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Sampdoria 2-1 Atalanta: Problems with Gasperini’s Man Marking Highlighted

Sampdoria welcomed Atalanta to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris for the second round of 2016-17 Serie A season fixtures on Sunday 28 August. The home side, coached by Marco Giampaolo, had won their first game of the campaign, defeating Empoli 1-0. However, the away side, coached by Gian Piero Gasperini, had lost a thrilling opener 4-3 to Lazio. (more…)

Pescara 2-2 Napoli: Penetrative Possession Almost Undoes Sarri’s Side

Newly promoted Pescara welcomed last season’s Serie A runners-up Napoli to the Stadio Adriatico on Sunday 21 August in the opening round of 2016-17 fixtures. The home side made a stunning start to their top-flight return, going 2-0 up in the first half thanks to goals from Ahmed Benali and Gianluca Caprari. However, they faded in the second half, with Dries Mertens scoring twice to earn Napoli a 2-2 draw. (more…)

Notes on Roma 4-0 Udinese

Roma defeated Udinese 4-0 in the opening round of 2016-17 Serie A fixtures, with two goals coming from Diego Perotti (both penalties) and one each from Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah. (more…)

Notes on Juventus 2-1 Tottenham (pre-season)

Some tactical notes on Juventus and Tottenham’s pre-season friendly meeting. Juventus won 2-1 thanks to goals from Paulo Dybala and Mehdi Benatia. (more…)

Analysing Antonio Conte’s Preliminary Italy Squad For Euro 2016

On Monday, Italy national team head coach Antonio Conte announced his thirty-man preliminary squad ahead of this summer’s European Championships. For some, the announcement gave opportunity for one final condemnation of Conte’s conservative selection policy. For others, it served as a powerful reminder of the supposed paucity of quality players available to the Azzurri and, in turn, pointed towards an apparent decline in the productive capacity of the country’s football system. (more…)

An Analysis Of Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli

Napoli made a potentially historic decision last summer in hiring 57-year-old former banker Maurizio Sarri as head coach to fill the void left by Rafa Benitez, who departed for Real Madrid. Last season the club finished fifth in Serie A but currently they sit second, nine points behind reigning champions Juventus. For much of this season they looked capable of ending their long wait for a scudetto, which they have not won since 1990, though a recent loss of form appears to have put paid to that ambition. (more…)

Leonardo Bonucci: The Soldier

Being confronted by an armed robber is the type of occurrence that generally offers only negative outcomes. Rationally, with the alternative being hurt or even killed, the immediate reaction would be to hand over whatever is asked for, without question. It’s the sort of traumatising experience that would seem impossible to prepare for, unimaginably difficult to deal with. The notion of confronting the robber wouldn’t cross the minds of most, yet this is exactly what Leonardo Bonucci did. (more…)

Juventus 1-0 Napoli: Little To Separate Two Sound Defences

Juventus hosted Napoli last Saturday night in what amounted to a crucial clash of Scudetto contenders. Going into the match, Napoli topped Serie A on 56 points, while Juventus sat just below them on 54. The most important news in the lead-up to this game was that Giorgio Chiellini would be out through injury. The left-sided centre-back is not only vital to Juventus’ defensive line but also to their possession game. Hence, his absence was agonised over. (more…)

Juventus vs. Napoli: Daniele Rugani Pass

Massimiliano Allegri had doubts about including Daniele Rugani prior to Juventus’ hosting Napoli on Saturday night. He shouldn’t have been concerned. (more…)

Gonzalo Higuain: Functional, Conventional And The World’s Best Number Nine

We live in a footballing epoch of false everything. The game’s progression has given rise to strikers, wingers and advanced playmakers who aren’t really just strikers, wingers and advanced playmakers. At the highest level, purity within an attacking position is increasingly rare as forward players become more intelligent in their movements and more organised in their defensive work. In these circumstances, the more conventional are often underappreciated. Perhaps that is why Gonzalo Higuain, a number nine so true as to be borderline unfashionable, has been disregarded in comparison to his more sophisticated peers. (more…)