before substitute Mauricio Pinilla made it 4-2 two minutes from time. New Inter striker Diego Forlan reduced the deficit deep in stoppage time but Palermo held on for victory. Diego Milito had put the visitors ahead in the 33rd minute before Miccoli equalised shortly after the re-start.” ESPN

Serie A transfer window verdict

September 9, 2011

“Inter Milan. President Massimo Moratti has once again been cautious with the chequebook. Selling Samuel Eto’o makes much sense from a financial standpoint while the arrival of Diego Forlan seems to be more smart business. The same cannot be said for Mauro Zarate and the lack of investment looks risky, although adding talented young midfielder Andrea Poli is an incredibly smart move. Retaining the services of Wesley Sneijder may prove their best piece of business.” ESPN

Serie A 2011-12 season preview

August 26, 2011

“And so the new Serie A season is upon us. Or rather it isn’t. After the league’s owners and its players failed to reach an agreement, it was confirmed on Friday morning that the scheduled first weekend of the season will be lost to strike action. How far things could go is anybody’s guess.” Guardian

Italy preview: the usual suspects of debt, match-fixing, scandal

August 22, 2011

“As we set off for the new season, it is again a case of rounding up a number of the usual suspects in the shape of polemics, a betting scandal and hardy annuals such as Totti and Juve’s Alessandro Del Piero. One new element in the Italian firmament this season, however, will be an American-owned Roma for which Baldini has been recruited as an experienced guide. As he assesses his return to an Italian football world he left six years ago, Baldini underlines some uncomfortable home truths about the contemporary Italian scene.” World Soccer

Serie A clubs build to take on champions AC Milan

August 16, 2011

“Italian football has experienced a summer of new and old scandals, of threatened player strikes (again) and a transfer market so far more notable for its departures than arrivals. Champions Milan have enjoyed a happier pre-season than in recent years: coach Massimiliano Allegri has just signed an improved contract and, while vice-president Adriano Galliani’s constant talk suggesting the imminent arrival of a ‘Mr X’ has been somewhat self-defeating, reinforcements for the back four (Philippe Mexès in the centre, Taye Taiwo on the left) bode well.” WSC

Milan 2-1 Inter: Gasperini’s 3-5-1-1 dominates first half, but needless switches see him beaten

August 10, 2011

“Inter were 1-0 up at half time but managed to lose 2-1, after a strange tactical change from their new boss Gian Piero Gasperini. Gasperini was widely expected to bring his favoured 3-4-3 to Inter, but for this match he started with a 3-5-1-1, with new signing Ricardo Alvarez breaking forward from the left of midfield to form a lopsided front three. Max Allegri played the same 4-3-1-2 he favoured last season. In fact, with the exception of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in place of Pato, it was the same XI that started the previous derby. This was, of course, a game of two halves – the only question was why Inter relinquished their dominance from the opening period.” Zonal Marking

Tuesday tit-bits: A Roman Affair

July 29, 2011

“Sharing is good, because it breeds a pleasant atmosphere. So with that in mind, here are some things I’ve been reading this week that you might like to take a look at. Kicking things off with A.S. Roma fan, Di Elle, who has translated (with some help) an interview with Franco Baldini. The current England general manager is in the frame to take on a role at the capital club and some interesting comments were made regarding the future running of the club – and in particular with regard to Francesco Totti’s position in the Roman hierarchy.” The Football Express

Just Football: Serie A 2010-11 Team of the Season

June 6, 2011

“With the 2010/11 Serie A season now complete and Internazionale Coppa Italia winners, time for the obligatory team of the season. Naturally, champions Milan are the most represented team in the main XI, with three players. The midfield area, however, contains choices from teams outside the top three in Italy this season.” Just FootBall

The 50 greatest European club sides

June 2, 2011

“Alex Ferguson was left in no doubt. ‘In my time as a manager I would say yes, this is the best team I’ve faced.’ But then, on Saturday night at Wembley, the Manchester United manager wasn’t exactly analysing the issue with the most detached viewpoint. His team had just been utterly dismantled by Barcelona. And as he gets closer to the end of his career, it was a performance that will probably leave as deep an impression as that of Real Madrid at Hampden Park near the start of it in 1960.” The Football Pantheon