Five takeaways from Italy’s latest Euro 2020 qualifiers

Italy wrapped up their latest set of Euro 2020 Group J qualifiers with a 2-1 victory Sunday evening over second-place Finland, with Ciro Immobile putting away his first goal for the Azzurri since September 2017 and Jorginho converting the decisive match-winner from the penalty spot.

With wins over Armenia and Finland, Roberto Mancini’s men maintained their perfect record in the qualifying phase with 6 victories and have moved closer to securing a spot in next summer’s competition.

Here are five takeaways from Italy’s latest matches. Continue reading

Five keys to Juventus vs Napoli

This weekend of the 2019/20 Serie A season is one of the more anticipated rounds, with it having been circled on the calendar ever since it came out last month.

Saturday evening sees two of the league‘s main title contenders pitted against one another at Juventus Stadium in Turin as Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus play host to Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli. Though the attention and buzz surrounding this fixture stems from Sarri’s first match against his former club, his status for the bench remains unclear at the moment. In any case, this clash promises to deliver plenty of excitement, tension and drama.

Here are five key elements which could determine the outcome of this round 2 encounter. Continue reading

Italy 2-0 Finland: Player Ratings for the Azzurri

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On Saturday at the Stadio Friuli in Udine, Italy managed to secure the 2-0 win over Finland in Group J of Euro 2020 Qualifying thanks to Nicolò Barella and Moise Kean opening up their accounts for the Azzurri.

Here are the player ratings from the victory. Continue reading

Stubborn Allegri Costs Juventus Again

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With the league just about wrapped up, Juventus travelled to Madrid with massive expectations on their shoulders. Crash out of the Champions League, and their season is effectively over. Despite the magnitude of the clash, the bianconeri looked a broken side at the Wanda Metropolitano and allowed Atletico Madrid to dominate from start to finish. Armed with Cristiano Ronaldo, this season was supposed to be different for the Italian giants and yet, Juventus arguably put in their worst European performance in six years.

While many of their stars frankly didn’t show up, Massimiliano Allegri will have to shoulder much of the blame for Juve’s most recent European embarrassment. With the score tied at zero, and still all to play for, Diego Simeone acted proactively bringing on Thomas Lemar, Alvaro Morata, and Angel Correa, essentially giving his side the extra push they needed to claim the victory.

Allegri, by contrast, acted timidly both with his starting lineup and in-game substitutions, keeping Joao Cancelo on the bench in favour of Mattia De Sciglio and only introduced Federico Bernardeschi by the time it was too late. Meanwhile, the former Milan tactician had Dybala operating from the right, as if he was a natural winger. Naturally, what transpired throughout the ninety minutes was an unmitigated disaster, culminating in a heavy defeat, which if we’re being honest, could have been much, much worse for Allegri. He’ll will be thanking VAR and Diego Costa.

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Spalletti deserves criticism for handing initiative to Juventus in Derby d’Italia

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“It’s unfortunate that we lost, but we were the team that had the bigger chances during the game. But this is Juventus’s strength: we more than matched them, but they know how to fully capitalise on their opportunities. We didn’t manage to find the back of the net, however. We could have got a better result tonight, but we’ll try to take good heart from the good things we did tonight: on Tuesday evening, we have to win at San Siro in front of our fans, who are always fantastic.” Continue reading

Spalletti: “We did well for long spells, but we’re still too careless at times”

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Luciano Spalletti was understandably frustrated by the manner in which his Inter side were defeated 1-0 by Juventus in tonight’s showpiece Derby d’Italia at Allianz Stadium in Turin. Indeed, the 59-year-old Tuscan made it perfectly clear to the media after the match that he was not satisfied with the way his players handled themselves during the crucial moments, particularly during the second half. Here is what he said: “We did quite well in the game, the team played some great football but we got things wrong at certain times which cannot happen against Juventus. Continue reading

Spalletti: “We’ll face Juventus with courage and determination”

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Ahead of tonight’s Derby d’Italia between Juventus and Inter, Nerazzurri coach Luciano Spalletti held his traditional pre-match press conference yesterday afternoon. The 59-year-old Tuscan was full of praise for the Bianconeri and the way in which they have continually strengthened their squad over the course of the past few years. Here is what he had to say to the gathered journalists at the Suning Training Centre: Continue reading

Sassuolo a must win for AC Milan tonight

Having drawn their last three games in the league, facing Cagliari, Atalanta and Empoli, Milan will certainly look to get back to winning ways this evening, with the pressure mounting on the squad as well as head coach Gennaro Gattuso. 

The Rossoneri’s start to the season has been anything but enjoyable, much like the past seasons, failing to live up to the hype that was created during the summer. With most of the players’ confidence hitting rock bottom, Gattuso’s men will have to put the past behind in order to regain positions in the standings.  Continue reading

Leonardo played down rumours and delivered; AC Milan’s greatest addition

At the time of writing, AC Milan are just details away from securing the operation involving Bonucci, Caldara and Higuain, which will see the latter two join the Rossoneri. 

However, to understand the importance of this deal, we need to take it from the beginning. Just 20 days ago, former AC Milan owner Yonghong Li defaulted on his loan, thus allowing American hedge fund Elliott to step in and take control of the club.

At this point, the situation of the club was more or less chaotic, having previously received a ban from UEFA, stopping them from competing in the Europa League. Fans expected the new owners, Elliott, to treat the club like just another business opportunity, potentially selling the club almost straight away. However, the hedge fund had other ideas, luckily so for Milan.

Releasing an ensuring statement at the time of the takeover, Milan fans soon realised that a plan had been laid out for the club’s future, and not just for the short term.

“Elliott’s vision for AC Milan is straightforward: to create financial stability and establish sound management; to achieve long-term success for AC Milan by focusing on the fundamentals and ensuring that the club is well-capitalized, and to run a sustainable operating model that respects UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations,” part of the statement read.

Straight away, Elliott provided the reassurance and documents necessary for CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) to overturn the Rossoneri’s Europa League ban. Furthermore, the hedge fund also replaced the board of directors, whilst calling for the immediate exit of CEO Marco Fassone and sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli.

Many, including the Curva Sud, criticised the decision to terminate Mirabelli’s contract, as there had been rumours that Leonardo would be his successor. The Curva described the latter as a ‘traitor’, having been the manager of Inter for a brief spell.

Despite some of the fans’ anger, Elliott went ahead with their plan, appointing Leonardo six days ago. This, along with the entrance of Eliott, should be described as Milan’s best addition this summer.

During his press conference, Leonardo decided to lay low, playing down most of the questions regarding the transfer market. This, unlike Fassone and Mirabelli, who constantly teased the fan base with potential ‘surprises’ that never arrived. In fact, Leonardo even stated that: “We have a big weight on the budget, which makes it difficult to insert big names.”

However, just six days into his Milan adventure, the Brazilian has (almost) managed to secure one of the greatest deals that the Rossoneri have ever completed, reminding us of when Galliani brought Ibrahimovic to San Siro for just €20m.

AC Milan will sign Gonzalo Higuain on loan for €18m, while there’s an option to buy included, valued at €36m. Even though the Argentinian is almost 32-years-old, it’s still a good deal for perhaps the best striker in the league (bar Ronaldo).

Furthermore, in exchange for 31-year-old Bonucci, Milan will get one of the best Italian defensive talents in Mattia Caldara, who along with Romagnoli will represent a bright future for the Rossoneri’s defence. In other words, Leonardo’s AC Milan spell couldn’t have started in a better way, having already silenced the critics, while demonstrating that the San Siro side’s future is in safe hands.

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AC Milan’s Top Five Performing Transfers From 2017-18

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Last summer, Milan brought in nearly a dozen new faces through a massive spending spree surpassing the €200 million threshold, some performing to expectations while others failed to deliver in what most consider to be a failed season as the Rossoneri missed out on a top four finish. However, there were several who rose to the occasion overall, and turned out to be quality purchases in the end.

Here are the top five players from Milan’s massive summer overhaul based on their seasonal performance during 2017-18: Continue reading