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

Jorginho’s growing influence at Chelsea

Jorginho_Napoli For all the talent within Manchester City’s ranks Pep Guardiola felt the need to acquire new players during the recently concluded transfer window, one of whom was Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez who’s displays for Leicester City over the past few years warranted a move to a club of City’s calibre.

Another one of Guardiola’s prime targets was Napoli midfield maestro Jorginho, who’s sublime displays in Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli made him one of the most highly-rated midfielders on the European football scene and the subject of multiple bids from City.

“He always plays through the middle, with one-metre passes. It’s difficult to keep him back and intercept his play. He tires you out because he distributes the ball very quickly yet remains practically stationary. You must have a lot of energy to keep him behind the ball and defuse his intentions. He can be difficult to face” said Radja Naingollan, one of Europe’s best midfield enforcers, after naming Jorginho as his most difficult opponent on the pitch.

Luckily for Chelsea fans, Jorginho opted for a move to Stamford Bridge despite Guardiola’s keenness on making him part of his silky-smooth Manchester City side.

Maurizzio Sarri’s move to the London outfit certainly played a role in the Italy international’s decision to ignore Manchester City’s attempts to sign him considering the fact that Chelsea are absent from this season’s Champions League competition, and participation in Europe’s elite cup competition is usually a big factor for top players looking to switch clubs.

Since joining Chelsea, Jorginho has effectively performed the role he was acquired for as evidenced by his side’s points tally. He’s deployed as a deep-lying playmaker but evidently has a license to move further up the pitch should certain plays demand it. He starts attacks off from deep, often searching for the right option in midfield in a bid for Chelsea to find a good route into their opponent’s half of the pitch.

Jorginho also looks to pick out players further up the pitch when such an opportunity presents itself, making the ball segue with relative ease. He has been instrumental in Chelsea’s perfect start to the 2017/18 season, making key passes, intercepting the ball and dictating the tempo of games.

He managed to bag a goal on his Premier League debut against Huddersfield, albeit from the penalty spot – but the confidence and fearlessness to strike the ball so cleanly is testament of the composure and calmness he brings to Chelsea’s midfield.

Such is his equanimity that he doesn’t dive into tackles often, he much rather prefers to asses the situation and set himself up for an interception He is yet to register an assist for the Blue, due in large part to his role on the pitch – he often finds himself at the start of attacking moves, hence; someone else is almost always going to be the one to play the final pass which ultimately counts as the assist.

Four games into the season and Jorginho already tops the individual chart for the most successful passes in the Premier League with a tally of 417 successful passes in a list dominated by defenders who are often able to pass the ball sideways to an open player deep within their own half without having to deal with constant pressure all the time. He currently averages 104.25 passes per game with a 92.1% pass success rate.

His presence in the middle of the park allows Chelsea to execute Maurizio Sarri’s tactical advocacy excellently, with the ball being distributed from midfield non-stop with the right speed, right weight and superb accuracy making it difficult for opposing team’s to half Chelsea’s fluidity with the ball.

From his first few games of the season, Jorginho has shown the Premier League why he’s widely regarded as the heir to Andrea Pirlo’s throne. His style of play is markedly similar to the Italian football legend and his effectiveness in utilising that style in a regista role on the pitch is on par with the Juventus icon.

Jorginho has quickly established himself as an indispensable member of Chelsea’s first team set-up as a result of his exquisite performances and from the looks of it his influence is likely to grow once the Blue’s Europa League campaign fully commences. Maurizio Sarri is certainly happy he was able to bring the 26-year-old to Stamford Bridge with him after a great run in Naples – it remains to be seen, though, if Jorginho’s brilliance will be enough to keep Chelsea firing on all cylinders until the end of the season.

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Premier League Fantasy Managers? If you’re up to challenging the best then play www.fantasy-premier.com now!

Serie A must continue purchase of World Class players to enhance image

Seven years ago, one French Club, Paris Saint Germain invaded Serie A and plundered the league’s top stars from its top teams. Jérémy Ménez, Javier Pastore, Thiago Motta, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marco Verratti, Thiago Sliva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Later, Marquinhos and Edison Cavani joined the fray. PSG’s incursion was propelled by current owners, Qatar Sports Investments, spearheaded by Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

It wasn’t just the ability of the oil rich investors to price away the best talents from other clubs as was the case with Neymar last season, but it exposed how vulnerable and financially weak clubs in Italy were at that particular period. Let’s look at it from this perspective, the strength of a league is predicated on the strength of its clubs. Thus, Serie A became weak in the eyes of its opposing leagues.

It’s worth to note that, during those trial moments, Juventus were putting in place the right structures, both administratively and infrastructure (The Allianz Stadium). They managed to sign the likes of Carlos Tevez from Manchester City, Arturo Vidal from Bayer Leverkusen, got Andrea Pirlo on a Bossman and a world class potential in Paul Pobga. The results are six scudetti on the bounce and two Champions League finals in the last five years. They continue to attract some of the best talents in Douglas Costa, Blaise Matuidi and Emre Can.

This season,the backdrop to Juventus campaign is the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. Portuguese Captain is a symbol of perseverance, whiles his great achievements and showy personality drags the media to his orbit. A report this year from D’Marie Analytics, a social media research firm estimates that a post by Ronaldo across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter is worth a cumulative $728,973.35, making him both the most valuable soccer player and athlete overall.

And of course, commercially, there are all sorts of financial spin offs when you sign Cristiano Ronaldo, from merchandise to image rights.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Ronaldo’s debut match against Chievo attracted 2,330,234 unique viewers, with an audience share of 11.9 percent. That’s a 68 percent increase in viewers on Juve’s first match of last season, when they faced Cagliari at home. It is also the fourth-highest total since the Italian branch of Sky launched, surpassed only by the Derby d’Italia in 2013 and 2016, and Roma-Juventus in August 2015. Another Broadcast giant ESPN signed a multi-year deal to broadcast Serie A in the United States It’s difficult to quantify how much of this attention is contributed by the competitiveness of the league after Napoli gave Juventus a hard fought for the scudetto last season.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s entrance has brought the sheen that Serie A needs.

It is however important for the other top teams Inter Milan, Napoli, AC Milan and AS Roma to leverage on the current attraction to lure elite players to their abode.

The two San Siro outfits, AC Milan and Inter are beginning to recover their financial muscle after the change of ownerships from Italian families to foreign Investors, as well as Roma. Things are beginning to look up for AC Milan under the current owners Elliot Hudge Fund Management who have brought back Leonardo in the position of Sporting director, alongside Paolo Maldini as sporting strategy and development director.

AC Milan’s transfer activities have not triggered the kind of excitement that greeted the appointment of their former heroes. Paolo Maldini’s name seems to have overshadowed their purchases in the summer and rightly so because names likes, Tiémoué Bakayoko, Alen Halilovic, Samu Castillejo and Diego Laxalt do not generate euphoria. But the Rossoneri take consolation in the signature of Gonzalo Higuain and Mattia Caldara.

Inter Milan managed to sign Radja Nainggolan from AS Roma and Kwadwo Asamoah from Inter whiles keeping Ivan Peresic and their priciest asset, Captain Maruo Icardi. The reports about Luka Modric wanting to join the Nerazzurri drew a lot of enthusiasm around the club and showed further proof of the kind of players that Serie A are missing. Though the player decided otherwise, it was a sign of ambition on the part of the Nerazzurri.

Despite the acquisition of Javier Pastori and Steven Nzonzi by AS Roma this summer, the Giallorossi have lost world class goalkeeper Alison Becker to Liverpool and Kevin Strootman to Marseille. Whiles Mauricio Sarri and Jorginho have joined Chelsea from Napoli. Last year, three players from Serie A mounted the FIFPro World XI podium. Two of them, Dani Alves and Gialuigi Buffon are currently PSG players. Cristiano Ronaldo may be on the podium in the next FIFA Mens Best Player Award Event but it will be based on his performance at Real Madrid.

Serie A need a continue purchase of world class players to continue enjoying the attention it’s currently attracting.

How well do you know Italian football? Do you want to battle the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasyseriea.com now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chelsea need to figure out their defensive woes

sarriIt has been a great start to the Premier League season for Chelsea in terms of results. They beat Huddersfield comfortably in the first match of the season, 3-0, before winning a thrilling contest against Arsenal 3-2 last weekend at Stamford Bridge.

If there is one thing that we have learned from the first two games, it’s that Chelsea are really trying to play Maurizio Sarri’s style of football. The players all seem to have bought in to the manager’s philosophy.

Unfortunately, to get going properly under Sarri, it takes time. This is something he was not afforded as he was not even in charge of the squad from the first day of preseason training. We are starting to see now what the delay has cost the Blues and their Italian manager. Continue reading

Man City’s Community Shield win a sign of things ahead?

mancitycommshieldwinWhen Chelsea went up against Man City in last weekend’s Community Shield, there was hope among the Londoners that they could push City to a good game and indicate a season nearer the top of the table. With new boss Maurizio Sarri in place and Jorinho wearing the darker blue of Chelsea rather than City’s sky colour, the scene was set for a good, competitive game. By the time the referee’s final whistle blew, however, City had run out relatively comfortable victors to bag their first accolade of the season after their first game. Manaer Pep Guardiola set his side up perfectly to counteract Chelsea’s threat, and it seemed as though the players had hardly missed a beat. Ignoring the fact that many of them were in Russia for the World Cup this summer, they looked as fresh as ever.

Continue reading

Golovin agrees Monaco move amid Chelsea interest

golovin2Chelsea representatives are believed to be spreading out across Europe at the moment to try and close several transfer deals ahead of the new Premier League season, but one man they had earmarked as someone they would like to bring in has given them the cold shoulder in favour of signing for Ligue 1 outfit Monaco. Aleksandr Golovin has been heavily linked with relocation to Stamford Bridge since starring in Russia’s World Cup campaign on home soil, but the French Principality have won the race to sign the 22-year-old midfielder. Reports indicate that recent Chelsea signing Jorginho may have had an influence on Golovin’s decision to choose Ligue 1 over the Premier League, with game time seemingly becoming increasingly difficult in west London.

Continue reading