16 football clubs sitting outside the elite

December 2, 2021


“Should European football ever morph into a super league structure, the landscape will be substantially changed, no matter how any new league might manifest itself. For the past decade, a set of global, elite players have evolved, but beneath the top layer, there are a number of clubs who have scale and presence, some with back stories that belong to a more democratic age. Some of these glorious names may be dominant forces in their own backyard but do not have the financial clout to compete with Europe’s gargantuan institutions. Others were once feared names across the continent, metropolitan clubs from major cities such as Lisbon, Amsterdam, Rome, Rotterdam and Glasgow. …”
Game of the People


Juventus’s season is going from bad to worse … on and off the pitch

December 1, 2021


“After losing 4-0 to Chelsea, Juventus’s week only went downhill. Tuesday’s Champions League drubbing was followed up by another loss at home to Atalanta on Saturday. In-between, the club’s offices were raided by police, who seized documents relating to player transfers and financial accounts. A statement from the Turin prosecutor Anna Maria Loreto explained on Friday that these searches were part of a wide-reaching investigation. The present focus, she explained, was to assess whether Juventus, a publicly listed company, had issued false communications to investors and invoices for non-existent transactions. But Loreto noted that further matters were also under scrutiny, including services offered by agents and intermediaries. …”
Guardian


Italy: Serie A, 2021-22 season – Location-map, with 2 charts: Seasons-in 1st-Division & All-time Italian Titles list.

November 26, 2021


“… The map page has a location-map of 2021-22 Serie A. The location-map features each club’s home kit [2021-22]. The map also shows the 20 Regions of Italy. And the map also shows the 11 largest cities in Italy (2019 metropolitan-area figures) {Metropolitan cities of Italy}. The cities’ population figures can be seen at the top of the location-map. Finally, the map shows the locations of both the promoted clubs and the relegated clubs from 2021… Promoted to Serie A for 2021-22 (Empoli, Salernitana, Venezia); relegated to Serie B for 2021-22 (Benevento, Crotone, Parma). The right-hand side of the map page has 2 charts. The top chart shows each of the 20 clubs’ total seasons in Serie A, with consecutive top-flight seasons also listed. The other chart is the All-time Italian titles list (1898-1915; 1920-43; 1946-2021). …”
billsportsmaps
W – 2021–22 Serie A


Why you should be watching… Napoli

November 12, 2021


“Luciano Spalletti is crafting a Napoli side with the characteristics of his recent predecessors. Possession-based and quick in attack, like the side of Sarri. Ruthless in defensive with a cohesive press, like the sides of Ancelotti and Gattuso. And as Alex Stewart explains, the first title since 1990 isn’t out of the question. Illustrated by Henry Cooke. …”
YouTube


Examining Gasperini’s Tactics & Their Influence on Serie A, Part I: The Seeds of the High Press

November 7, 2021


Roma’s 2016/17 side played a classic Italian style that was Gasperini’s own introduction to senior football as a player in the seventies.
: “A Dutchman praising an Italy side beating his home nation is still a rare sight in football, but you heard the sound of that very pin drop after Louis Van Gaal’s praise this week. ‘For the first time,’ Van Gaal enthused at a Firenze press event, ‘I really loved watching an Italian team play.’ Roberto Mancini’s Italy walked away 1-0 winners against the Netherlands but, for those of us who’ve stuck with Serie A through its 21st century makeover, the manner of Mancini’s foot-ball—one featuring a team effort to win the back high and early—was nothing new. You could say current Serie A coaches Paulo Fonseca and—for a far longer spell of paying his dues over the last fifteen years—Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini have a hand in it. …”
Part I: The Seeds of the High Press
Part II: Moving From Year Zero to Club Legend
Part III: Building a Club Institution

A mid-season midfield partnership between Javier Pastore and Gianluca Mancini helped draw opponents into pressing Roma’s makeshift 4-3-3 phase while building up inside the Giallorossi half.


Cox: Italians are defending free kicks differently to the rest of Europe – is it a good idea?

October 25, 2021


“When an attacking side have a wide free kick, around 40 yards from goal, there is a very established way to defend that situation. The defending team positions themselves in a line, holding an offside trap to keep the opposition away from goal, and then run back and attempt to head the ball clear. Here’s Liverpool doing that away at Atletico Madrid in midweek. This is how almost all big clubs defend this type of situation. Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Paris Saint-Germain all do pretty much the same thing. Chelsea and Manchester City are more aggressive with their positioning, defending higher up, but it’s the same idea. But now, there are outliers — and they’re almost all in Serie A. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox


Luciano Spalletti – Napoli – Tactical Analysis

October 16, 2021


“Since taking over from Gennarro Gattuso in May 2021, Luciano Spalletti has turned Napoli into one of Serie A’s most formidable units. While a fifth place finish in the 2020-21 season was a fine result for Gli Azzurri, it wasn’t what they had hoped for, nor what they could have achieved. In came Spalletti and POOF(!) the team are now on an unbeaten run at the start of the 2021-22 season, winning seven from seven. After Inter Milan broke Juventus’ long-standing record last season, the Napoli faithful will now be hoping Serie A might be theirs for the taking this year. Here is a tactical analysis of Luciano Spalletti’s new-look Napoli. …”
The Mastermindsite
Forbes: Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli Top Early Serie A Table, But Can They Challenge For The Scudetto? (Video)
Napoli appoint Luciano Spalletti as new head coach
W – Luciano Spalletti
The Moments that Cost Roma the 2010 Scudetto (Video) (April 2020), Where Did It All Go Wrong for Luciano Spalletti? Part II: 2008-2017 (Video)


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. …”
ESPN
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


Champions League roundup: Sheriff Tiraspol shock Real Madrid

September 28, 2021


Sheriff Tiraspol shock Real Madrid
“The Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol pulled off a remarkable 2-1 win away against Real Madrid in the Champions League, snatching a shock victory thanks to a sensational 89th-minute strike from Sebastien Thill. The competition debutants Sheriff went ahead against the 13-time European champions in the 25th minute with a header from the Uzbek midfielder Jasurbek Yakhshiboev, who narrowly missed a chance to double the visitors’ lead later in the first half. …”
Guardian
YouTube: Real Madrid vs. Sheriff: Extended Highlights, AC Milan vs. Atlético Madrid: Extended Highlights, Porto vs. Liverpool: Extended Highlights, RB Leipzig vs. Club Brugge: Extended Highlights, PSG vs. Man. City: Extended Highlights, Dortmund vs. Sporting: Extended Highlights


Marcos Alonso and the Genius of Thomas Tuchel

September 25, 2021


“Things got so bad, at one point, that even Marcos Alonso’s father was telling him to go. His fallout with his coach at Chelsea, Frank Lampard, had been spectacular and it had been total. Alonso had been substituted at halftime during a game at West Bromwich Albion, but instead of dutifully filing out to support his teammates, he had instead skulked off to wait on the team bus, stewing at the injustice of it all. When Lampard found out, he was furious. First, he rebuked Alonso for his disloyalty, his petulance, in front of his teammates, a public shaming that often functions as soccer’s nuclear option, and then he ostracized him entirely from his team. For four months, Alonso did not play so much as a minute of soccer. …”
NY Times
W – Marcos Alonso


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


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


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


Money, Power, and Respect at the Champions League Final

May 10, 2021


“The grand spectacle is almost upon us. Real Madrid, the great but ancient empire of European soccer, have been swept aside for now; Paris Saint-Germain, the fast-rising upstart, have faltered in their ascent. As Chelsea and Manchester City, their respective conquerors, prepare to contest the third men’s UEFA Champions League final between two English teams, there is a sense that they are announcing another next great rivalry. … Now, Foden has been coached by Pep Guardiola for only a few seasons. Yet he is such an accurate embodiment of the Spaniard’s footballing philosophy—tactically versatile, endlessly fluid in his movement—that he seems to have been working with him since he was able to walk. … Both should be leading figures for their club for several seasons to come. …” The Ringer (Audio)


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

vincenzo-montella-2016
“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

_93014245_higuain_getty
“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

landscape_4256
“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

guardiola
“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

juventus-forward-gonzalo-higuain-from-a
“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

cover-serie-a-201617_18ncglfd5gydi1kf619vhx4ztk
“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

Unai-Emery-2016-17
“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