Previewing Serie A Clubs for the Rest of the Season (Part Three)

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Just in case you didn’t know, the Serie A season is only two days from resuming once again! It’s going down to the wire! So, here’s my article previewing Serie A clubs for the rest of the season (part three).

Bologna

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Not too long ago, I said that Bologna is one of my top four underrated clubs for the rest of the season. One thing that is persistent among clubs around midtable is their inconsistency in terms of results and that’s no different than Bologna this season. Of course, they’ve done decently given the squad at their disposal. Their attack has become one of the most deadly in the league with Palacio and Orsolini headlining it. Of course, on their day, backlines dislike facing them. However, defensively they need to improve if they want to move up in the table. Sinisa Mihajlovic has done a great job managing them this season, though.

Parma

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My admiration for Parma and their manager, Roberto D’aversa is clear. However, they’ve backed that up with results this season. As I’ve mentioned, their counterattack is one of the deadliest in the league. They also defend well. Unfortunately, their brightest player this season, Dejan Kulusevski, probably won’t play for them next season, as Juve signed him in January and loaned back to Parma for the rest of this season. However, Parma should definitely take advantage of the time he still has with the club. Beware of them!

Hellas Verona

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I never expected Hellas Verona to be this good at the beginning of the season. I thought that for sure they’d be relegated at the end of this season. However, they’ve impressed so many calcio fans. Veloso and Amrabat have been rocks in the middle of the park, Kumbulla and Faraoni have been solid at the back as well. Even upfront, they’ve played well. The majority of the credit has to go to Ivan Juric. He’s done a stellar job with the squad so far and I can’t wait to watch them for the rest of the season!

AC Milan

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At the start of this season, things seemed like they were going up for Milan. They hired Giampaolo, who seemed like a great coach for the rossoneri. However, at the beginning of the season, they got off to a horrendous start and Giampaolo got sacked. Stefano Piolo got hired for the job and so far, he’s done a good job with them. I’m sure the squad and fans aren’t satisfied with their current place in the table, which is 9th. However, if they keep improving for the rest of the season, anything can happen. They may even qualify for the Europa League next season, who knows?

Napoli

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To say this has been a disappointing season for Napoli is completely right! They went from competing for the scudetto in previous seasons to competing for a spot in European competition this season. Although, ever since Gattuso took the reins of the squad, they’ve improved immensely. They even re-signed Dries Mertens, which may give the whole club a boost for the rest of the season. If they keep playing this way under Gattuso, they could possibly end up in the Champions League next season. They’re 9 points away from catching Atalanta for the final Champions League spot. But, anything can happen.

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Previewing the Second Legs of the Coppa Italia Semifinal Ties

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I’m so excited because the Italian Soccer we’ve all been craving for months will return this Friday and Saturday! The Coppa Italia will return with the second leg of both the Coppa Italia semifinal matches. The first semifinal second leg will take place on Friday between Juve and AC Milan. The other semifinal second leg will take place on Saturday between Napoli and Inter. Here is my article, previewing the second legs of the Coppa Italia Semifinal Ties!

Juventus Vs. AC Milan

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In the first leg, Milan definitely outplayed Juve. However, due to Juve scoring a penalty in stoppage time of the second half, they’re at a bit of a disadvantage going into the second leg in Turin. Before this whole situation, AC Milan was beginning to find themselves once again and we’re challenging for a Europa League spot for next season. Indeed, it seemed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had brought much-needed leadership to the squad. However, he’ll be out of this match with a calf injury. So, it’ll be tough to get a result. Also, going to the Allianz Stadium is already tough to play in, nevermind getting a result. So, it’ll be very difficult to get a favourable result. But, anything is possible.

This season has been shaky so far this season for Juve. Sarri has had trouble implementing his preferred style of play because of Juve’s lack of creative midfielders. Even, in the first leg, Juve didn’t look at their best, whatsoever. They got outplayed for basically the whole match. As a Juve fan, it was definitely frustrating to watch. Despite that, they were able to get the job done and secure the advantage heading into the second leg. Having an advantage will definitely help to go into the second leg at home. However, with no crowd, the home advantage may not apply for Juve in this match.

Napoli Vs. Inter

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At the beginning of the current season, Inter were flying high and seemed like the Serie A contender many thought they should be before it started. However, as the season progressed, their performances began to decline. Even, in the first leg of this semifinal match against Napoli, they looked shaky. Although, they may have felt that they should’ve got a result. The match was also at the Stadio San Siro, so that was a big blow to them. Hopefully, Conte changes the squad’s formation going into the second leg, as they’ll play away at the Stadio San Paolo.

Napoli was flying high before. Gattuso was rapidly improving the squad and leading them to better results after performing below expectations for the first half of the season. Signing Lobotka in the winter definitely helped them as well. They even have a lead over Inter going into the second leg of their Coppa Italia tie. They’ll also be playing at home which may tremendously help them. The only issue will be the same as every other club in Serie A, which is they’ll be playing behind closed doors. We’ll see if they can replicate their usual form at home with no fans to cheer them on.

Thank you for reading this article! Let me know your predictions for these matches in the comments. If you haven’t already, be sure to follow me on Twitter @calciofanblogs1, on Instagram @calciofanblogs. Be sure to follow and like my Facebook Page, which is Calcio Fan Blogs. Additionally, if you would like to reach out to me via email, write to josephporco6@gmail.com or calciofanblogs@gmail.com.

Here’s Napoli’s goal against Inter in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semifinal tie! Video Via: Youtube-Fon Tifunus

Three Things Napoli Should Do to Turn Things Around This Season

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It’s no secret that Napoli hasn’t been stellar so far this season. Before the season started, I predicted that they’d be Juve’s number one title challenger this season. I was wrong and now for Napoli to qualify for the Champions League next season it’s next to impossible. As a result of this disastrous season for Napoli, I’m doing an article on three ways they can improve. So, get ready for me to be an armchair manager and armchair member of Napoli’s upper-management.

1. TRY TO SIGN A STRIKER IN THE WINTER TRANSFER WINDOW

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Like most things, this is way easier said than done. However, Napoli urgently needs a striker. Last summer and even the one before that, Napoli fans have been wanting their club to sign a proven striker. However, now that Mertens is out, it’s been even more noticeable. Milk has done pretty well and scored 7 goals in 10 game of action so far this season. But, Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon, and Hirving Lozano have only combined for 8 goals in total, so far this season. For players who play as either wingers or strikers, that’s absolutely pathetic! They’re also tied for 8th most goals scored this season as a team with 28 goals, which highlights their problems even more. Listen, there are only close to two weeks left until the January Transfer Window is done, but Napoli’s upper-management should make buying a striker a priority this month.

2. BENCH LORENZO INSIGNE OR REMOVE HIM AS CAPTAIN

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Don’t get me wrong, I’ve admired Lorenzo Insigne as a player throughout his career. However, desperate times call for desperate measures. In this case, it holds true, as Insigne clearly hasn’t been near his best this season and maybe benching him will give him the motivation he needs to perform better. With only 4 goals and 3 assists so far this season, it’s obvious just how below par he’s performing. Also, by benching him and starting someone such as Hirving Lozano, it could improve their frontline and turn things around for them. One other thing that Napoli should consider is stripping his captaincy from him. Now, I’m not fully for this move, as it’s really drastic. But, ever since Hamsik left Napoli and the captain’s armband was given to Lorenzo Insigne, they haven’t performed how they should. There’s some food for thought for Gennaro Gattuso and other members of Napoli’s management.

3. PUT DI LORENZO BACK AT RIGHT-BACK

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Ever since 2020 began, Gattuso decided it’d be a good idea to place Giovanni Di Lorenzo at centre-back, instead of at right-back, where he seemed to be performing well. I understand that Koulibaly is injured. But, it’d be better to place Di Lorenzo at the position he was at before because he doesn’t look comfortable as a central defender. It’s only been a small sample size of two games, but Napoli clearly needs to string together some good results and this would definitely help. Luperto or Tonelli aren’t ideal options to replace injured Koulibaly for the time being. However, it’d be better to place players in that position that are used to playing as central defenders. If Gattuso implements this change, they may actually get the results they want and might actually move up in the Serie A table. Let’s hope Gattuso thinks about this before Napoli’s next match against Fiorentina

How I Became a Juve Fan

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I’ve made it no secret on my blog website, that I’m a bianconero. Indeed, I’ve been a Juventus fan since 2006. It has come with many moments of heartbreak and joy, however, I wouldn’t change it for anything. So, here’s why I became a Juventus fan as well as when I started liking calcio.

THE ORIGINS OF MY SERIE A FANDOM

Basically, ever since I was born, I’ve been a Serie A fan. Growing up, I was born into a family that really liked the Toronto Maple Leafs and of course, calcio. However, it wasn’t until 2006 that I started to become a Juve fan. I remember that when I was growing up, I would wake up early to watch the first Serie A matches of the day on Saturdays and Sundays. This even happens now. I remember, I’d try to watch as many matches as possible. For me, it was something I fell in love with early on. Occasionally, I would watch an English Premier League match, however, it never compared to watching the Serie A, in my opinion. Indeed, I’ve watched Serie A when the likes of Maldini, Del Piero, Totti, Inzaghi, and Figo were in the league to now when Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Insigne are playing in Italy. It’s been a lifelong passion for me and I will keep it that way.

HOW I BECAME A JUVE FAN

Growing up, members of my family were usually either Lazio or Napoli fans. That has to do with the fact that on my mom’s side my nonni (grandparents) came from the province of Frosinone, which is in the province of Lazio. Also, on my dad’s side, my Nonna (grandmother), came from a small town in the region of Campania. My Nonno (grandfather) on my dad’s side, came from a small town in the province of Cosenza in the region of Calabria. So, it’s understandable why many of my relatives root for Napoli and Lazio.

Until a certain moment in 2006, I didn’t have a specific club I was rooting for. However, in February of 2006, I remember watching a huge match between Juve and Inter, which was big for both clubs, as, at that time it would possibly decide the Scudetto winner that season. It was tied 1-1 and my favourite player of all-time, Del Piero, was taking a freekick that was pretty late in the game. Of course, he scored it with ease and Juve ended winning that game 2-1. However, that very moment is when I became a Juve fan.

For the record, I’ve always admired Del Piero as a kid, even before I became a Juve fan. He’s my favourite football player of all-time. But, for some reason that one moment of his is when I became a Juve fan. Ever since then, I’ve become a huge bianconero. However, there is one thing I’d like to see Juve do one day and that’s winning the Champions League. As much as I’ve witnessed some incredible moments as a Juve fan, that would be beyond incredible. I hope it happens in the near future.

Previewing AC Milan VS. Fiorentina

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                      Image Credit: transfermarkt.com

Sunday’s match between AC Milan will be interesting, as both of them desperately need a result to boost the morale of not only their players, but also their respective clubs. So, here’s my preview of this match for both clubs.

    AC MILAN 

                         Image result for ac milan piatek 2019-2020

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     For the AC Milan players and their upper-management, the  previous two  results should be a huge wake up call. Not only did they lose to Inter in the Milan Derby last week, but they also lost 2-1 to Torino. Against Inter, they played a decent first half. Then, in the second half, they got dominated badly by the nerazzuri leading to a 2-0 loss. However, against Torino, AC Milan were getting their chances, but not converting on them. Their defense though, has been terrible these last couple of games. It could be because their midfield is weak as well, so that causes Milan’s backline to possess more pressure from opposing clubs. I don’t know how or when, but from a tactical perspective, that midfield will need to improve. It’ll especially have to move forward for this match against Fiorentina, as la viola is a very attack-minded squad and if AC Milan’s midfield is setup the way it has been so far this season, then it will get exposed terribly by  their dynamic offense.

FIORENTINA 

     

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    When Fiorentina began the season, they knew it was going to be a very tough set of matches early on, as they had to face Napoli, Juventus, Genoa, Sampdoria, and Atalanta. They were able to manage two draws and a win in their first five games. However, one thing that’ll still need to be improved on immensely is their backline. In their first 5 matches, they’ve conceded a total of 9 goals. That’s nuts! But, their offense seems perfectly fine. In their first five matches of the season, they’ve scored 8 goals. If Fiorentina wants to win this match and many other important ones, they’ll need to somehow find a way in which to concede a significantly lower amount of goals. The great thing about this Fiorentina side coming into this match is that with the ball they’re a fast moving and fluid offense. As a result, they can definitely exploit AC Milan’s vulnerable defense and below average midfield. It’ll be a tall order to get a result at the San Siro. But, it’s very possible.

I hope this fixture will be a fun one to watch. Also, I hope that both of these clubs will put on a showsand give Serie A fans a night to remember. The match will start at 2:45 pm Eastern Time, for those who want to watch.

 

The Top 5 Managers Heading Into the 2019-2020 Serie A Season

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If there’s anything that’ll improve in this upcoming Serie A campaign, it will be the quality of the managers. This season will see the likes of Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte , and many others battle it out for the coveted Serie A trophy. I can’t wait for it! So, here is what I believe are the top 5 Serie A managers heading into this upcoming season.

5. Maurizio Sarri

Many Juve fans will probably not agree with this. However, us bianconeri fans need to be realistic. Sarri does bring an exciting brand of football to Juventus, as it’s very focused on attacking and pressing the opposition’s defence. However, as a manager he does not beat these other men. He only has won one trophy as a manager and that was last season with Chelsea. He doesn’t seem as though he is good at changing or adjusting his tactics against other clubs. This is why he’s at the bottom of this list.

4. Eusebio Di Francesco

If you told me coming into this off-season that Eusebio Di Francesco would be managing Sampdoria, I would’ve thought you were nuts. With all due respect, he should be managing a club with a better squad. Di Francesco not only shocked the football world and led Roma to a Champions League semifinal, but he also led Sassuolo from Serie B to the Europa League within a couple seasons. He is truly a manager that can get the best out of a group of players. Under him, watch out for Sampdoria, as they could shock many Serie A fans.

3. Paulo Fonseca

Paulo Fonseca is a manager that has not been talked about too much coming into this upcoming season. He has won silverware in both Portugal and Ukraine as a manager. Also, when he was the manager of Shakhtar Donetsk, he led them into being a formidable force in the Champions League. They became difficult to beat for heavyweights in the competition. His counter-attacking style is also very lethal towards opposing players. Paulo Fonseca is one manager to watch for Roma heading into this season.

2. Antonio Conte

Some would argue that Antonio Conte should at the very top of this list. However, either way he is a top manager. He is infamous for being animated on the touchline during matches. But, that must work because he has won three Serie A titles with Juve as well as a league title with Chelsea. He definitely possesses the merit to manage a club such as Inter. Inter may not win the Serie A next season, but Conte will definitely make other clubs work to their fullest extent to beat them. Conte is able to get every ounce out of a club’s squad and I won’t expect any different from him at the helm of Inter.

1. Carlo Ancelotti

The top manager in this list has definitely won his fair share of silverware around Europe. He has been doing it for many years, as well. Carlo Ancelotti has won multiple Champions League trophies as well as having won league titles in 4 different countries. Many managers have a specific style of play they tend to implement. However, Ancelotti is unique because his style of play is based on whichever one suits the squad of players at his disposal. He is able to be successful by implementing various styles, which makes him the top Serie A manager heading into this season. As for Napoli, I’d say they could win the Serie A title, as they recently bought Kostas Manolas and are in the hunt to either buy James Rodriguez or Mauro Icardi. So, I’d say to Juventus to get ready for a tight title race against Ancelotti’s Napoli.

Thank you for reading this blog post! If you have any inquiries, my email is calciofanblogs@gmail.com. Be sure to follow my website as well! Also, follow me on Instagram @calciofanblogs, on Twitter @calciofanblogs1, and on my Facebook Page, Calcio Fan Blogs.

Italy’s Performance Under Mancini So Far

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    As the Italian National Squad ends their  matches for 2018, it is worth analyzing how far they’ve come and what they still need to improve on. 

                          Positives 

                          Their Style of Play 

          For many years, the Italian style of play has been the Catenaccio system of play, which until recently, has worked for them. Legendary defenders and attackers have assisted them in playing this style over the years. However, under Mancini that has changed. The Italian National Squad plays a more attacking style of play under Mancini because he has realized that Italy is not good enough to sit on 1-0 leads anymore. The more offensive style of play also allows midfielders such as Verratti or Jorginho to play to their strengths, as opposed to being forced to drop back and defend for long periods of time. Which, is not their nest attributes on the field. 

       Italy’s Midfield is Flourishing Again 

        It has been a few years, six years to be exact. But, Italy’s midfield looks like they’ve found their creativity again. The midfield trio that Mancini has set up, has looked awe inspiring. Of course, when your midfield possesses the likes of Jorginho and Verratti, it’ll look sensational. However, under Mancini, Italy’s midfield has been on another level. A big part of that is the fact that Mancini is allowing the central midfielders to be more free and creative. That’s attributed to Italy’s new style of play. Of course, midfielders will always have to be good at running back and helping to defend, but under Mancini these magicians are also able to show their true strengths, which has benefited them greatly. 

        Negative 

                    Italy’s Lack of Goal Scoring 

      Italy has improved immensely under Mancini so far. However, one area that is still haunting Italy is the lack of goals. Mancini has tried many different players at the striker position. However, there is still no winning formula to solve Italy’s goal scoring woes. However, what I would suggest is that Mancini should continue to test out different players at that position. Even, try putting Insigne as Italy’s number 9. It has been working at Napoli this season. Insigne is naturally more of play-maker, but based on the amount of goals he has scored for Napoli this season at that position, why not try it? However, Italy seems to be improving under Mancini, let’s hope it continues.