Tag Archives: football

Conte’s Chelsea in Driving Seat for Premier League Title Triumph

Simply put, Chelsea have been outstanding so far this season. Antonio Conte’s Italian revolution is well and truly underway at Stamford Bridge and the Blues are reaping rewards from his varied and extensive skillset in the dugout.

Since taking over at the helm, Conte has taken this Chelsea side from the brink of disaster to eleven consecutive Premier League wins. The Blues are now eyeing up Arsenal’s all-time top-flight record of successive victories and a fifth Premier League title could follow.

It is easy to forget that this is Conte’s first season in charge of a major club side outside of his native Italy – and that is testament to his ability to adapt and tweak his system and style to suit the English game.

Ultimately, Conte has managed to maintain his Italian principles of solid, consistent defending but has incorporated Premier League traditions of playing attacking, free-flowing football. This unique blend has confused their rivals and the Blues, who have now 11 on the spin, are looking unbeatable.

Chelsea’s recent run has been sensational to say the least but it is the manner of these wins that make them all the more impressive. Conte’s men have scored 25 goals during this spell whilst conceding just two – keeping nine clean sheets in the process.

If the former Italy boss can keep his players focused on the task at hand, the title race could be all but over by mid-April. The Blues have already built a six-point lead over nearest rivals Liverpool and both Manchester City and Arsenal are already feeling the heat.

As of December 22nd, Conte’s men are priced at 10/11 to win the title with Betway and plenty of neutrals will be backing Chelsea after their solid start to the campaign. The Blues have lost just once so far this season and that 3-0 defeat to Arsenal was the catalyst for Conte’s revolution to begin.

Prior to that defeat, the Italian was following English football’s tradition of playing four at the back but Chelsea have now reverted to a brand new 3-4-3 system and the rest of the Premier League just cannot figure out how to play against it.

via GIPHY

Eventually, teams will grow accustomed to Chelsea’s system but the Blues have enough quality in their ranks to adapt if needs be. Conte has managed to take Victor Moses, a player who made just one solitary performance for the club last season, and transform him into a reliable wing-back in the space of just three months.

By the same token, former Bolton Wanderers star Marcos Alonso is holding his own on a weekly basis. While he was touted as a superb prospect for the future, nobody expected Conte to get this much out of the Spaniard in his first season at Stamford Bridge.

But without beating about the bush, it would be fair to state that the biggest difference-maker has been Diego Costa. The Spain star has always played with vigour and determination and his new manager has channelled that aggression into goals – and Chelsea fans are now back on the Costa wagon after a hit-and-miss 2015/16 campaign.

Costa has already notched 13 league goals this season; more than anybody else in the top flight. The Golden Boot is well within his sights but a Premier League triumph is the main objective; Conte has got him playing for the shirt rather than for his own glory…

Chelsea still have plenty of work to do in the second half of the season but Conte will be ready for the title push. He has been there and done it all during his stints with Juventus and Italy but a Premier League crown in his first year in England would certainly send out a statement of intent. At 47 years old, Conte is here for the long run and an early title triumph could signal the start of an era of Blues dominance.

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Italy can progress in Euro 2016 despite a tough path

The Italian national team has awoken a sense of hope in the country that has been a surprise and certainly was not expected. The nation as a rule, grows slowly into a tournament just like its team and in some sort of bizarre unity, they historically culminate in the knock out rounds as a force on both parts. Now after a smash and grab group stage, where the Italians unusually topped their group after two games, they ironically face champions Spain in the round of 16.  Despite a defeat in their final game to the Republic of Ireland, there is reason to be positive before this titanic clash.

Written off

‘The worst Italian squad in 50 years’ this was the yoke that the Italian national team had around their neck as they travelled to France. The lack of quality in the forward area was obvious and the nation’s media and fans questioned whether GrazianoPelle, Eder and Ciro Immobile could produce the magic that their predecessors had. After all a country that had given birth to Giuseppe Meazza, Paolo Rossi, Christian Vieri and ‘Pippo’ Inzaghi could perhaps feel as though they had been put on a crash diet when it came to forward quality. Italy’s midfield to had been decimated, as injuries to Claudio Marchisio and Marco Verratti had meant that the team was now reliant on its three man Juventus defence backed up by the ever young ‘Gigi’ Buffon.

Belgium, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland stood in their way and as the Azzurri went into their opening game against the Red Devils ‘Golden generation’ there was not much hope given. Despite the prediction that Antonio Conte would play a very defensive game that operated solely on counter attacks, the team instead started with pace and a direct style that shocked their opponents. Despite commentators talking about Italy being a defensive unit they were ambitious and got their rewards for this.

Pressing

The way that Conte had his team drilled was impressive and his team transformed from a 3-5-2 to a 3-3-4 when in attack and then a 5-3-2 when defending. Buffon was the antithesis of this as he played almost as a sweeper when the team was attacking, similar to Manuel Neuer. When the team defended as a five the veteran goalkeeper did not move out of his six-yard box but the understanding of when he would come for the ball was understood well by his Juventus team mates.

This was also evident against Sweden but despite Eder’s killer goal the team still do look a little bit lightweight up front. The rest of the team however, operate as a cohesive unit that arguably is the most fluid yet structured in the competition. Conte looks to operate with a ‘freedom within structure’ mentality and it has proved effective. He knows he hasn’t got the best tool in his tool box but he knows what kit he needs to do the job well.

It was the realisation of this that enthused the Italian public and media and even saw the GazzettaDello Sport say that ‘We want our Italy back’ after they lost their final group game to the Republic of Ireland. Conte made eight changes in this game and two if those were enforced as Buffon had the flu and Antonio Candreva had pulled his hamstring against Sweden. The rest simply were experimental and whilst the team came in for criticism, it did allow the coach to see what options he could call upon. Lorenzo Insigne was one of these players who, whilst given only a few minutes, showed that he could replicate his club form for Napoli on the national stage.

Italy have to face Spain and then if they progress they will face Germany but they should not be worried. The team has already impressed her apathetic fans and there is little expectation but yet there is room for optimism. Defensively the team are arguably the best in the tournament and if Lorenzo Insigne is given licence to roam then the Azzurri may be the may turn heads even if for cohesion rather than style.

 

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Matic rejoins Chelsea

The Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic rejoined Chelsea and signed a five-and-a-half year contract.
Chelsea have confirmed they have re-signed Matic from Benfica but didn’t reveal  the transfer fee. The British media reports suggest that Chelsea have paid around £21 million to bring Matic back to Stanford Bridge.

The 25 years old midfielder declared that he is very happy to be back to the club where he spent three seasons.
In the previous spell  he was too young to impose into the first team but now he is confident that he can be an important player.

Jose Mourinho believes the same thing and he declared that his quality could prove to be decisive for Chelsea’s progress this season.
Nemanja Matic has started his football career at Red Star Belgrade youth  team and then he moved to Partizan. His senior debut was at Jedinstvo Ub in 2005 and two years later he signed for Kosice.

On 18 August 2009 Matic was transferred to Chelsea where he made just three substitute appearances. At the end of January 2011 Matic signed for Benfica as part of David Luiz deal. Matic has made 9 appearances for the Serbian national team.

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JUVENTUS 1-1 GENOA

Juventus remains the leader in ‘Series A’ with 7 points ahead of Napoli, but with a game more played.

In stage with the number 22 Juventus make a draw with Genoa, Genoa who try not to relegated.

Juventus opens first the score with F. Quagliarella’s success in the 54th minute assisted by S. Lichtsteiner. In minute 68, M. Borriello from Genoa assisted by J. Kucka equals.

Genoa remain bottom of the table with just 18 points, two points away from 17th place, a place that is saved from relegation.

Juventus: Buffon G., A. BARZAGLI, S. Lichtsteiner, L. Bonucci, P. De Ceglie, M. Cáceres, A. Vidal, C. Marchisio, P. Pogba, M. Vučinić, F. Quagliarella.
Substitutions: S. Giovinco for F. Quagliarella 69 ‘, E. Giaccherini for P. De Ceglie 73’, S. Beltrame for C. Marchisio 83 ‘.

Genoa: S. Frey, E. Moretti, T. Manfredini, A. Granqvist, L. Antonelli, E. Pisano, R. Olivera, Matuzalém, J. Kucka, A. Floro Flores, C. Immobile.
Substitutions: M. Borriello for C. Immobile 59 ‘, A. Bertolacci for R. Olivera 59’, M. Rossi for T. Manfredini 66 ‘.

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Qualifiers World Cup 2014 in Brazil

Following the 2014 World Cup will be played in Brazil. Matches in Europe have already begun and the battle is fierce. Seats are limited and teams are fighting for the privilege of representing the country in the biggest football competition in the world.

After most teams have already played two matches already appearing in the charts group surprises. If Germany, Italy, Serbia, or even France, were not a surprise, Romania, Switzerland, Russia, Montenegro is a surprise being on first place, beating teams like Netherlands, Spain, England and Portugal.

It remains now to see which of these teams will compete in World Cup 2014 and who stay at home, one thing is sure, we are going to have part of a qualification highly disputed and a great show.

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