Mancini Prepares for Liechtenstein Clash

Following their impressive 2-0 win against Finland, Italy have proven they are ready to put their past issues behind them, and finally re-establish themselves as a threat on the international stage, starting with the 2020 Euros. Italy tactician Roberto Mancini has shown he’s ready to give youth a chance, all-while not undervaluing experience.

Today, Mancini held a press conference ahead of Gli Azzurri’s clash with Liechtenstein, and highlighted the importance of establishing an identity for the side, something that was lacking under Gian Piero Ventura’s guidance.

We have to keep growing and look to maintain the same identity as a team, no matter the opposition in front of us. We’re happy with the result: We want to bring back the enthusiasm to the national team, and what better way than through our play. We still have a lot of work to do,” said Mancini in the press conference.

rsz_marcoverratti-cropped_1fkme6d3z3ic21d1gpy1j91hjq

Since becoming Italy boss, Mancini has introduced a slick 4-3-3 with a highly technical midfield, including two registas in Jorginho and Marco Verratti. In doing so, the former Inter tactician ensures gli Azzurri are able to impose their possession-based game and dominate the opposition.

While results are often the compromise of good football, it hasn’t been the case for Mancini’s Italy, as they have registered four clean sheets in their last four games and have started their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign on the right foot.

I think a team that plays with a determined style of play over a series of games with success could establish their identity,” added Mancini.

Clearly, after Italy’s World Cup disaster and tame displays against Sweden that saw them get eliminated, Mancini’s number one priority was to introduce character. Thus far, he’s had success introducing the likes of Moise Kean and Nicolo Zaniolo while also turning to the experience of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Fabio Quagliarella.

Acting with balance of youth and experience in mind, Italy are playing their best football since Antonio Conte’s tenure, and will likely be a threat at the Euros. With a clash against Liechtenstein on the horizon, Mancini is ready to blood in more players and mix up his starting eleven once more.

“We’ll change 3-4 players from our starting eleven against Finland, perhaps even more,” said Mancini.

According to recent reports, Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli is rumoured to start in defence while Stefano Sensi is set to get a start in the midfield. Romagnoli has arguably been the best defender in Italy this season, and deserves a shot at usurping Leonardo Bonucci in the starting eleven. Sensi, on the other hand, has been in exceptional form for Sassuolo, and is an ideal deep-lying playmaker for Mancini’s 4-3-3 in the absence of Verratti or Jorginho.

Otherwise, Leonardo Spinazzola will start at right back after a string of top notch performances for Juventus while it’s likely that Fabio Quagliarella will get rewarded with the full ninety minutes after an impressive cameo against Finland.

While question marks were raised after Mancini’s appointment, the Italian tactician is proving to have the midas touch so far for gli Azzurri, introducing a clear style of play and identity to the national team for the first time in over two years.

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? If you’re up for it play seriea-fantasy.com now!

 

 

 

Italy 2-0 Finland: Player Ratings for the Azzurri

1D6F3655-DA21-43F0-BF61-E940E5472997

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

The EPL’s likely starting lineups for this weekend

Ross Barkley

This weekend we have another full schedule of ten EPL matches to look forward to. Here are the predicted lineups for every EPL game.

Crystal Palace v Brighton

Crystal Palace XI: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Dann, Tomkins, Van Aanholt, Kouyate, Milivojevic, Schlupp, Townsend, Batshuayi, Zaha

Brighton XI: Ryan, Montoya, Dunk, Duffy, Bernardo, Propper, Stephens, Bissouma, Knockaert, Andone, Jahanbakhsh

Questionable: n/a

Out: Speroni, Sakho, Souare (Crystal Palace); Balogun, Gross (Brighton)

Marek Hamsik’s curtain call opens the door for Amadou Diawara at Napoli

SSC Napoli v AC Chievo Verona - Serie A

Bombshell transfer news struck post-match of Napoli’s 3-0 win over Sampdoria at the Stadio San Paolo as Carlo Ancelotti revealed to the media “talks are in progress over a potential move” for Slovakian Marek Hamsik.

The eyebrow-raising Italian boss went on further to explain the Partenopei “will work to satisfy his wishes,” but according to Sky Sport’s Gianluca Di Marzio, it seems like president Aurelio de Laurentiis has already.

Di Marzio has reported the 31-year old, who has been a folklore hero in Naples for 12 years and is the club’s all-time leader in goals and appearances, will join Chinese outfit Dalian Yifeng for a fee of €15 million. He is expected to earn €9 million per season under a new three-year contract. Continue reading

Why a shift to 4-2-3-1 could solve Chelsea’s midfield woes

In truth, last Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur flattered Chelsea. The gulf in class between the two teams at Wembley was much vaster than a two-goal margin would suggest, as Spurs comprehensively outplayed their London rivals to climb above them and into third place in the Premier League table.

Chelsea were exposed defensively against Mauricio Pochettino’s men, with David Luiz particularly shaky up against a lively front three of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min. The post-mortem has focused more on the makeup of the Blues’ midfield, though, after Jorginho was effectively shackled by Alli and N’Golo Kante again looked uncomfortable in a No.8 role.

Continue reading

Italy improving under Mancini, but supporters must pump the breaks

1539539855_582552_1539550016_noticia_normal

After banging in the stoppage-time goal at the back post thanks to substitute Kevin Lasagna’s initial glancing header from the corner, Fiorentina’s Cristiano Biraghi’s late-game heroics were enough to see Italy past Poland 1-0 on Sunday, escaping relegation from Group 3 in the UEFA Nations League.

The 26-year old celebrated his first international tally by throwing up a “13″ towards the heavens in honor of the late Viola captain Davide Astori. Surely, it was a unifying moment for Italy and Italians everywhere who swarmed the match-winner and finally had something to rally around after 12 months of heartbreak.

Continue reading

Why the Premier League could possibly go to Liverpool or Chelsea

Last Sunday’s display from Chelsea and Liverpool could be christened as the best game so far this season. Both teams exhibited creativity in attack and resilience at the back. The season is still young, but on the evidence of what we witnessed could any of these two beat City to the league title this season?

Liverpool probably made the best recruits in the English Premier league this summer, bolstering their midfield with Naby Keita and Fabinho and another creative option in Xherdan Shaqiri. The Merseysiders have a world class goalkeeper in Allison Becker, who continue to provide great reflexes in the post. Liverpool have enough quality to compete against anyone for the league title this season and they’ve shown that in their last seven league games.

We saw how they conquered Tottenham Hotspurs at Wembley. It wasn’t just about the results, but the football on display has been mesmerizing. And talk of performance their 3-2 victory over Paris Saint Germain was a testament of their mental fortitude.

Not only have Jurgen Klopp reinvigorated the side that lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League finals last season, there seems to be an oomph about them this season. Established players James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino, and Jordan Henderson et al are playing at a level a notch higher that we saw in the previous campaign.

This season Mohammed Salah is not showing the same sophistication with opportunities that have come his way. The Egyptian has scored three goals from a total of 20 shots on target. But Sadio Mane seems to have taken much of the responsibility when it comes to goals. So far adorning the number 10 jersey has yielded four, with Roberto Firmino on two.

James Milner has proven that he still cut it for the premier league with his tireless work in midfield, but Gini Widnaldum is currently Liverpool’s most improved player so far this season. The Netherlands international is playing with a lot confidence, hardly giving the ball away. And guess what, he doesn’t look flustered by the presence of Naby Keita on the bench.

The decision to bring Daniel Sturridge back from loan has proven to be an astute one. In the absence of Roberto Firmino, Sturridge can step up and play an important part in Liverpool’s campaign this season as we’ve seen him score vital goals against PSG in the Champions League and Chelsea in the league.

One significant decision by Kloop, is the center back partnership between Van Dyke and Gomes. The pair have started all seven of Liverpool league games and have conceded just three so far. They share the tag of the best defense with the league leaders, Manchester City.

Chelsea

The great thing about Chelsea this season is the arrival of Mauricio Sarri. His style of play is one that Eden Hazard thrives in, and the Belgian is currently in red hot form as he is beginning to replicate his 2015 performance that won him the PFA player of the year. Also, Hazard is buoyed up his inclusion in the FIFPro World Eleven. The Chelsea forward had a great World Cup tournament with his country, winning the bronze medal.

Chelsea meanwhile occasionally telegraphs fear at the back as Antonio Rudiger and David Luis sometimes struggle against quicker attackers. But in midfield enforcer Jorginho, Matteo Kovacic and Ngolo Kante, Chelsea should be able to dominate and control games. There are still concerns about how Sarri is using a Kante’ in midfield. Despite the French man’s reputation as being destructive, the Italian manager prefers a ball playing holding midfielder in Jorginho who currently top the charts for the number of passes in the league and the most in a game.

Willian and Pedro are great attacking outlets for Chelsea. The Spanish forward has found the net three times while the Brazilian ability to carve open compact defense is proving crucial for Chelsea in when in search of a goal. Chelsea do not boost a striker with the quality of Sergio Aguero as both Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud are not quite reliable. Sarri may require a proven goal scorer in the January transfer window.

Manchester City are favorite based on their performance last season and Pep Guadiola’s reputation for winning back to back league titles, but the Citizens look beatable this season and it’s hard to envisage them go on a winning run as we saw last season. It will take a Miracle for Manchester United to win the league this season as tensions between Mourinho and Pogba is beginning to have a debilitating effect on the other players. The red devils will probably be fighting a Champions League spot.

Meanwhile Arsenal seems to have turned the corner after their earlier struggles, but despite winning their last four games are not convincing given the defensive vulnerabilities and how wasteful they can be in th attack. Tottenham Hotspur will be hoping to maintain fourth spot by the end of the season.

As it stands Chelsea and Liverpool look set to deny Manchester city a second straight league cup.

How well do you know Italian Football? Want to challenge the best Fantasy Managers? Play www.seriea-fantasy.com now!

 

Four Reasons Why Chelsea Can win the Premier League this Season

eden hazard chelsea

Chelsea are in red-hot form at the moment as evidenced by their most recent victory over a newly-promoted Cardiff side who have managed to garner just two points from their opening five games in the Premier League thus putting them in danger of relegation despite it being so early in the season.

Whilst many might dismiss Chelsea’s win over Cardiff as a routine victory considering the latter’s position on the league table, the dominant manner with which the Blues won the game is a testament to their Quality this season.

Without further ado here are 5 reasons why Chelsea can win the Premier League this season;

Eden Hazard’s Brilliance

In the past few years, Eden Hazard hasn’t had the best of luck regarding Chelsea’s managerial choices. From Jose Mourinho to Antonio Conte – two managers with defensive tactical advocacies back-to-back have prevented the Belgium international from showing the Premier League and and world what he’s truly capable of.

Whilst he’s always been Chelsea’s key man, the defensive responsibilities placed on him along with the lack of fluidity on the pitch continuously prevented him from playing to the best of his ability – not anymore, though, as he now plays in a system that let’s him focus on attacking thanks to the presence of Maurizio Sarri at the helm of Chelsea’s tactical affairs.

Hazard has scored five goals and registered two assists in 5 Premier League games, two of which saw him come in off the bench. His goal and assist contributions, though, don’t tell the full story of his brilliance for Chelsea this season considering how well he’s been bringing other players into play and drawing opposition defenders out of position to create space for his opponents. Hazard is currently playing at a level rivaled only by the likes of Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo – With Hazard in this kind of form, Chelsea are unstoppable going forward.

Strength in Depth

Since the start of the campaign Willian and Pedro, both of whom were rumoured to be on their way out of Stamford Bridge have been used interchangeably by Sarri to great effect with Pedro being Sarri’s preferred option at the start of games. The Italian tactician’s use of both players has kept Chelsea unpredictable going forward and also prevented either of them from tiring out ahead of upcoming Premier League encounters.

Sarri is also able to utilise either Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata up front, and whilst they’re not really as prolific as they should be, they’re capable of scoring goals.

In midfield Sarri is able to call upon Real Madrid loanee Mateo Kovavic, Ross Barkley, Jorginho, Kante and Danny Drinkwater, all of whom are capable of putting in great performances should they be deployed in any area of the midfield.

Even in defence, Chelsea’s strength in depth is telling, hence when the Europa League begins the Blues will be able to participate without neglecting their Premier League ambitions and vice versa.

Jorginho’s Midfield Masterclass

Italy international Jorginho has settled into Chelsea’s midfield quite nicely having contributed a great deal to the team’s increased fluidity, attacking prowess, and, of course, success.

Despite being yet to register an assist this season, due in large part to his deep-lying playmaker role, Jorginho has effectively dictated Chelsea’s play for five games in a row, often allowing his teammates to constantly move into different areas of the attacking third knowing fully well that the ball will be distributed to them at the right time, with the right pace and the right weight.

Jorginho appears to be one of Chelsea’s most influential players as he’s very integral to the success of Sarriball, especially against high pressing teams.

His presence in the side could see Chelsea go all the way and win the Premier League title come the end of the season.

Chelsea’s Support

Chelsea’s support has been tremendous since the start of the season. The club’s fans are ecstatic thanks to the team’s attacking mentality, and their success whilst utilising a more attacking system than the fans have been used to seeing over the past few years.

The club’s support have received Maurizio Sarri’s system with open arms and the joyous mood of the fans has helped to motivate Chelsea’s players to perform to the best of their abilities and grab maximum points each time they step onto the pitch.

How well do you know European football? Want to challenge the best Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasy-champions-league.com now!

Can Sarri Make It 5/5 For Chelsea?

Chelsea–Cardiff City

English Premier League, Week 5

15.9.2018

Having begun the season in perfect fashion, Chelsea welcome Cardiff City to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, the home side hoping to extend Maurizio Sarri’s record to five wins from five as the Italian boss begins to imprint his style upon them. Continue reading