Standings implications: Inter stay on top of the table after besting Milan in the Derby, but Juventus and Napoli keep up as the Bianconeri squeaked by Verona and the Partenopei instead deep-sixed Lecce. Roma peeped out in the higher districts with a dramatic victory over Bologna and Lazio are right behind them after breezing past Parma. As they are ones to do, Atalanta clawed back against Fiorentina. Sassuolo handled SPAL at home, while Cagliari soundly defeated Genoa on Friday. Brescia stunned Udinese on the road while Sampdoria are finally on the board after their W over Torino. Continue reading
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After last weekend’s abysmal showing at Carrow Road against Norwich City, Manchester City bounced back in dramatic fashion against a sorry Watford side at the Etihad stadium on Saturday afternoon. Continue reading
There are so many unforgettable characters in “Pulp Fiction”, but none are as cool as Harvey Keitel’s portrayal of Winston Wolfe. He’s the classic fixer, the person rich people or criminals call to clean up a messy situation because of their ability to think clearly under pressure and to efficiently get out of even the most complex problems.
While I don’t imagine Beppe Marotta has ever wore a tux to a party that is taking place early in the morning like when we are first introduced to mister Wolfe, Inter’s current executive director is now Calcio’s version of Mister Wolfe. After a very successful spell at Sampdoria, he was one of the architects of Juventus’ resurgence post Calciopoli and is now building a very strong foundation for Inter who are desperate to return to the glory days of the treble after a difficult stretch of years.
The season just started and we know Inter are notorious for falling apart at the worse possible time, but if you also look at how disorganized Juventus has appeared since his departure, there’s a case to be made this has been Marotta’s best summer ever when you factor Conte, Godin, Lukaku, Sensi, Barella’s arrivals coupled with Mauro Icardi leaving but not for Juventus.
To be fair Marotta inherited Inter right when they were about to get out of Financial Fair Play hell. His sporting director Piero Ausilio and his predecessors in the executive director role deserve a lot of credit for making significant plusvalenze on home grown players, which allowed Marotta to spend considerably more this summer.
Certainly, Antonio Conte wouldn’t have come to Inter until he had guarantees they would be able to spend significantly on the transfer market, but Marotta convinced him to join him at Inter after the two of them had a falling out at Juventus (Conte famously never mentioned him during his farewell from the bianconeri) because of disagreements on the transfer market.
Everyone remembers the famous quote on not being able to afford the restaurant that costs 100 euro with a 10 euro bill, but this summer Marotta broke Inter’s transfer record twice by signing first Niccolo’ Barella and later Romelu Lukaku, who had become like Moby Dick for Conte since he had tried to sign him both at Juventus and Chelsea. Inter also signed Diego Godin to a very expensive Bosman deal to complete a new version of the BBC but it turns out that so far the nerazzurri’s best addition came from Sassuolo.
While at Juventus, Marotta developed a great relationship with Sassuolo’s director Carnevali- they completed many deals which benefitted both teams on the pitch and financially. But with the way Stefano Sensi has played since he arrived at Inter, you can make a case Marotta saved the best deal with the neroverdi for his new club (just picture how good Sensi would look in Juventus midfield right now).
Certainly the incoming players have been impressive, but Marotta’s best work may have come with the Mauro Icardi situation. He set the tone right away at Conte’s introductory press conference, he stated that the Argentine striker as well as Radja Nainggolan would not be part of the project (he later on added Ivan Perisic to the list) and while many assumed Marotta would eventually have no choice but to send him to Juventus, who went so far as not assigning number 9 to keep it ready for Icardi.
Certainly, it would have been better to sell Mauro Icardi on a permanent sale, but Marotta was able to get him out of the league altogether while working on a deal that would give Icardi a significant financial incentive by staying at PSG since his contract with the French club would pay substantially more than what Inter would give him should he return.
Marotta was able to shed Icardi, Perisic and most of Nainggolan’s significant wages by sending them off on loan. Juventus would have liked to be able to do the same with the likes of some of their unwanted veterans since now their payroll is very bloated at a time that they are also in the red on their balance sheet, it’s safe to say that Paratici and Nedved have struggled a bit in their first summer transfer window at Juventus without Marotta.
After his strong contributions to Juventus’ rebuild, Marotta is well on his way to doing the same at Inter- he’s now become Serie A’s mister Wolfe.
The long-awaited derby didn’t go exactly as planned for AC Milan, as the Rossoneri were outplayed by their city rivals for most of the game. Furthermore, the team lacked the spirit to turn the game around, while Giampaolo continues to disappoint with his team selection.
The clash started as you would expect, with both sides having a go at each other to probe the ground. However, that phase quickly faded as the Nerazzurri took control of the game, which was the sight for a majority of the first half. In terms of chances, the away side dominated, while Milan continued to struggle. Continue reading
Juventus got tested beyond expectations by a very aggressive Verona, but slowly figured it out and managed to come out on top to nab the third win of the season.
Gianluigi Buffon: he was spared on the penalty, but then Miguel Veloso scored anyway moments later with a scorcher. The Portuguese midfielder challenged him over and over again in the second half with his sharp free kicks, but he did not cave and pulled off one of his signature saves on Darko Lazovic late to preserve the tie. As for the rest of the defence, Danilo and Alex Sandro were passable, but containing the widest players of the opponents is starting to become a recurrent issue. They both covered a lot of ground though and thwarted few chances with quick runs. Merih Demiral was too exuberant to open the match and caused an avoidable penalty, but his explosiveness was actually very useful on few reads and clearances in the box. Continue reading
The long-awaited derby between AC Milan and Inter will take place this evening, with kick-off scheduled for 20:45 Italy time. For both sides, it will be a very important game as always, though this one seems to carry a bit more importance as both teams are heading into a new era.
For the Rossoneri, it’s up to Marco Giampaolo to send a signal to the fans, as his side unconvincingly beat Brescia and Hellas Verona by the odd goal. Therefore, this evening, the fans will be hoping for a clear game plan as facing Antonio Conte’s side will be no walk in the park. Continue reading
Although there have been suggestions that Barcelona dropped two points in Dortmund during the week, the truth is that a point and a clean sheet is a positive for a club that have been shipping goals.
In the so-called ‘group of death,’ Barca are no better or worse off than they were before the kick-off in Germany.
One issue they do have though is injuries to key players, and Jordi Alba was the latest to join that list. Continue reading
With Juventus taking on Hellas Verona tomorrow, it’s as good a time as any for Maurizio Sarri to rotate his eleven and give the bianconeri’s new arrivals some much-needed playing time.
As the Italian champions debuted with a tough schedule that saw them take on Napoli, Fiorentina and Atletico Madrid in succession, the former Chelsea tactician opted not to ruffle any feathers and stick with Juventus veterans such as Sami Khedira and Blaise Matuidi among others.
Now with Juventus taking on Hellas Verona, Brescia and SPAL in the coming weeks, Sarri would be wise to rest his starters and look to integrate the new signings. While Matuidi and Khedira haven’t had bad starts to the season by any stretch, they are limited and are currently holding back ‘Sarriball’ from being in full flow.
New arrivals Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot are far more suited to free-flowing football and will benefit from increased playing time in the coming games.
Uruguayan international Rodrigo Bentancur is also expected to feature and has looked impressive in brief cameos thus far. Outside of a revamped midfield, hard-nosed defender Merih Demiral is rumoured to start alongside Leonardo Bonucci.
The Turkish international has patiently waited in the wings and appears more than ready to seize the opportunity. With Giorgio Chiellini out for the foreseeable future, Demiral’s aggression is an asset this Juventus defence desperately craves – as highlighted by their most recent collapse against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
Reports also suggest that Gonzalo Higuain will make way out of the lineup for Paulo Dybala. After a summer linking la Joya away from the club, the former Palermo man opted to stay, rejecting a move to Manchester United. Now with Sarri looking to rotate, it’s time for Dybala to prove himself and demonstrate he has what it takes to play as an outright number nine in the former Napoli tactician’s system.
At Napoli, Dries Mertens played this role to perfection and has a similar skill-set to the Argentine. While the Belgian is arguably a better finisher than Dybala, there’s no reason the Juventus forward can’t get into similar positions as Mertens. While the 25-year-old will be eager to play in more important games, proving himself against Hellas Verona will be a good start after an indifferent season under Allegri. Factor in Higuain’s good form, and it’s clear Dybala has to have a good performance against the newly-promoted side to keep up with his compatriot.
As the season unfolds and Juventus get more comfortable with their new boss, expect to see more and more signs of Sarriball in Turin. Introducing the likes of Dybala, Rabiot and Ramsey – players who are more technical than their direct competitors in their position – will only help in this respect.
As a result, the following weeks are of paramount importance to Sarri and co. Not for the table, but for his playing philosophy. If Juventus wish to play free-flowing football in their coach’s image, the time to buy in is now. On Sarri’s end, it’s time to use Juventus’ deep roster and look for alternatives to the current starters. Starting, of course, with the game against Hellas Verona.
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It’s time for gameweek six of the 2019/20 English Premier League season.
Here’s a look at all the predicted lineups for the ten fixtures over the coming weekend.
Southampton v Bournemouth
Key men: Djenepo (Southampton); Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
Prediction: Southampton 1 – 1 Bournemouth Continue reading
Sarri was back in front of the journalists today to preview the game against Hellas Verona. He hinted at some lineup changes on Saturday and looked back at the Atletico Madrid clash: “Within a good performance, there were few moments where we were superficial and we must eliminate that. We paid the price on set pieces. I do not like to throw away something that works, I want to analyse it and fix it. There were some lapses in focus and aggressiveness that would have been costly also with man marking.” Continue reading