What is the point of pre-season?

Pre-season, huh, what is it good for? Well not preparation judging by the opening two rounds of Premier League football from 2016/17. All those tours, all those ‘tournaments’, the transfers and money spent and yet, the teams that have a settled starting line up at this point of the season are few and far between.

 

This had led to an underwhelming start, with competitors lumbering, slowly emerging from the cocoon of July, rather than exploding into life. Yes, there have been exciting new signings scoring (Zlatan!), new managers emoting (Conte) we’ve had villains (Costa) and late winners (Costa again), so why the sense that something is missing? Continue reading “What is the point of pre-season?”

Advertisements

London’s Premier League Contenders

The season is almost upon us. With the Euro’s still feeling tiringly close, it’s time to strap up the boots, take a deep breath and get ready for our bread and butter. The Premier League is back and with more stars than an American flag, it has all the hallmarks of being one of the most unpredictable seasons perhaps we’ve seen in Europe’s top 5 leagues…

Continue reading “London’s Premier League Contenders”

JG’s Transfer Update Pt. 1

Now that the European Championships are over and we are still weeks away from the Premier League starting, the only exciting football news right now is the transfer window.

 

It is the time for promoted clubs to sign some players to help them stay up and challenge, time for mid table clubs to add some depth to their squad and time for top clubs to trim the fat and add some extra quality as they battle amongst one another for top spot.

 

We are still six weeks away from deadline day, so there will be no rushed last minute deals done just yet, but let’s take a look at what deals have already been done and what clubs should be looking for.

 

Note – these are not extensive transfers, just what I deem significant with regards to the club and their league and cup campaign this season. A comprehensive list can be found on – http://www.skysports.com/football/transfer-deals. All information is correct as of 14th July 2016.

Continue reading “JG’s Transfer Update Pt. 1”

6 Abiding Memories from Euro 2016

Payet sets trend for fashionable late drama – France 2 – 1 Romania, 10th June 2016

 

 Remember the start of the tournament? Remember when we were full of hope that goals would rain like… like well, rain in an English summer? The opening game had been intriguing if not explosive and in this sense, was an omen of what was to follow for much of the next four weeks. After gaining a lead and then throwing it quickly away, hosts France were in danger of an underwhelming opening result in what still looked like a forgiving group A. Continue reading “6 Abiding Memories from Euro 2016”

Bordeaux, Toulouse and Les Bleus

Here is the second part of my ‘I am in France and going to places where they show football travel extravaganza’ and in this edition it’s all about Bordeaux and Toulouse. Expect facial hair, Simone Zaza looking like a tit and the reaction of the locals as France keep on rolling on to the Semi-Finals… Continue reading “Bordeaux, Toulouse and Les Bleus”

Can Conte master another miracle in Bordeaux?

Game of the Day: Germany vs. Italy, Bordeaux, 20:00

The glamour tie of the quarter-finals. More fitting of a final than a game to reach the last four but this Euro draw has been kind to us this season and now we get to see Antonio Conte once more try to prove that tactics can overcome any player for player advantage.

I’ve written before, and I will say it once more, this is hardly an Italian Vintage that Conte has rocked up to France with this summer. With Andrea Pirlo’s omission from the squad, it is Conte’s trusted old Juventus generals in defence who embody the tactical foundation that has proved so successful at this year’s European Championships.  Continue reading “Can Conte master another miracle in Bordeaux?”

Italy vs. Spain – When Powerhouse’s Collide 

Game of the Day: Italy vs. Spain, Paris, 18:00

No one saw this coming. Spain coming second in their group.

After losing their first game in the European Championships since 2004 to Croatia, Spain now found themselves on the sticky side of the draw, and a game against an Italian side that at first impressed but now come into this game with questions against their name.

After a tentative start against the Czech Republic, Spain waltzed past Turkey with more flair than a 70s disco in the second game of the group. Spain appeared to have mojo back. Then came Ivan Perisic and Croatia. Continue reading “Italy vs. Spain – When Powerhouse’s Collide “

Group E Final Round Preview

Games of the Day
Italy vs. Republic of Ireland, Lille, 20:00
Sweden vs. Belgium, Nice 20:00

Standings
Italy – 6pts
Belgium – 3pts
Sweden – 1pt
Republic of Ireland – 1pt

As the Italians stride through into the next round, Belgium finally turned up to the party after a 3-0 defeat of the Republic of Ireland.

Both games would appear to be something of a dead rubber in Group E, with Italy and Belgium both favourites to pick up a further 3pts come this evening and whilst Italy potentially have the harder task against Martin O’Neil and Roy Keane’s Republic of Ireland side, it’s hard to imagine much change in the standings.

It seems very strange to say that Italy are a surprise package but given that this current Italian squad was widely regarded as the worse this century, their performance against Belgium was so well thought out and executed it seemed that the Italians could waltz their way to the pointy end of a major tournament once more. Fast forward 4 days and such claims seemed premature as Conte’s side laboured to a 1-0 victory against a massively under-whelming Swedish side. Continue reading “Group E Final Round Preview”

Conte vs. Wilmots – The Battle to Top Group E

Game of the Day: Italy vs. Belgium, Lyon, 20:00

The team that always turns up at a tournament. Italy. Regardless of how poor a squad or form may have been over the course of 6 months or since their previous finals campaign, Italian coaches always seem to be able to cobble a squad of 23 together that delivers.

What makes Antonio Conte’s 23 man squad so interesting is firstly the fact that it really isn’t that great. And secondly, he is coming to Chelsea and for a group that has little to no bearing on England’s tournaments, many a people will be intrigued to see what this Conte fellow is all about. Continue reading “Conte vs. Wilmots – The Battle to Top Group E”