IFD http://www.italianfootballdaily.com Your English Source For Everything Italian Football Fri, 28 Apr 2017 21:40:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 http://d5t4y6hm444bm.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/cropped-IFD-logo-e1462069992813-1-32x32.jpeg IFD http://www.italianfootballdaily.com 32 32 The 7 Best Young Footballers in Italy http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/7-best-young-footballers-italy/ http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/7-best-young-footballers-italy/#respond Fri, 28 Apr 2017 21:40:07 +0000 http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/?p=79769 Italian football has been a hotbed for great players past. While the Italian Serie A has diminished in terms of importance over the last decade, it has not prevented the Italians clubs from possessing an army of highly rated young players capable of elevating the league to the next level not too far in the […]

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Italian football has been a hotbed for great players past. While the Italian Serie A has diminished in terms of importance over the last decade, it has not prevented the Italians clubs from possessing an army of highly rated young players capable of elevating the league to the next level not too far in the future. Here are the top seven young players in Italian football.

UDINE, ITALY – JANUARY 31: Keita Balde Diao of SS Lazio reacts during the Serie A match between Udinese Calcio and SS Lazio at Dacia Arena on January 31, 2016 in Udine, Italy. (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)

Keita Balde – Lazio

A former Barcelona youth team product, Keita Balde joined the Italian outfit in the summer of 2013. Since then, he has been making steady progress. The youngster made his debut in the 2013-14 campaign. However, it is only now that he has managed to establish himself as a regular first-team player at Lazio.

The 22-year-old has been a revelation for the club, as he has managed to grab eight goals and three assists in 25 league appearances. These are impressive statistics, which would be useful for learning how to bet on football matches, considering that he has largely played as a left winger. He is yet to sign a contract extension with Lazio, who are nervous about the situation considering that his current deal runs out in the summer of 2018.

Alberto Grassi – Napoli

Alberto Grassi is one of the young and upcoming midfielders looking to follow in the footsteps of great players like Andrea Pirlo. Napoli were so convinced with Grassi’s qualities that they paid €8 million to Atalanta for the midfielder in January 2016. After spending the first six months at the club, he was loaned back to Atalanta this season. High competition for places at Napoli has been the reason behind his loan move, which has so far been productive with the player managing to score a goal in 15 league appearances. Some of his greatest strengths are physicality, technique, and the ability to dictate the pace of the game.

Godfred Donsah – Bologna

Any Ghanaian midfielder playing in the central positions is likely to be compared with Michael Essien, one of the greatest Ghanaian midfielders of his generation. However, there is something truly special about Godfred Donsah, who managed to catch the attention of Juventus and Chelsea before making the move to Bologna. After coming through the ranks at Palermo, he was signed for around €5 million from Cagliari in the summer of 2016. He may have featured only in 9 league games for Bologna this season, but he is just 20 years old and has plenty of time to establish himself as a first-team regular.

Amadou Diawara – Napoli

Amadou Diawara has quickly elevated himself into one of the top defensive midfielders in the Italian Serie A. His talent was first spotted by Bologna who managed to snap him in the summer of 2015 for just €600,000. Just as in the case of Donsah, they were able to pay a little snip for the player. His incredible talent was confirmed when Napoli came in for his services in the summer of 2016. A €14.5 million move to Napoli and 15 appearances later, Diawara is still considered as a top defensive midfielder for his age. At just 19, he clearly has a long way to go.

Franck Kessie – Atalanta

Franck Kessie has been attracting a huge amount of interest from Premier league clubs like Liverpool and Chelsea in the last few months. The 20-year-old has been a revolution in the Italian Serie A. Despite being a defensive midfielder, he has scored six goals and assisted four goals in just 24 games. Even though his performances have dipped after the African Cup of Nations, he remains a great talent indeed. The 20-year-old is under contract with Atalanta until 2021, but clubs like Chelsea and Liverpool are ready to offer in excess of €20 million for his signature.

Paulo Dybala – Juventus

Dubbed as the ‘new Lionel Messi,’ there is a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Paulo Dybala to live up to this reputation. He certainly stole the show when he came up against Messi himself in the 3-0 win over Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinal. The 23-year-old was signed by Juventus for a hefty €33 million in the summer of 2015. He has already won the Italian champion, Italian Super Cup, and Italian cup. This season, he has scored eight goals and assisted seven goals in 24 league games.

Gianluigi Donnarumma – AC Milan

Widely regarded as the replacement for Gianluigi Buffon at national team level, it is frightening to know that Gianluigi Donnarumma is only 18 years old. Yet, he has managed to receive plaudits in huge numbers. He has been a solid performer for AC Milan this season. Even though the club have not been able to achieve much success in the last few years, good times are just around the corner with a goalkeeper like Gianluigi Donnarumma. Donnarumma has already been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, who may be ready to break the world-record transfer fee for the goalkeeper.

Final Thoughts

Italy has some of the greatest football teams in the world and it’s safe to say they also have some of the most talented players in this sport. The names from above are just a few of the best out there, but since the Spanish teams have been dominating UEFA Champions League, the most important football tournament in Europe, Italy still has to catch up.

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American Owners Look to Make Calcio Great Again http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/american-owners-look-make-calcio-great/ http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/american-owners-look-make-calcio-great/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:36:24 +0000 http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/?p=79686 Foreign ownership has been a trend for many of Europe’s top leagues over the last two decades. Most clubs purchased from foreign owners have been in the Premier League. Over the last few seasons Serie A has seen an influx of new owners from various clubs all over the football pyramid. In particular there has […]

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Foreign ownership has been a trend for many of Europe’s top leagues over the last two decades. Most clubs purchased from foreign owners have been in the Premier League. Over the last few seasons Serie A has seen an influx of new owners from various clubs all over the football pyramid. In particular there has been a notable trend of American ownership. With a history of fiscal responsibility and the ambition to win both domestically and abroad, these Yankees are just what Serie A need going into the next decade.

While Italy’s top flight saw clubs go bankrupt and owners refusing to spend money over the last few decades, American ownership groups have quietly made their way on the Italian football scene. Sure, they aren’t as wealthy as Roman Abramovich, the Sheikhs or Chinese investors but they do bring an intriguing combination of wealth and smarts to the table. Take for instance James Pallotta and Roma’s ownership group.

Pallotta and Thomas Di Benedetto purchased the giallorossi in 2011 from the debt-ridden Sensi family. Pallotta is a co-owner of the Boston Celtics of the NBA and has a history of success in sports. Roma began re-tooling their team by paying off the existing debts and purchasing new players. They have continued this pattern over the last 6 years. Despite finishing runner up in Serie A in 2014 & 2015 Roma has not won any trophies during this period of time. There is optimism with a focus on youth development at the club and should compete for better players with their new buying power from new revenue streams. The new ownership has also made noise off the pitch. Pallotta and the Roma ultras have been involved with a heated, public row for 2 years now concerning the safety improvements made in the Stadio Olimpico. Pallotta has been critical of the ultras’ behaviour and they have reciprocated with boycotting every home match. Pallotta’s true claim to fame was overseeing the construction of Roma’s new stadium. “Stadio Della Roma” will be one of the most technologically advanced stadiums in the world, something desperately needed by both club and Serie A.

Most recently new American players have made their way onto the Calcio scene. The first, and likely most ambitious is Joe Tacopina and his investment group. He is one New York’s most well known criminal attorneys  and was previously the President of Bologna, and currently is a minority investor in A.S. Roma. Tacopina bought Venezia FC, a team that has floated in and out of bankruptcy for the last two decades in 2015. He has big ambitions for the club on and off the pitch. Venezia has never been a powerhouse in Italian football despite playing in one of the most famous cities in the world. Tacopina plans to change that beginning with a new stadium on the mainland, made out of glass and bigger brand recognition starting with revamped social media and new merchandise. He is also partnering with youth academies in the US to train/develop players abroad. On the pitch Venezia hired former Milan player and coach Filipo Inzaghi under the were promoted from Serie D to Lega Pro in Tacopina’s first year and just recently won Lega Pro Group B to advance to Serie B. This is an historic achievement and a step closer to Tacopina’s goal to win a Scudetto and have Venezia compete in Europe. This is definitely an exciting story to watch in the years to come.

Finally, Palermo Calcio may have found a successor to the maniacal and hilarious Maurizio Zamparini. He goes by the name of Paul Baccaglini. The tatted Italo-American who was a former radio and television personality has become an investor, co-founding the INTEGRITAS Capital fund that will purchase the Rosanero. The announcement was made in early March and  the sale will be complete by the beginning of next season. Baccaglini plans on constructing a new stadium and training ground for Palermo who seem to be headed down to Serie B for next season. Baccaglini’s vision could help one of Southern Italy’s most popular teams to become relevant for the first time since the Cavani-Pastore days.

These new investors are a breath of fresh air for Serie A. Bringing in ambitious plans and matching them with the efficiency and fiscal responsibility of a North American business should make the league more appealing to a global audience. These investors bring an added competitiveness in Italian football straying from the same oligarchy that has become outdated in the modern world. New vision, new stadiums, new contenders changed the Italian game in the ’80s and 90s. These three gentleman have what it takes to usher in a renaissance for the league. It is the hope of fans and officials alike that this success be achieved. For the first time in many years there is a sense of optimism. Time will tell but the with the addition of intelligent, wealthy American investors  Calcio really can become great once again.

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What does the future hold for Milan fullback Mattia De Sciglio? http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/future-hold-milan-fullback-mattia-de-sciglio/ http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/future-hold-milan-fullback-mattia-de-sciglio/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 20:02:44 +0000 http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/?p=79742 With reports again heating up that Mattia De Sciglio has decided to leave Milano in the summer for rivals Juventus, let’s talk about what his future holds and how both clubs could make it work. Mattia De Sciglio was once known as “the next Paolo Maldini” by some supporters over five years ago, but that […]

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With reports again heating up that Mattia De Sciglio has decided to leave Milano in the summer for rivals Juventus, let’s talk about what his future holds and how both clubs could make it work.

Mattia De Sciglio was once known as “the next Paolo Maldini” by some supporters over five years ago, but that comparison is long gone now.

The 24-year-old has been with Milan for his entire career, progressing through the youth ranks and making it to the big team. Now in his 6th season with the senior side, there has been multiple reports since last summer of his desire to join reigning Scudetto champions Juventus. This would be a major move in Italian football because of the rivarly between the two clubs, and it also looks more likely as it was reported Milanisti stopped his car outside of San Siro after the loss to Empoli.

Apparently, there was a heated discussion, with Milan fans questioning his passion for the club (as he was the captain) and also confronting him about the Juventus links. After this, it seems a move to Turin is rather likely for the fullback, with Sky Italia already listing Napoli’s Faouzi Ghoulam as a potential replacement.

What are the chances of De Sciglio leaving this summer?

I’d say the chances are pretty high for his departure. Especially after the argument with the fans after yesterday’s loss, it looks like De Sciglio’s time with his boyhood club may be over. It seems as if he’s been around for much longer than his six years, playing in the Champions League a few years ago and staying at the club through the last few disappointing years.

AC Milan’s defender Mattia De Sciglio wears a jersey showing a symbol of the Chapecoense football during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan Vs Crotone on December 4, 2016 at the ‘San Siro Stadium’ in Milan. AC Milan’s football players honor Chapecoense football team, wiped out at the height of their glory in a plane crash that killed 71 people in Colombia. / AFP / MARCO BERTORELLO (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)

There were reports of him talking about a renewal a few months ago with new Chinese ownership. These were squashed as it seems the priority renewals are Gianluigi Donnarumma and Suso. It seems the homegrown player from Milano will be leaving for the rivals Juve, which definitely won’t sit well with Milanisti.

How would De Sciglio fit in at Juventus? 

It’s no secret the fullback was a favourite of Massimiliano Allegri back in his Milan days – and still is today. A big part of De Sciglio wanting to move is most likely because of the man standing behind the touchline. Realistically, in the 4-2-3-1 Allegri deploys, De Sciglio would be fighting Dani Alves for the right-back spot in that lineup. Because of how strong that Juve side is, I would expect him to fit in well with players he’s familiar with from the Italian National Team. Especially if they win the Champions League this season, replacing Lichtsteiner and/or Dani Alves with a younger, Italian fullback for a relatively low price would be a good move for the current title holders.

In other words, yes, De Sciglio would fit in just fine at Juventus.

Suitable replacement for Milan?

Sky Italia reported earlier today that should Mattia De Sciglio leave for Juventus, Milan will look to Napoli’s Faouzi Ghoulam, the 26-year-old Algerian who’s registered 7 assists in all competitions so far this season. He’s valued at around 20 million euros, which shouldn’t be a problem with funds available. The real question is if Ghoulam is an upgrade to De Sciglio. If you asked 100 Milanisti, it would probably be a 50/50 split. With that being said, if the player’s desire is to leave for a rival, Ghoulam would be welcomed with open arms. He surely adds a more offensive threat on the left side, being able to get more involved in the attack and create more chances with a key pass or cross.

It should be an interesting summer mercato. If the Rossoneri are not able to hold on to the 6th spot and qualify for Europa League qualification, it will be hard to say who will arrive and who will leave. However, if Mattia De Sciglio chooses to depart, the new ownership will be ready to replace him, to kickstart the “new Milan.”

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Three key points from Napoli’s draw vs Sassuolo http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/three-key-points-napolis-draw-vs-sassuolo/ http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/three-key-points-napolis-draw-vs-sassuolo/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:10:26 +0000 http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/?p=79731 Napoli and Sassuolo battled to a 2-2 draw at Mapei Stadium on Sunday. The Partenopei wanted a victory to keep the pressure on Roma for second-place, but weren’t able to accomplish their goal. Errors plagued the side and caused both of the Neroverdi’s goals and, inevitably, the draw. Napoli did find a positive through Arkadiusz […]

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Napoli and Sassuolo battled to a 2-2 draw at Mapei Stadium on Sunday.

The Partenopei wanted a victory to keep the pressure on Roma for second-place, but weren’t able to accomplish their goal. Errors plagued the side and caused both of the Neroverdi’s goals and, inevitably, the draw. Napoli did find a positive through Arkadiusz Milik’s goal, but the fight for second-place has only gotten harder. Here are three key points to look at from Napoli’s draw on Sunday.

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Napoli should strongly consider cashing in on Mertens this summer http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/napoli-should-strongly-consider-selling-dries-mertens-this-summer/ http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/napoli-should-strongly-consider-selling-dries-mertens-this-summer/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:00:03 +0000 http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/?p=79683 Dries Mertens’ herculean efforts carrying Napoli through a dubious phase of the campaign was nothing short of remarkable, and, in actuality, deserves its own tribute. But, does his future lie in Italy? Since arriving from PSV Eindhoven in June 2013 for an estimated €9,5m euros, the winger’s versatility always seemed to shine, though predominantly in […]

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Dries Mertens’ herculean efforts carrying Napoli through a dubious phase of the campaign was nothing short of remarkable, and, in actuality, deserves its own tribute. But, does his future lie in Italy?

Since arriving from PSV Eindhoven in June 2013 for an estimated €9,5m euros, the winger’s versatility always seemed to shine, though predominantly in a bench role. Mertens was always observed as an impact sub by most Serie A aficionados. Only six of his 33 total appearances last season were from the start, meaning he was the third, fourth or sometimes fifth option behind local boy Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon, Manolo Gabbiadini and Gonzalo Higuain.

To acquire the necessary minutes to truly solidify himself as a top player in Italy, Mertens had to leap many hurdles, and that’s exactly what he’s done in a big way during this 2016-17 breakout campaign. Gonzalo Higuain’s ugly divorce from the Partenopei was a call to arms as replacing the Argentine – and his 36 goals  – stood as a near impossible feat. Arkadiusz Milik, tasked with filling the capocannoniere’s output, erupted in the early stages, but his season was later derailed through a severe cruciate ligament tear during international duty with Poland in October. Desperate for answers, Maurizio Sarri called on super-sub Dries Mertens to pick up the pieces. And boy, has the Belgian delivered.

Statistically, Mertens is enjoying his best season yet in Naples, capitalizing fully on the opportunity Sarri presented him as the false nine. Centrally in the 4-3-3, Mertens’ stat-line (Serie A play) jumps off the page: 30 appearances, 22 goals, 8 assists. Collectively throughout all competitions, the 29-year old Leuven-born boasts staggering tallies of 28 goals and 12 assists, proving he is highly effective and adept in virtually any attacking role.

Napoli’s forward from Belgium Dries Mertens celebrates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Sassuolo vs Napoli, on April 23, 2017 at Reggio Emilia’s ‘Mapei’ communal stadium. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO

Given that Mertens is among the contenders for this year’s capocannoniere and is a household name in not only Italy, but Europe, it begs the questions: should Napoli consider selling if a proper offer arrives?

According to Mediaset Premium, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United are set to engage in a transfer war this summer for Mertens as it’s reported Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis would let him walk for £25m – or roughly 30 million euros. That is nearly THREE times the amount they paid for him four years ago when he was a 26 year old entering his prime. Assuming Napoli do in fact sell Mertens, the haul could be massive in revamping the squad.

Goalkeeper, regardless if the Belgian leaves or not, remains top priority come June and could easily be amended. (Alex Meret?) Defensively, Napoli would benefit a great deal from adding a young central defender to partner Kalidou Koulibaly, as Nikola Maksimovic’s failed to carry his Torino form to southern Italy. Not to mention, his £21m obligation provides no guarantees next season. The midfield offers plenty and is virtually set with a blend of experience and budding youth. Looking into the attack, there is a lot to like; creative, technically sound and offering plenty of tactical flexibility. But perhaps they could explore the market and look to add a pure striker; one with size, the height advantage to win his share of aerial battles and give the Azzurri a different attacking dimension. Leonardo Pavoletti’s big €18m January move from Genoa has been anything but a hit, meaning there is a strong chance he could also head to the exit. What can be considered the strongest area of the squad may in fact become a focus this summer.

As we’ve seen with Juventus, you need to depth in all departments in order to keep pace over a long season. Recent years has shown us the ‘Old Lady’ can be tested, but in the end, their class by the bunches up and down the pitch always proved to be too much for any league counterpart to handle. Eventually, changes need to be made, and players must be sold in order to bring about the proper pieces to the puzzle. Considering Milik’s worked his way back from injury, and Insigne’s penned a well overdue extension, the Partenopei would be wise to consider capitalizing on the Belgian’s exploits. His value is unlikely to soar any higher than it has this season in Naples, and at his expense, Napoli could finally give Juventus a run for their money.

You can follow my football ramblings and various workings on Twitter @Matt_Santangelo.

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Matchday 33: AC Milan player ratings v Empoli http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/matchday-33-ac-milan-player-ratings-v-empoli/ http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/matchday-33-ac-milan-player-ratings-v-empoli/#respond Sun, 23 Apr 2017 15:41:00 +0000 http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/?p=79698 AC Milan falter at home to Empoli 2-1 as efforts for another thrilling comeback fall short. Here is how we rated the Rossoneri players on Sunday. Starters Gianluigi Donnarumma (7.0): The teenager perhaps could have done better to deny Mchedlidze of the opener, but he was let down on several occasions by his defense. Donnarumma managed to […]

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AC Milan falter at home to Empoli 2-1 as efforts for another thrilling comeback fall short.

Here is how we rated the Rossoneri players on Sunday.

Starters

Gianluigi Donnarumma (7.0): The teenager perhaps could have done better to deny Mchedlidze of the opener, but he was let down on several occasions by his defense. Donnarumma managed to bail out defensive lapses with a few late saves but it was not enough to salvage anything from the match.

Davide Calabria (6.5): A bit of an inconsistent performance today by the Italy U21 fullback. Calabria’s crosses were crisp and on target, but defensively, he’s got work to do. Too many times he was out of position today.

Cristian Zapata (6.5): The hero in last week’s Milan Derby, Zapata returned with a rather shaky performance. In spurts, Zapata can be a strong defender and bring a lot to the pitch, but consistency is his biggest weakness.

Gabriel Paletta (6.5): Paletta’s been benched over the past few weeks due to Zapata’s recent run of good form, yet he managed to turn in a decent showing, connecting on countless long balls to switch play and remaining defensively sturdy.

Mattia De Sciglio (5.5): For the most part, Mattia’s been strong this season. Today, however, that simply wasn’t the case as he did little to nothing – on both ends of the pitch – to help the Rossoneri earn a positive result.

Mario Pasalic (6.0): Consistency has been Mario’s key concern this season. Often times, the Croatian turns in a solid effort and makes his presence known, but then there is the occasional match like today where he goes missing and fails to make the most of his chances.

Jose Sosa (6.0): After Locatelli’s top performance last week in the Derby, calls from the Milanisti for him start rained over the web. Montella elected to stick with Sosa, and it backfired. Yes, he delivered some quality balls and supplied the assist on the Lapadula goal, but from this position, Milan need more.

Mati Fernandez (5.5): 26 passes completed for a starting midfielder in a match where Milan dominated possession. Silent.

Suso (6.5): The Spaniard’s weaving and movement in the final third did not waver, however his penalty take was woeful and thus, resulted in Milan earning nothing from this one.

Gianluca Lapadula (7.0): AC Milan’s hard-working forward had his chances to grab more than just the one goal today, however, there is no denying that his overall play suits this team much more than Bacca.

Gerard Deulofeu (7.0): Deulofeu was once again dangerous on the left flank, beating his marker with elite pace and skill. Crosses were dropped in well, but the finishing from the rest of the team spoiled these chances.

Substitutions

Carlos Bacca (5.5): The Colombian played over 30 minutes, and had just 9 touches. Says it all really.

Lucas Ocampos (6.0): Far too many times, Ocampos’ final ball either missed its intended target or ended up in the seats. Like many others in the side, way too inconsistent.

Keisuke Honda (n/a): The fact we actually saw Honda take the field was a shock. Nothing of note to assess.

 

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Giovinco Watch #18: Seba “fired” up, dominates Chicago http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/giovinco-watch-18-seba-fired-dominates-chicago/ http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/giovinco-watch-18-seba-fired-dominates-chicago/#respond Sat, 22 Apr 2017 18:25:54 +0000 http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/?p=79674 Giovinco Watch #18 April 21, 2017 Toronto FC (3) Chicago Fire (1) Weather: Overcast  11C/ 50F Attendance: 27,097 Sebastian Giovinco and TFC came into this match off of a disappointing performance in the first seasonal encounter of the “Trillium Cup”, defeated by a Columbus Crew side courtesy of a 10 minute defensive blackout.  The presence of […]

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Giovinco Watch #18

April 21, 2017
Toronto FC (3) Chicago Fire (1)
Weather: Overcast  11C/ 50F
Attendance: 27,097

Sebastian Giovinco and TFC came into this match off of a disappointing performance in the first seasonal encounter of the “Trillium Cup”, defeated by a Columbus Crew side courtesy of a 10 minute defensive blackout.  The presence of the fresh face (to the MLS, at least) of Bastian Schweinsteiger added some pepper to a match that promised to reserve some spark. And so it was. The Fire come into this game strong of two consecutive wins and a draw against Montreal Impact, with the former World Champion contributing already to his new team’s points tally, and with Nemanja Nikolic taking on the role of absolute protagonist by leading his side with an impressive 4 goals in 6 matches.

From the very first minutes of the match it was clear that BMO was in for some Giovinco spectacle. In the 10th minute he tested his right foot with a shot that barely missed the top left corner, and two minutes later a shot from outside the box was gathered by Chicago’s goalkeeper Jorge Bava. Only 5 minutes after that Giovinco shoots again, an angled shot that Bava deflects away into corner kick.

At the 24thminute, the Atomic Ant breaks the ice: a run along the top of the box is finished off with a low shot that beats Bava to his right. 1-0 Toronto FC.

Six minutes later Giovinco earns a free kick outside of the box, off to the right of Bava. Despite the less-than-ideal angle, Giovinco’s free kick forces Bava to deflect the ball away into corner. On the ensuing corner kick, Morrow gets the ball along the left side, and crosses it for Zavaleta who heads the ball in. 2-0 Toronto FC.

Right before the end of the half, Giovinco tries to replicate his goal, but the ball ends up wide of goal to end a half that Toronto FC dominated.

After the break Giovinco warms up his foot once again with a free kick, which forces Bava into a corner kick once again. The game at that point slowed down in tempo, with Chicago almost never giving Bono any headaches. Toronto comes close with a few chances, most notably one by Vasquez, but it’s largely ordinary administration by the home side.

At the 81st minute, Giovinco earns himself a free kick about 25 yards out. Watch:

 

3-1 Toronto FC. Shortly after that Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney decides to allow Giovinco a breather and give some playing time to his teammates on the bench, which the Italian doesn’t appreciate and shows his frustration by steaming into the TFC dressing room beating down some ropes along the way.

A few minutes later Accam scored Chicago’s loan goal, to no avail. Altidore nearly made it 4-1, but Bava superseded himself to parry it into corner kick and keep the score at 3-1 for the home side.

 

Post-Game

 

“The game was opening up and Seba knew this, so perhaps he wanted to stay on to score more goals. But I have 30 men on this roster to manage, wanted to add a midfielder on at that point in order to close the game out and also wanted to give the crowd an opportunity to show their appreciation to Giovinco for his great effort tonight. I’ll talk to him”, explained Greg Vanney in the post game presser.

Alas, Giovinco was unavailable for comment.

 

 

Giovinco’s Key Moments as narrated live on Twitter (@ItalianFD)

10′: Giovinco off to a lively start. Takes a shot from 20 yards out that just misses the top left corner.

12′: Giovinco’s weak shot is gathered by Chicago’s Bava.

17′: Giovinco’s angled shot is parried away by Bravo.

24′: Giovinco earns a free kick. It’s on net, but easily gobbled up by Bava.

28′: TFC GOAL: GIOVINCO! The Italian slots a low shot to the right of Bava to give the home side the advantage.

31′: Giovinco free kick, saved by Bravo. Toronto corner.

32′: TFC GOAL! Morrow crosses, Zavaleta heads the ball passed Bava.

40′: Giovinco tries to replicate his 1-0 goal but it ends up wide to Bava’s right this time.

46′: Giovinco’s free kick parried away from Bava.

82′: TFC GOAL! GIOVINCO TAKES OUT THE COBWEBS OUT OF THE TOP LEFT CORNER.

84′: Schweinsteiger and Giovinco both subbed off by their respective coaches. The Italian doesn’t appreciate it, storms off into the dressing room knocking down ropes en route.

 

Giovinco’s Key Stats (via Opta)

Shots = 11
On target = 6
Take ons won: 1
Passes = 49
Passing accuracy = 84%

 

Giovinco’s match rating 8.0

Giovinco looked his liveliest this season in this match. He was all over the pitch in the first half, scoring two goals (third of the season) always looking dangerous, winning the ball back and switching the play. In the second half Giovinco’s influence was diminished as Toronto slowed down the tempo of the match and administered the advantage, until Giovinco’s free kick which wowed BMO. Alas, he showed some weakness in character by letting out his frustrations publicly after being subbed out.

 

MVP Watch – League Stats:

Goals = 3
Assist = 0
Shots = 34
Shots on Goal = 13
Games remaining = 28

 

Giovinco’s Next Game:

Friday, April 28 vs Houston Dynamo 7:30 PM- BMO Field

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Zola: struggling to bring the magic to the bench http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/zola-struggling-bring-magic-bench/ http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/zola-struggling-bring-magic-bench/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 12:11:31 +0000 http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/?p=79626 The beautiful game often provides those who are lucky enough to become playing professionals with the opportunity extend their careers long after they have retired. Sometimes though this doesn’t always equate to a successful career in management. It is often expected that great players will eventually become great managers, using their knowledge and perceived smarts to continue their […]

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The beautiful game often provides those who are lucky enough to become playing professionals with the opportunity extend their careers long after they have retired. Sometimes though this doesn’t always equate to a successful career in management.

It is often expected that great players will eventually become great managers, using their knowledge and perceived smarts to continue their brilliant careers for years to come. However,  great players aren’t necessarily destined for a great career in management – it has been proven multiple times.  The opposite frequently occurs: more often than not, average players are able to craft amazing managerial careers and are more successful then they were in their playing days. Names such as Sir Alex Ferguson, José Mourinho, Max Allegri and Giovanni Trapattoni are names that often come to mind to this regard. Gianfranco Zola seems to provide an example of the difficulty, and perhaps the failure, of transitioning from a successful playing career into that of a successful as well as  competent managerial career.

Zola himself was a phenomenal player; from his early days at Napoli alongside Maradona, to Parma and then his utterly brilliant displays for Chelsea, where he was affectionately nicknamed the magic box. However way you wish to view his playing career, Zola was considered a delightfully skilful forward who always managed to attain the respect of his club, fellow players, managers and fansRetiring at his beloved Cagliari, aged 39, many believed he would seamlessly transition into a coaching role which is considered a natural progression for a player of his quality, skill and respect. Sadly, Zola seems to lack to correct tactical nous seen in colleagues such as Claudio Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte and Roberto Mancini – to name but a few who have gone on to successfully lift titles in their storied careers.

Zola’s first role as a fully fledged manager would see the former striker take on an enormous challenge at West Ham in 2010. Despite a somewhat shaky start Zola eventually instilled a certain confidence into his players, who began to play with plenty of flair, in contrast to the typeset that was often seen at the Hammers at the time. With this style of play he often garnered plenty of respect and applause for making a mid to low table team play attractive football with their limited resources. Sadly though, his tenure would be marked with plenty of ups and downs, and the team would still find themselves closer to the relegation places than their style deserved. The season would end with West Ham in 17th and, consequently, Zola was promptly dismissed. Personally I enjoyed watching one of my favourite players take the reigns and implement his swagger for a lack of a better word via his management.

His next role would see him take on the Pozzo-owned Watford, who at that time were in the Championship, and looking to push for promotion to the Premier league. Zola had a contrast in fortunes as he managed to push Watford to a 3rd place finish, which saw them participating in play-offs to vie for a promotion spot. Unfortunately, Watford would lose to Crystal Palace in a thrilling encounter to see their hopes dashed for that season. During his second year at Watford, the team once again had traits of a Zola team as they struggled for their previous years form and were 13th half way through the season. Zola promptly submitted his resignation. It is felt that, had Zola fought it out to the end of the season, he may have been able to find the team’s form and push for promotion once again.

Zola’s next challenge would be his beloved Cagliari, in which he would take over a struggling side from Serie A folkloristic manager Zdenek Zeman. Once again, however, Zola would not last long, as he was unable to push Cagliari out of the relegation zone just three months into his tenure. Ironically, Zeman would return after his dismissal. Surprisingly, Zola would try his hand in the Qatar Stars League in which once again his team, Al-Arabi, struggled, finishing 8th with a disappointing record of 10 wins out of 26 games. A decent learning curve, yet not one to garner respect and credibility in Europe.

Finally he would return to England, a home away from home it seems for the former Chelsea star. He would take the reins at struggling Birmingham City, in which he once again tried to implement an elegant style, very similar to that during his time at West Ham and Watford. He resigned after being unable to overturn their poor season, characterised by a shocking record of 2 wins in 24 games – a win ratio of just 8.7% and the worst in Birmingham’s storied history: a blight on Zola’s already struggling managerial career.

Should Zola continue to take to on head-coaching duties in the future?

Zola’s managerial career possesses more lows than highs and taking this into consideration it might be better off for the former Italian international to take a couple of steps back in order to take a couple steps forward, for his career to really take off. There is nothing wrong with going back and becoming an assistant manager under an already successful coach, in order to hone his craft. After all, he jumped right into the hot seat at West Ham well before receiving his UEFA coaching accreditation. Admirable yes ,and quite the baptism of fire, yet one can’t help but feel that a lack of experience working under another experienced coach has hindered his career which up until this point has contained more lows then the rare high.

Another difference is that in England there is a renowned stigma associated with being fired from a head-coaching position, especially in the Premier League, where both clubs and countless managers have commented on the inability to get back into work. Unless you have a reputation for succeeding in certain aspects of the game, like a Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis who are known for keeping sides in the top flight and surviving relegation battles, it is tough to get back. José Mourinho is another exception but given his title winning credentials is in another lane entirely from the aforementioned managers.

If an assistants role is below Zola, than why not head to a lower league club in Italy’s Serie C/B? Zola would be allowed to cut his teeth without the unnecessary pressure that comes from the Premier League or Serie A and learn as much as he possibly could. Italian clubs are generally more forgiving (unless your name is Zamparini) and will give managers multiple chances to prove themselves. This has created a positive culture for coaches to develop their tactics and know how which is in stark contrast to England. For Zola this is what he may need in order to get his career back on track.

Only time will tell whether he will be remembered more for his playing days, then his managerial.

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UCL Quarterfinal 2nd leg: Juventus player ratings vs. Barcelona http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/ucl-quarterfinal-2nd-leg-juventus-player-ratings-vs-barcelona/ http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/ucl-quarterfinal-2nd-leg-juventus-player-ratings-vs-barcelona/#respond Wed, 19 Apr 2017 21:03:43 +0000 http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/?p=79663 A mix of Barcelona’s wasted chances and a defensively-sound Juventus saw the Old Lady of Italian football book their place in the Champions League semi-finals alongside Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Monaco after drawing Barcelona at the Nou Camp 0-0 (0-3 aggregate). Here’s how we rated i bianconeri: (4-2-3-1) Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (6): Dealt with […]

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A mix of Barcelona’s wasted chances and a defensively-sound Juventus saw the Old Lady of Italian football book their place in the Champions League semi-finals alongside Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Monaco after drawing Barcelona at the Nou Camp 0-0 (0-3 aggregate).

Here’s how we rated i bianconeri:

(4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper:

Gianluigi Buffon (6): Dealt with everything that challenged him. Never looked out of his element. (Does he, ever?)

Defenders:

Dani Alves (6.5): The Brazilian dealt with national teammate Neymar rather masterfully, denying the Barcelona no. 11 any space down the right flank. Alves also broke up plays in the center where he drifted to from time to time.

Giorgio Chiellini (7.5): With the heart of a lion, the Italian gracefully shut down Barcelona’s defense through every which way he was involved.

Leonardo Bonucci (7): Chiellini’s right-hand man was a bit quieter than his compatriot but nonetheless dealt with Messi and Co. with class.

Alex Sandro (6): The Brazilian didn’t get as forward as he would have liked to, however, roamed through his area down the left flank with confidence and composure and kept his area relatively tidy.

Midfielders:

Miralem Pjanic (5.5): The Bosnian didn’t have his best game for Juventus but still controlled the tempo with his German compatriot.

Sami Khedira (6.5): Worked as an extension of the back line in the midfield alongside Pjanic. Disrupted plays and slowed the tempo down to his own liking. A quiet, but very impactful match from the German.

Forwards:

Juan Cuadrado (7.5): Tireless performance from the Colombian. By far Juventus’ most dangerous player on the night. Constantly beat defenders up and down his wing, made countless tackles and created many chances for his teammates as well. Came off for Lemina in the 83rd minute.

Paulo Dybala (6): Was the focal point of almost every Juve attack and constantly pressured the Barca defense when not in possession of the ball which caused a few dangerous turnovers.

Mario Mandzukic (5): Was more involved in the second half. Always provided an outlet down the left side of Juventus’ attack. Was not used nearly as much as Cuadrado’s right flank.

Gonzalo Higuain (5): Could have had a goal or two in the first half had he taken his chances better. Got into great positions but, like Barcelona, forgot his finishing boots.

Substitutes:

Andrea Barzagli (5): Did his job in the 15 minutes given.

Mario Lemina (N/A): Instantly impacted the match as the Gabonese charged forward and had a shot deflected for a corner in the 83rd minute.

Kwadwo Asamoah (N/A): Came on in the 88th minute to really help pin back the Barcelona defense.

Coach:

Massimiliano Allegri (8): The Italian tactician has created a Juventus squad that is truly formidable enough to face the giants of Europe and handily defeat them.

The Champions League semi-final draw will be held in Switzerland this Friday, April 21st at 5 AM EST.

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Sold! Let’s Talk AC Milan Transfer Rumors http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/sold-lets-talk-ac-milan-transfer-rumors/ http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/sold-lets-talk-ac-milan-transfer-rumors/#respond Wed, 19 Apr 2017 15:39:30 +0000 http://www.italianfootballdaily.com/?p=79635 Finally, after eight months of negotiations, postponements, and massive uncertainty over the heads of the investors, AC Milan was sold by Silvio Berlusconi to Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux last Thursday, headed by Club chairman Yonghong Li. Following the official statement, new Rossoneri CEO Marco Fassone revealed to the entire media that the summer mercato budget […]

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Finally, after eight months of negotiations, postponements, and massive uncertainty over the heads of the investors, AC Milan was sold by Silvio Berlusconi to Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux last Thursday, headed by Club chairman Yonghong Li.

Following the official statement, new Rossoneri CEO Marco Fassone revealed to the entire media that the summer mercato budget will be a big one, fueling massive speculation inside the Milan camp on the transfer front. Fast forward a few days and now the club is being tied to several expensive stars, leading us all to believe that we are in for an eventful summer.

Without further ado, let’s talk transfer rumors, starting with the names running through the rumor mill.

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