Category: Serie A


The most expensive man in football - but is Gareth Bale enough for Real Madrid to overturn their arch-rivals, in Spain or in Europe? (Image via faniq)

The most expensive man in football – but is Gareth Bale enough for Real Madrid to overturn their arch-rivals, in Spain or in Europe? (Image via faniq)

It has to be said – we are all relieved that the football season is now back in action. A lot of transfers have occurred this summer with a lot of teams willing to spend immense sums, such as Real Madrid and Barcelona (on Gareth Bale and Neymar respectively), and others choosing not to break the bank such as Manchester United.

The Armchair Pundits takes a look at the potential fortunes of the big 3 in Europe and offer predictions of who will be league champions in their respective countries.

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Ben Watson's 90th minute header confirmed the biggest headline in football this week (Image | The Sun)

Ben Watson’s 90th minute header confirmed the biggest headline in football this week (Image | The Sun)

Last week may have seen the first significant news of the football off-season, but it certainly wasn’t the last. Following the retirement of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, and David Moyes’ arrival at Old Trafford as his successor, there has been plenty more big news in the past seven days.

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Paulo di Canio will be celebrating a step forward in his managerial career - but does he have what it takes to save Sunderland? (Image | Getty)

Paulo di Canio will be celebrating a step forward in his managerial career – but does he have what it takes to save Sunderland? (Image | Getty)

Sunderland made a bold decision yesterday in hiring highly flammable but little-tested Italian Paulo Di Canio as their new manager in the midst of a relegation battle. The first question that came to my mind, however, was: is Di Canio really the ideal candidate for a team fighting to stave off relegation?

There’s no denying that the controversial Di Canio is a talented manager; his Swindon charges certainly seemed inspired to greater things by him based on the club’s dip in form following his departure. But the Sunderland post presents new challenges to Di Canio.

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Spellbinding | Ajax’s two mesmerising performances against Manchester City have put Dutch football back on the map after a long spell on the sidelines. (Image | Getty)

This week in Europe may have turned into the week of the comeback for the English quartet, but there can be little doubt, if any lingered, that the Premier League’s finest are no longer Europe’s dominant force.

Remember that spell when there were three English clubs in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League every year between 2008 and 2010?

At this time, footballing knowledge suggested that the continent had been conquered by Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. Well, can you really see that happening this year?

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Not so super? | This could be a regular match-up should the European Super League ever be seriously considered by the powers that be. (Image | Bleacher Report)

The European Super League. It has been talked about for a long time, but will it ever actually happen? Writing in September 2012 and looking ahead, in two years time a European Super League could be on the agenda.

This is because in 2014 the agreement that is in place between FIFA, UEFA and Europe’s leading clubs expires. As the leader of the European Club AssociationKarl-Heinz Rummenigge points out, said teams will be free to do what they want. However, would they actually look to create a super league?

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Hopefully Sky Sports will appreciate how long this took and won’t try to sue us. Please. (Image | Sky Sports, very graciously)

Deadline day once again produced its usual mix of excitement, hyperbole and confusion yesterday, with a standard assortment of a couple of ‘blockbuster’ moves and many, many loan deals done between Premier League teams and lower-league clubs.

As is our duty, though, we’ve dredged through the rumours, the hopes and the hogwash to bring you the ten most intriguing deals of yesterday’s shopping frenzy…

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Staying on the island | English footballers rarely take up the opportunity to play abroad, and it is an extremely infrequent occurrence in modern football in this country. (Image | Football)

Two decades since the formation of the Premier League and the football landscape in this country has changed dramatically. The Taylor Report brought in all-seater stadia; the advent of television money has resulted in TV rights increasing from £50m in 1992 to £3bn today; the availability of talented Englishmen has dropped precipitously as the league has filled with foreign-born footballers, and home-grown players no longer ply their trade abroad. Why?

There are several ways of approaching this, but the most obvious is money. Players in England benefit from a laissez faire wage structure – indeed structure is arguably too generous a term. Clubs pay players what they want, and the more desirable an individual is, the greater the outlay will be from the side that wishes to retain or purchase them. Wages of £100,000-plus per week are commonplace, creating a safety net for English footballers who are of sufficient ability to be remunerated so generously.

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Kissing goodbye? Robin van Persie has signalled his intent to walk away from Arsenal at the end of next season, opening the way for a likely transfer departure this summer (Image | footballholic.net)

You know how sometimes you take a big gamble on something, knowing that if it pays off you’re in a fantastic position? Well, sometimes that gamble falls flat on its face and leaves you facing a catastrophe.

That’s kind of how Arsenal probably feel this afternoon.

Robin van Persie has announced via his official website today that, because he and the club “in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward”, he no longer has any intention of extending his current contract, which has a year left to run.

Arsenal’s big summer plans, centred around the already-sealed arrival of Lukas Podolski and the almost confirmed signing of Olivier Giroud, have supposedly left them in a far stronger position to attack the Manchester clubs in next season’s Premier League. That, however, all hinged around van Persie.

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Passed it | Andrea Pirlo was careless discarded by AC Milan, but he still drives both Italy and Juventus even late on in his distinguished career. (Image | Metro)

At the ripe old age of 33, you might be forgiven for thinking that Andrea Pirlo was no more than a fringe-player, a bastion of experience on the periphery of the Italian squad; however, the Azzuri’s three games at this year’s European Championships have proven quite the opposite. Pirlo is still the central figure for the Italian national squad.

Having moved from AC Milan to Juventus on a free transfer last summer, Pirlo enjoyed an outstanding season for his new club, starting 37 league games (a career best), scoring three goals, providing 13 assists and adding a touch of class to the Juventus midfield.

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Allegations: The investigation into Lazio midfielder Stefano Mauri has inevitably drawn comparisons with the highly-damaging 2006 scandal. (Image | The Daily Mirror)

Lazio captain Stefano Mauri has been arrested by police investigating fresh allegations of match-fixing in Italian football. Head coach of Juventus, Antonio Conte, is also being questioned, as well as Domenico Criscito, a member of Italy’s 25-man squad for the European Championships.

In 2006 the match-fixing scandal commonly referred to as “Calciopoli” emerged. It resulted in the demotion of Juve, who were stripped of two Serie A titles, and points deductions for other teams, including AC Milan and Fiorentina.

The events of this year were extremely damaging for Italian football, in particular prompting the mass exodus of star players from Turin, and affecting the quality and reputation of the Serie A. According to the BBC’s Alan Johnston, the investigation has been going on for some time.

“For many months now this investigation into match-fixing in the Italian game has been widening and deepening. While up to now much of the suspicion has fallen on teams and players in the lower divisions of the game, the prestigious Serie A is increasingly being drawn into the scandal.

“More painful and damaging, allegations and revelations lie ahead.”

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