The Top Five Attackers From the 2018/19 Serie A Season

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Forwards are often on the receiving end of most of the attention and praise throughout the course of a season; after all, it is their end product after a build-up and impact on the scoresheet that decides matches.

There was a large selection pool to choose from, and in several forward roles, but here are the five top attackers from this past campaign. 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

What to Watch For: Napoli vs Sampdoria

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Another week, another enthralling round of Serie A fixtures beckons for calcio fans, none more intriguing and jam packed with storylines than Napoli vs Sampdoria at the San Paolo.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Partenopei look to rebound after bowing out of the Coppa Italia midweek at the hands of Krzysztof Piatek and Milan, while Marco Giampaolo’s Samp look to climb closer to 4th place in the league table.

With all of this in mind, here is what you should be watching for in Napoli vs Sampdoria on Saturday: Continue reading

Rejuvenated Quagliarella rewarded with Italy return

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If anybody knows what Fabio Quagliarella is capable of, it’s Antonio Conte. After all, the striker worked under the Coach for the three seasons at Juventus. Each ended in Scudetto joy.

Football can throw up paradoxical situations at times. And it’s Quagliarella finding limited space at the back end of his Juve stint that opened the door for his recall to the Italy squad, by Conte, for the first time since November 2010.

Squeezed out during the 2013-14 campaign after the summer arrivals of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente, the much-travelled scorer of great goals wasn’t keen on a move from a city in which he felt comfortable. Enter Torino.

Quagliarella had actually worn the famous Granata in two stints earlier in his career. And third time was definitely the charm. Not that his time in the Black and White half of the city was negative – Quagliarella netted crucial and spectacular goals and was substituted to a chorus of applause upon his return to Juventus Stadium – but at Torino he has found the space needed to rediscover his best.

“[Torino Coach Giampiero] Ventura is giving me a chance to shine at Torino and prove myself for the Azzurri,” he stated on Tuesday at Coverciano, the national team base.

When Quagliarella last walked those hallowed halls he had started life at Juventus in brilliant fashion. Months earlier, the Naples native provided Italy’s only highlight of a disastrous 2010 World Cup with a superb chipped goal in the loss to Slovakia. Quagliarella scored in a friendly with Romania, his seventh goal in 25 appearances. A knee injury in January 2011 scuppered a fine season and long-term international ambitions.

It’s a deserved recall for the striker, who netted 13 Serie A goals upon his Torino return, plus four in Europe. That rich vein of scoring form has spilled into the current campaign – four goals in seven League outings. “It’s an honour, I’m enthusiastic,” Quagliarella said of his return.

Although it perhaps says something of the stocks available that Conte ended his time in the international wilderness. The 32-year-old does not offer the long-term outlook Italy need, but with two major ‘what if’s’ – Mario Balotelli and Giuseppe Rossi – there are spots available. He joins the squad to face Azerbaijan and Norway as the experienced head in attack.

Quagliarella has done well to grasp his chance, a recurring theme in recent years for the player.

Torino’s bullish heart beating strong

Calcio: Serie A; Torino-Sampdoria

Fabio Quagliarella restricted his emotion out of respect, but inside he must have been brimming with joy. The striker netted twice against his former club Sampdoria on Sunday to fire Torino up to second spot after four matches.

Like Quagliarella, the club is displaying outward restraint. “We just have to keep going our own way, trying to build our form match by match,” President Urbano Cairo stated on Monday. Torino will on the surface be reserved, but can be proud of their start to the season.

As they should. Torino are only two points behind leaders Inter, one of four remaining unbeaten sides.

Opening with dual comeback victories against Frosinone and Fiorentina, the winning run was halted at Verona, where they twice fought back to secure a draw. The ‘Cuore Granata’ had propelled Toro through the opening rounds of the new campaign.

But sometimes heart is not enough. They couldn’t always be expected to overturn deficits. And so Sunday’s 2-0 Stadio Olimpico success was a welcome result for Giampiero Ventura’s side. Compared to previous outings it was straightforward. Quagliarella broke the deadlock with a towering header after 17 minutes. Seven minutes later he tapped in the second. It’s Torino’s best start since 1993-94. The bull’s wings have not been clipped.

Credit goes to Ventura for shaping the group and Cairo for displaying faith. The fiery patron had a habit of hasty sackings. But he and Ventura have been together since 2011 and that relationship shows no signs of dissipating. He has allowed wily Ventura to go about his work in the face of big-money moves for Immobile and Alessio Cerci – summer 2014 – and this past August, Matteo Darmian.

Astute arrivals meant the Granata could carry on despite the departures. Quagliarella replaced Immobile. The £12.9m fee paid by Manchester United for Darmian was reinvested in fullback Davide Zappacosta and midfielder Daniele Baselli. The latter has flourished and already bagged four goals – Sunday was his first goalless game. Then there’s captain Kamil Glik, an exemplary leader at the back.

After progressing to the Europa League Round of 16 last season, Toro would love another crack at the continent. Given the summer investments of some bigger clubs that could be tough to achieve. However, Torino have finished seventh and ninth in the past two terms so don’t put it past them to challenge. Especially with that famous Cuore Granata.