When Andriy Shevchenko’s move to Chelsea failed under Jose Mourinho

April 20, 2020


“To many Andriy Shevchenko was one of the best strikers in the first decade of the 21st century. His career spanned a host of big clubs, where he scored a lot of goals for them. While he’s now the manager of the Ukrainian national team and qualified them for the Euros, he isn’t quite renowned as a manager yet. His playing days might be well behind him, but he is still well-remembered for that. His best spell came before he came into the bigger spotlight. Dynamo Kiev was the place where he first broke onto the scene. Having initially played for the Reserves side, his goalscoring exploits saw him rise through the ranks and later earn a big move to Milan in the summer of 1999. …”
Football Pink


Claudio Marchisio, Andres Iniesta and football fans’ false memories

September 4, 2018

“This month marked the end of an era for Juventus, with former midfield general Claudio Marchisio ending his 25-year association with the club. ‘A thousand thoughts and a thousand images accompanied me throughout the night,’ the 32-year-old wrote of his decision to part ways with the club he joined as a child. Marchisio’s exit might have been overshadowed to a degree by Gianluigi Buffon also leaving Turin this summer, the World Cup winner having opted to see out his career with Paris Saint-Germain, but there’s something a little different about the departure of a man who has known no other home in his professional career.” The Set Pieces


Ronaldo’s wait for a goal continues as Juventus edge past Lazio

August 26, 2018

“TURIN, Italy — Along with the iconic Mole Antonelliana, Cristiano Ronaldo can see the tricolour dappled pylons of the Allianz Stadium from the balcony of his hillside “mega villa” overlooking Turin. Ever since the 33-year-old moved in, Juventus fans in the city below have been in reverential awe of him as if the green slopes behind the Gran Madre church were Piedmont’s own Mount Olympus; the home of a god, not a footballer.” ESPN


Grounds for closer inspection, part 10: Genoa and Milan

August 22, 2018

“The 1986 FIFA World Cup was supposed to be held in Colombia. In late 1982, the prospective host withdrew from its commitment, citing ‘economic difficulties’ (read as asymmetric internal armed conflict) and Mexico was awarded the privilege in their place. From the perspective of the sport, the tournament went on to be a great success – the collected images of Diego Maradona are some of the most iconic of the sport – but it’s been said that the physical infrastructure was found wanting.” Football Pink


Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli: Tactical Approach & Key Players

August 18, 2018


“After three intense seasons in the Southern part of Italy, the love story between Maurizio Sarri & Napoli came to an end: despite the fact that they didn’t win any trophies (they eventually lost last season’s Serie A title race to Juventus despite racking up 91 points at the end of the campaign) under his tenure, Sarri built one of Europe’s most exciting teams to watch, using a 4-3-3 formation with a possession-based and attacking style of football. Despite losing the Tuscany-born coach this summer, the Partenopei found a rather decent substitute in the figure of Carlo Ancelotti.” Outside of the Boot


Mohamad Salah Stands Tall, but Liverpool Cracks Door for Roma

April 29, 2018

“LIVERPOOL, England — Of all the teams Mohamed Salah has claimed as his victims this season, of all the defenses Liverpool’s irrepressible striker has shredded, A.S. Roma had a head start. After all, Salah spent two years in the Italian capital before moving to England. He trained alongside Roma’s defenders every day, played alongside them every week. When they came face to face with Salah in the first leg of a Champions League semifinal at Anfield on Tuesday night, they would know all of his tics and his tells, his flaws and his foibles. …” NY Times


Will Carlo Ancelotti be Italy’s next manager?

April 29, 2018

“The deadline the FIGC gave for the announcement of the new Italy manager is fast approaching. Billy Costacurta, one of commissioner Roberto Fabbricini’s deputies, promised Giampiero Ventura’s permanent successor would be in place by May 20.  His former teammate and manager, Carlo Ancelotti, has always been the frontrunner. The last elected FIGC president, Carlo Tavecchio wanted him in situ immediately after Sweden qualified for this summer’s World Cup at Italy’s expense. …” Investobet


Serie A title race back on a knife-edge ahead of Napoli at Juventus Sunday

April 25, 2018


“A bicycle kick is called a rovesciata in Italian. Taken literally it can mean reversed. After all, you’re scoring with your back to goal. But the best way to look at it is upside down. The bicycle kick Simy scored to get relegation battling Crotone a point against Juventus on Wednesday night did exactly that to Serie A. It turned a title race many considered completely over on its head. Juventus started the night six points clear of Napoli. Twice, over the course of a remarkable evening, they found themselves nine points ahead of them. …” ESPN


Roma send Barcelona out of Champions League: ‘Debacle’, ‘ridicule’, ‘fall of an empire’

April 13, 2018

“There is certainly a consensus among the Spanish media: Barcelona got what they deserved in Rome on Tuesday night, suffering elimination from the Champions League at the quarter-final stage for the third consecutive season after an abject performance. Having a 4-1 first-leg lead overturned by a Roma team 21 points off the pace in Serie A was the last thing Barca expected, and it will take a while for reality to sink in as the Catalan giants come to terms with one of the most shocking results in the club’s recent history. …” BBC


Bayern: The Invisible Giants

April 13, 2018

“Sports Burst knows exactly how it feels to be overlooked, ignored and underappreciated for its greatness. After all, it looks at its readership stats every day. Basically, the column is Bayern Munich this week. While the world was clucking and fretting over the demise of Manchester City, Barcelona and Juventus in the Champions League and oozing over Liverpool and Real Madrid, the Germans did their thang by qualifying for the final four of Europe’s top club competition, without anyone really noticing. …” BeinSports (Video)


Juventus’ Near Miracle Against Real Madrid Ends in Controversy

April 13, 2018

“MADRID — Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus’s veteran goalkeeper, has lived through all the highs and lows of soccer, from winning the World Cup with Italy to getting relegated with his club because of a match-fixing scandal. But even by such standards, his exit from the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night will rank as one the most dramatic events in his career. In the dying moments of the game, Buffon was shown a red card for angrily protesting a penalty that allowed Real Madrid to advance to the semifinals of the competition. …” NY Times


Barcelona’s Piqué and Suárez rub it in after Roma’s own-goal gifts

April 5, 2018

“Roma scored three at the Camp Nou but their chances of reaching a first Champions League semi-final since 1984 are slim. This time it was not Lionel Messi who scored and while Luis Suárez ended his year-long wait for a Champions League goal, it was two own goals that set Barcelona on course for a first-leg victory. …” Guardian


Champions League quarter-finals: tie-by-tie analysis

March 18, 2018


“We run the rule over the last-eight matches, including the all-Premier League duel between Liverpool and Manchester City, and predict who will triumph …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Great Reputations – Torino 1940s

March 13, 2018

“Torino’s first successful period was built on the back of the Cinzano empire, winning Serie A in 1928 with an expensive and exciting team. A decade or so later, Torino were taken over by Ferruccio Novo, an industrialist with a taste for sport. Novo took the advice of the great Vittorio Pozzo, who had won two World Cups with Italy, and brought a team of people he could trust to the club. His technical adviser was Ernest Erbstein, a Hungarian Jew who survived the holocaust. Antonio Jani and Mario Spur had the experience of winning Serie A in 1928, while a Brit, Leslie Lievesley, was named youth coach. …” Football Pink


Massimiliano Allegri, Mauricio Pochettino and an Italian tale that has taken Juventus to new heights

February 13, 2018


“Shortly after a power struggle at AC Milan between Barbara Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani ended with his dismissal, Massimiliano Allegri boarded a plane to London. He took in some Premier League games, ate at Novikov, learned a bit of English. It was time to broaden his horizons. Prepare for the next chapter of his career.  …” Independent


Milan misery intensifies amid defeats, finance questions and ‘moral violence’

December 21, 2017

“You could not blame Milan fans for enjoying a moment of schadenfreude. They had endured abundant humiliations already this season, from the 4-1 mauling at Lazio through to the last-gasp draw against pointless Benevento. It was time for somebody else to suffer. Better yet that it should be their neighbours, Inter, who had begun the weekend top of the table. …” Guardian


Serie A gets a title race but Juventus remain the team to beat

December 6, 2017

“Before last Friday night’s clash with then league leaders Napoli, Massimiliano Allegri had insisted that despite his side being four points off the pace, they were not in trouble. Juventus’ 1-0 win at the Sao Paolo, a ground where they have only won one of their previous 13 fixtures, served to nicely underline the point. Gonzalo Higuain’s 12th minute strike inflicted a first defeat of the season on their flying hosts, indeed their first home defeat since February. …” Back Page


Tactical Analysis: Barcelona 2-1 Sevilla | Barca’s diamond-esque shape hands them victory

November 21, 2017

“Despite being written off by many this season after the loss of Neymar and rivals Real Madrid’s dominance last season, Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona side came into this game at home to Champions League chasing Sevilla in inspired form. 9 wins from their opening 10 games and Lionel Messi in the form of his life had shut up many critics as they cruised towards their 3rd league title in 4 years with a 4 point lead over 2nd place Valencia and 8 points over bookies’ title favourites Real Madrid in 3rd. …” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis: Roma 3-0 Chelsea | Chelsea’s Possession Play Failed to Tear Down Roma’s Fortress

November 7, 2017

“… Roma fielded their usual 4-3-3. Alisson in goal, Florenzi and Kolarov as full backs, and Fazio-Juan Jesus duo in the central area. In midfield, de Rossi in the six space covered the moves of Nainggolan and Strootman, who were initially 8’s but had license to roam into the wide areas and center around 10 and 9. In the last line, Edin Dzeko was flanked by Perotti and El Shaarawy. …” Outside of the Boot


Paddy Agnew’s Notes from Italy: Napoli playing catch-up in the Champions League

October 31, 2017

“As the Champions League moves centre stage again this weekend, it is intriguing to note that of the three Italian clubs involved, it is the league leaders Napoli who may well have most to do to play their way into the second round. In their homeland, Napoli can do no wrong, having won 10 of their 11 Serie A games this season, drawing the other (10 days ago to Inter). …” World Soccer


Italian football must do more than read Anne Frank to tackle fascism problem

October 27, 2017

“27 October ~ With 25 points from their first ten games, Lazio have made a superb start to the season. Unfortunately, they may be derailed by events off the field. They have long been notorious for having a fanbase that contains a significant number who are openly nostalgic for fascism. Though they are probably the worst offenders, they share this tendency with several other clubs, most notably Serie B Ascoli, but also Verona and to some extent Inter. …” WSC


Tactical Analysis: Napoli 0-0 Inter Milan | Sarri’s Strong Attack And Counter-Press Against Spaletti’s Deep Block

October 23, 2017


“Luciano Spaletti’s initial plan of a low block was securing the 10 (by occupying Napoli’s 6), defended the defensive third using a 4-4-1-1/4-5-1 basic formation, and blocking Napoli’s use of the diagonal passing lane from the left half space into the box. Borja Valero, Inter’s number 10, would join the central midfield duo to secure the area around Inter Milan’s midfield line. …” Outside of the Boot


Edin Dzeko: ‘I don’t run? I don’t give my best? Come on! That is a joke’

October 18, 2017

“Edin Dzeko looks as if he wants to jump up from the chair. He is animated. His cheeks are red and he gesticulates wildly. … It is a moment that encapsulates what the Bosnia-Herzegovina striker is all about. He has been described as being indifferent and cold but when we meet in an empty hotel restaurant on the outskirts of Sarajevo he is neither. Instead he is extremely passionate about the game, more perhaps than any other player I have interviewed, and a man who realises how lucky he is to play football for a living. …” Guardian


Become an expert on the Serie A title race in 11 key stats

September 25, 2017


“The outspoken Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis made a salient point recently when he suggested Serie A is arguably Europe’s most competitive top-flight.No fewer than seven teams are capable of challenging for the championship, the movie producer suggested, when arguing his case to reduce the number of clubs from 20 to 16 feeling it would make the Italian top division even more competitive.” Squawka


Serie A 2016/2017: Half Season Review

January 19, 2017

“The first match-day of 2017 coincided with the conclusion of the first half of the 2016/2017 Serie A championship. Or, rather, it should have coincided, since the Italian Super Cup and the snow of this cold start of the year, mixed up the schedule with Juventus, AC Milan, Crotone, Bologna, Fiorentina and Pescara played a game less than the others did. The symbolic turning point of the season remains the best moment to make a partial appraisal of the championship and having fun making some predictions about the league outcomes.” Stats Bomb


Tactical Philosophy: Vincenzo Montella

January 4, 2017

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“Born in Castello di CisternaItaly, Montella has represented his country in 20 international games. He is nicknamed L’Aeroplanino, in reference to his small stature and trademark goal celebration, in which he spread his arms like wings. Montella began his managerial career as Roma’s caretaker manager in 2011, later coaching Catania the following season. In 2012, he moved to Fiorentina, where he spent three seasons, leading the club to three consecutive fourth-place league finishes, the 2014 Coppa Italia Final, and the UEFA Europa League semi-finals in 2015. Despite a successful stint at La Viola, he was sacked as he failed to reach the Champions League spots and he was accused of lack of respect shown to the Fiorentina powers. The following season he joined Sampdoria before going on to join Milan in 2016.” Outside of the Boot


Juventus 1-0 Roma | Leaders extend their lead at the top

December 27, 2016

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“After successfully seeing out Milan in Rome, Luciano Spalletti took his men to the home of defending champions. The two sides met in the top of the table clash which was expected to be the biggest game of the season so far. As Juventus looked to extend their lead at the top of the table, Roma wanted to close in on the deficit. Along with the three points, Juventus wanted the win badly since it would mark their 25th consecutive league win at home, a record which is already being held by them.” Outside of the Boot


Manchester City bounce back to leave Wenger fuming – Football Weekly

December 19, 2016

“It must be (nearly) Christmas, because on today’s Football Weekly, my true love sent to me AC Jimbo, Barry Glendenning, Paolo Bandini, and Barney Bloody Ronay! … We then brush aside the Premier League and turn our attention to Italy, where Juventus saw off Roma in a top o’ the table Serie A clash. Finally, we hear from our long lost pal Sid Lowe about Real Madrid’s victory in the World Club Cup final and the state of play in La Liga, which has downed tools until the new year. Rafa Honigstein will be with us for Thursday’s show, so if you have a question for the World’s Greatest Bavarian, post it on the blog below.” Guardian (Video)


AC Milan: The Rise of the Fallen Idols

December 15, 2016

“With 18 officially recognized UEFA & FIFA titles, AC Milan are the third most successful club in the world and the second most decorated club in Europe after Real Madrid, at least in terms of trophies won. Gradually all the cherishment of their accolades started to fade as things didn’t work out for the seven time Champions league winners in the past five years. When they won their seventh European Cup in 2007, Milan were five ahead of Barcelona and only two behind Real Madrid, but in the past nine years Real have extended their lead by two more and Barca have closed to within two of Europe’s second most successful club.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis: AS Roma 1-0 AC Milan | Chess match settled by Nainggolan

December 15, 2016

“You’d be forgiven for thinking that Monday night’s matchup between Serie A giants Roma and AC Milan was going to be the game of the season so far. The Stadio Olimpico played host to what promised to be a tantalizing affair between 2nd and 3rd place, both tied on points and both desperate to keep up with Juventus at the top of the table. Despite Milan’s impressive form heading into the game; one loss in their last twelve games in all competitions; their inexperience on the field without veteran Montolivo showed as they struggled to hold onto the ball and maintain pressure for any extended period of time.” Outside of the Boot


How a Scottish manager working in Wales ended up in charge of Juventus

December 12, 2016

“Matt Busby, Ally McCoist, Alex Neil and Lee McCulloch are just a few of the famous (and not so famous) footballers who have emerged from the small Scottish town of Bellshill. Sitting just 16km from the centre of Glasgow, Bellshill has produced more than its fair share of top level footballers given its modest population of just over 20,000. The town also gave us a football manager who went to Italy for one season and came home with a rather unfortunate record in the Turin derby.” Guardian


Inside Italy’s ultras: the dangerous fans who control the game

December 2, 2016

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“On 7 July this year, Raffaello Bucci’s body was found at the bottom of the so-called “viaduct of suicides”. Just a day before, he had been interviewed by police investigating links between football and organised crime. The viaduct is an impressive structure connecting Turin to Cuneo, a city 100km to the south, and south-eastern France. The arches carrying the dual-carriageway over the Stura di Demonte river are 45 metres high. It was on this same spot that Edoardo, only son of Gianni Agnelli (the late owner of Fiat and Juventus), ended his life in 2000.” Guardian


The death of possession football

November 18, 2016

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“Former Bayern Munich manager and current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, speaking after Bavarian side’s 5-1 triumph over Arsenal last season, was famously said: What I want, my desire, is to have one hundred percent possession. Bayern Munich had enjoyed sixty nine percent of possession in that game as goals from Robert Lewandowki, Thomas Muller, David Alaba and Arjen Robben gave Arsenal nightmares that probably suggested the extent of damage that possession football can usually do.” backpagefootball


Tactical Analysis: Juventus 1-1 Lyon | Allegri’s correct tactics aided by stellar strike duo

November 11, 2016

“Lyon came to the Juventus Stadium on Wednesday evening with their backs against the wall. They had played a decent match against the Italian side at home on Matchday Three, only to be stunned by Juan Cuadrado’s rasping winner. Gianluigi Buffon was the real hero of the match, though, and while Juventus did ride their luck at times a fortnight ago, this time around, manager Massimiliano Allegri seemed to have absorbed a lesson or two from the previous encounter. Having to settle for a draw was no doubt disappointing for the hosts, but facing a must-win match against Sevilla, the Bianconeri should take pride in the success of their adjustments.” Outside of the Boot


Are Sampaoli’s Sevilla ready to challenge?

November 2, 2016

“Before last Sunday’s clash between Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, Diego Simeone had suggested that his opponents could challenge for the title this season. ‘Mind games’ was the initial reaction. Put a little pressure on the home side who had begun the season encouragingly. The second thought was that Simeone was just being nice, bigging up his compatriot Jorge Sampaoli who succeeded Unai Emery at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán in the summer.” backpagefootball


Tactical Analysis: Juventus 2-1 Napoli | Juventus drag Napoli into a mud fight

October 31, 2016

“Serie A leaders Juventus hosted Napoli in this highly anticipated encounter. It was the first time Gonzalo Higuain played against his former team since his controversial transfer to Turin this summer. He scored the winning goal, and Juventus beat Napoli 2-1. Massimiliano Allegri’s side fielded a 3-5-2 formation. Because a win in the UCL encounter with Lyon will seal the qualification, Juventus rested Dani Alves, Claudio Marchisio, and Juan Cuadrado and replaced them with Andrea Barzagli, Hernanes, and Stephan Lichtsteiner.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis: AC Milan 1-0 Juventus | Juventus lose their intensity and 3 points

October 31, 2016

“Serie A leaders Juventus visited 2nd placed Milan in a packed San Siro Stadium in this early Saturday feature game. Milan beat Juventus by a single goal, closing Juventus’s lead to 2 points. Vincenzo Montella’s side fielded a 4-3-3 formation. The only notable change is Manuel Locatelli started in place of injured captain Riccardo Montolivo. Massimiliano Allegri played the usual 3-5-2 formation. The only significant change is Mehdi Benatia replaced Giorgio Chiellini as the left center back.” Outside of the Boot


Gonzalo Higuain’s “betrayal” adds fuel to Napoli’s fire as they visit Juventus

October 27, 2016

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“Carlos Tevez joined Juventus the same summer Gonzalo Higuain moved to Napoli. Inevitably it started a debate about who had got themselves the better striker. ‘A true Argentine doesn’t play in Turin!’ declared a banner welcoming Higuain to Naples. The implication was that by not following in the footsteps of Diego Maradona, Tevez could never be considered as such. Just try telling that to Juventini and the people of Fuerte Apache, the Buenos Aires barrio where he grew up.” ESPN (Video)


Tactical Analysis: Juventus 2-1 Udinese | Absentees force Juventus to seek balance

October 20, 2016

“With a series of injuries and to rest players to prepare for the upcoming UCL encounter against Lyon, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has fielded an experimental side with a hybrid system. Juventus used a standard 4-4-2 formation during the defensive phase with two full backs (Stephan Lichtsteiner / Patrice Evra) and two wide midfielders (Alex Sandro / Juan Cuadrado).” Outside of the Boot


Season Preview: Serie A 2016-17

October 16, 2016

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“With €155 million already spent this summer and another Serie A title in their sights, opposition fans will be praying for anything to stop the Old Lady of Juventus dominating another 12 months of domestic competition. Whether it be a Leicester-style upset or fairytale end to the career of Roma legend Francesco Totti, any side close to challenging the Bianconeri will probably receive widespread support throughout the Peninsula. However, while strengthening in preparation of Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morata’s departure to the Premier League and La Liga, Juventus have weakened their closest rivals, Napoli and Roma, with the capture of Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic.”
Forza Italian Football
World Soccer: Paddy Agnew’s preview of the 2016-17 Serie A season
Serie A 2016-17 season preview – Football Italia
2016-17 Serie A (Italy/1st division) location-map…


Hipster Guide 2016-17: Sevilla’s tactics, key players and emerging talents

September 1, 2016

“Sevilla made history last season by winning the UEFA Europa League for the third consecutive season and for the fifth time in the previous decade. Their comeback victory against Liverpool in Basel further proved that no team takes to UEFA’s second tier competition quite like Sevilla do, but as incredible an achievement as it was, it did paper over some cracks. Their Europa League run was born from the ashes of a failed attempt at the Champions League, only claiming third spot in their group with a last-gasp win against Juventus, and a 7th place finish in La Liga without a single win away from home was highly underwhelming for a team expected to challenge for 4th place.” Outside of the Boot


James Horncastle: A guide to Inter’s mess

August 23, 2016

“It was 3:45 in the morning in Nanjing when Inter kicked off their Serie A campaign on Sunday. The club’s new owner Jindong Zhang had promised to stay awake for it. ‘I will watch the game on television as will all the Suning staff as one big family,’ he wrote in a message wishing the team good luck for the new season. By 5am Zhang and his 13,000 employees could be forgiven for thinking they were asleep and in the grips of a nightmare. Except the nightmare was all too real.” calciomercato


Over/Under: European club, season predictions for 2016-17

August 20, 2016

“With the new top-flight seasons set to kick off in Italy and Spain this weekend–and Germany one week later–and the Premier League just underway, there are lots of predictions to be made and questions to be answered. Will the competitive imbalance in France, Germany and Italy continue to be a problem? Will we see a surprise winner in any league? Will there be an outsider who cracks the Champions League elite? And just who will Jose Mourinho fall out with next? With all of those questions–and more!–in mind, we take a look at the European club landscape in the over/under prism to provide as much clarity as possible entering a nine-month quest for trophies and championships…” SI


The New Manager Effect – Five Under the Radar European Managerial Changes to watch in 2016/17

July 30, 2016

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“The conclusion of the European football season, a time for fans to sit back and reflect on the season just passed for their club. To assess and debate whether or not it was a good, bad or merely average season. The owners and board members of clubs will also spend the summer months doing exactly the same thing, however, the one crucial difference is they must make a decision whether to continue with the incumbent manager or whether to make a change. For those that choose the latter option and make a change, there is no such thing as a summer break, negotiations and interviews remain ongoing until a suitable replacement has been found. Criteria is weighed up such as past success at clubs, experience, past performances at clubs counter-balanced alongside the financial situation said individuals inherited and whether or not a new inexperienced manager could add a breath of fresh air to a football club.” Outside of the Boot


Lazio Inches Closer to an Italian Soccer Title … From 1915

July 23, 2016

“Lazio is closing in on the Italian soccer championship. The championship of 1915. Prompted by a petition signed by 30,000 Lazio fans, a committee of the Italian soccer federation is set to recommend that Lazio be declared co-champions of a tournament that concluded more than 100 years ago.” NY Times


Pep, Mourinho, Simeone and more: Ranking world’s top 10 club managers

May 26, 2016

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“Just as the Champions League format has allowed an elite group of clubs to dominate in recent years, the coaching landscape, too, is overshadowed by the personalities of a revered few who are hired at a huge expense with the guarantee of trophies. The perfect example of that is in the Premier League, where all the attention is going to be on Manchester’s clubs City and United when next season kicks off, despite their recent fourth and fifth respective finishes in the league. City will have Pep Guardiola in charge, while United looks set to have Jose Mourinho. It’s a personal rivalry that dominated Spanish football when the pair locked horns during two controversy-laden years at Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively.” SI (Video)


Serie A 2015/2016: Final Review

May 26, 2016

“The 2015/2016 edition of Serie A had an unforeseen start and a wacky development, but still ended in the most predictable way, with pre-season favourites of Juventus clinching their 5th Scudetto in a row with 2 games to go. Allegri’s team had their worst start in history, collecting just 5 points in their first 6 games (1W-2D-3L, 6GF-7GA), and they were already considered doomed by most of the media and the public. While Juve continued to struggle accumulating a meagre 12 points tally after 10 games, four other teams led the league outright, a record for Serie A: in chronological order Inter, Fiorentina, Roma and Napoli.” Stats Bomb


Around Europe: Barcelona burnout; Ben Arfa makes his Euro case

April 12, 2016

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“There were decisive moments in the title race in England and Germany, as respective leaders Leicester City and Bayern Munich came closer to the finishing line, though a shock result in Spain has opened the door to the pack chasing defending champion Barcelona. A new coach with a familiar name enjoyed a successful start at Lazio, while in France, a new hat trick hero has given national team boss Didier Deschamps a selection dilemma leading into Euro 2016. Here is what caught our eye this week from Around Europe.” SI (Video)


‘Italian Mourinho’ Antonio Conte will be shock for Chelsea players after gentle Guus

April 4, 2016

“Mattia Destro’s first night of marital bliss ended with a 5am wake up call. He kissed his bride goodbye and left for Florence. Italy training awaited. ‘If it were down to me,’ Antonio Conte smiled, ‘he would have already been on his way back after cutting the cake.’ The Italy manager would cancel Christmas too if the rules allowed him to as his former Siena players will tell you. Second in Serie B at the time, they had lost to Varese in their last game before the winter break in 2010.” Telegraph (Video)


Uruguay legend Alvaro ‘El Chino ‘ Recoba bids farewell to football

April 1, 2016

“‘One last magic act.’ That’s how El Pais, Uruguay’s biggest newspaper, chose to headline their preview of Alvaro Recoba’s farewell match, which took place on Thursday night in the Gran Parque Central, a stadium he knew so well and lit up so frequently during his playing days with Nacional. Recoba debuted for Danubio back in 1994, but enjoyed his first successes — and his most recent ones too — with Nacional, where he became a club idol.” ESPN


Tactical Analysis: Bayern Munich 4-2 Juventus (AET) | Intense match decided on the wings

March 20, 2016

“After a dramatic 2-2 draw in the first leg, Juventus travel to the Allianz Arena in Germany to face Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League. The first leg ended 2-2 at the appropriately named Juventus Stadium following Pep Guardiola’s Bayern going into a 0-2 lead. Readjustments from Massimillano Allegri which saw the men from Turin adopt a more direct style for the latter stages causing Bayern’s makeshift centre-back pairing of Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba serious problems.” Outside of the Boot


The Downfall of Genoa

March 16, 2016

“From 1096 to 1797 the Republic of Genoa was one of the most powerful city-states in Italy and Europe. Alongside Venice, Pisa and Amalfi, it was one of the Maritime Republics, independent entities provided with a fleet of ships both for their own protection and to support their rich and extensive trade networks all over the Mediterranean Sea. During the 16th century Genoa flourished under the government of the admiral Andrea Doria (one of the two teams which in 1946 merged to form Sampdoria was named after him) but after reaching its peak the Republic fell in 1797, when Napoleone Bonaparte established the Ligurian Republic. In the 2014/2015 football season the region flourished much like it had in the 16th century: Genoa finished sixth on the table, with three points more than city rivals Sampdoria, who placed 7th but still qualified for the Europa League play-offs at the expense of the Rossoblu, who were denied a UEFA licence by the FIGC. Both Genoese teams outdid AC Milan and Inter Milan in the league table.” Stats Bomb


Vicenza Calcio – The Tumultuous Journey of one of Italy’s Oldest Clubs

March 16, 2016

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“Without question, the ‘Ballon D’Or’ is one of the most prestigious awards to be handed to an individual during his professional career. Awarded annually to the best individual footballer of that calendar year since 1956, past winners have included Zidane, Rivaldo, Platini and Cruyff, amongst countless others. Interestingly, only 5 Italians have ever won the award. Omar Sívori in 1961, Gianni Rivera in 1969, Paolo Rossi in 1982, Roberto Baggio in 1993, and Fabio Cannavaro in 2006, all legends of the game, in Italy and across the globe.” Outside of the Boot


UCL: Messi, Barcelona top Arsenal; Juventus comes back on Bayern

February 23, 2016

“There was late drama in both Champions League ties Tuesday. Lionel Messi continued to haunt Arsenal as Barcelona won 2-0 on a pair of Messi goals in London. Meanwhile, in Turin, Bayern Munich threw away a 2-0 lead and settled for a 2-2 draw against Juventus, though the German side will bring an away-goals edge with it to the return leg next month.” SI


Juventus 2-2 Bayern player ratings: Allegri’s men come from behind in last-16 thriller

February 23, 2016

“A first-half tactical masterclass from Pep Guardiola saw Bayern Munich dominate Juventus in their own back yard and they take two away goals back to the Allianz Arena. The German side looked comfortable to leave Turin with a commanding win but Massimiliano Allegri’s side’s second half resurgence has assured that there is still life in the tie.” Squawka (Video)


Book review: Calcio’s Greatest Forwards by George Rinaldi

February 23, 2016

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“Serie A has often been the toughest of proving grounds for even the most gifted of strikers – just ask Dennis Bergkamp or Ian Rush. So for 21-year-old debutant George Rinaldi to take on the task of slimming down a fairly comprehensive list of Italian football’s greatest forwards and chronicling their goalscoring feats for his first book was admirable indeed” Football Pink, amazon


Tactical Analysis: Juventus 1-0 Napoli | Defensive Solidity and Formational Fluidity

February 17, 2016

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“Juventus and Napoli both came into this match in incredible form. Napoli had won 8 straight in the Serie A, including two 5-1 victories. Juventus, on the other hand, had won 14 straight, the streak propelling them back into the title race after a dismal start to the season. With these two teams sitting on top of the table, and Napoli ahead of Juve by just two points, this match could be the deciding moment in the Scudetto race. Although the match was a stalemate until Juve scored with 3 minutes to go, it was a captivating tactical battle, as Sarri and Allegri shut out each other’s teams.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis: Napoli 5-1 Empoli | Pressing resistance and half space switches

February 7, 2016

“Sarri’s table-topping Napoli met his former side Empoli and throughout the match Sarri’s influence/signature was evident on both sides. Right from the kick off routine to the way they invited and manipulated pressure before using it to their advantage. This made for a highly intriguing encounter with Napoli eventually making their superiority count with a 5-1 win, as they restored their 2-point lead over Juventus in the process.” Outside of the Boot


Italy’s Latast Golden Boy

January 25, 2016

“The province of Varese is far to the north of Italy, almost a part of Switzerland, a narrow corridor of land sandwiched between Lake Como and Lake Maggiore. In the small town of Leggiuno on November 7, 1944, there was born in this district Italy’s current footballing idol, Luigi Riva. You don’t get close to appreciating Riva’s personality unless you see it in this context – the context of a country boy, one orphaned at an early age, who still prefers to spend a part of each summer close-season in the province of Varese indulging in a spot of quiet fishing, and visiting friends made in his youthful years on a thoroughly informal basis.” In Bed With Maradona


Ciao! Italia 90

January 25, 2016

“The coordinated effort to develop of a coherent visual identity for the Italian World Cup. ‘A three-dimensionally accessible idea, future technological games, televised images, consumerism’. These are the words of Lucio Boscardin – author of the lanky Ciao! mascot – which appear on the pages of Epoca in November 1986, the day following the unveiling of the visual identity of the Italia 90 football World Cup, crystallising the visionary spirit of his project. After all, concepts such as ‘future’ and ‘technology’ would become recurring themes in the artistic project behind a tournament which aimed to renovate Italy’s image, distancing the ‘bel paese’ from its inalienable provincialisms and stereotypes.” Copa90