The Pogba sale and what it means for Serie A

In the world of crazy transfer fees and inflated values due to everyone’s seemingly bizarre obsession with all things Premier League, there lies one sleeping giant of European football that once housed Europe’s greatest. It’s Serie A.
In the 80’s it housed the likes Michel Platini, Frank Rijkaard and Marco Van Basten. Go back to the early Noughties and you had an AC Milan side that had such imperious names as Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta, Cafu, Clarence Seedorf, Manuel Rui Costa, Pippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko. Juventus had Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet, Mauro Camoranesi, Pavel Nedved, and Lillian Thuram amongst others. It was a who’s who of football brilliance.
Yet in recent years, perhaps rocked by the calciopoli scandal of 2006, which saw Juventus, relegated to Serie B and the the title going un-claimed. As well as the likes of AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio all being banned from the following season’s Champions League and UEFA Cup as well as various stadium bans and point deductions, Italian football has fallen firmly behind the likes of the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga. Yet could this transfer window see a change in fortunes on Europe’s leg shaped peninsula?

Continue reading “The Pogba sale and what it means for Serie A”

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The End of the Road for France and Euro 2016

It’s the day after the final. Euro 2016 has drawn to a close and the French fairytale lays in ruins at the feet of one man. Eder. The most unlikely hero from the most unfancied result, it’s as if Chico actually did win X-factor.

 

As has been the case for most of the last fortnight, I was there, in a fan park wanting France to fulfil a journey that seemed more than a quest for footballing victory, it had become a unifying act for a country that has had more than its fair share of woes in the last year.  Continue reading “The End of the Road for France and Euro 2016”

‘The best footballing experience I have ever had’ – France vs Germany in the Velodrome

What a game. What a fantastic and unreal game.

 

The live experience of football is a very different animal to watching it on the TV. I was in Nice for England/Iceland and it was absolutely clear that England were dreadful but it was only after reading and listening to the various recriminations that it was clear just how much of a steaming pile of faeces England actually were.

 

There can be absolutely no denying in how great a game France vs Germany was. In the Stade Vélodrom it felt like you were watching a spectacle, something more than a semi-final as the stature of both teams resonated with their respective fans. This was their final.  Continue reading “‘The best footballing experience I have ever had’ – France vs Germany in the Velodrome”

Portugal awaits the winner from Marseille

Game of the Day: France vs. Germany, Marseille, 20.00

After a tournament scattered with surprises, Thursday night sees what will be a widely predicted line up for the semi-final in the bottom half of the draw; hosts and favourites France against World Champions Germany. Continue reading “Portugal awaits the winner from Marseille”

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 Iceland sink French hopes?

We’ve had one bore draw, a great team performance, a clash of European footballing giants and now this. If you thought England had to deal with pressure then think again.

Progress has been less than serene for Les Bleus’. They have been expected to win each and every game since the opening fixture comfortably and with stereotypically French levels of panache. Rather than respected foes, the hosts have been portrayed as navigating a slippery river crossing, knowing that one false step will result in total humiliation. Continue reading “Can Iceland sink French hopes?”

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?”

Nice – A View from a Fan Park

Yes this is a little late, but with a lot of kilometres under the old belt going from Nice to Bordeaux, a moment has arrived to finish this off – so here it is, ‘The Sweeper Blog’s France vs Republic of Ireland Fan Park Experience Review’. And just as aside, the tan lines are still there and the after sun has been vaguely OK. I know, when you read, that is the thing you were all going to be most worried about that….

Nice Fan Park and Watching France vs. Republic of Ireland

In short, it was fantastic.

I’ve always wanted France to go far in this tournament, knowing that once the hosts go, the tournament loses a little of its va-va-voom and has crowds gathered in the mid-afternoon sun, anticipation and expectation grew also. Now that I am over on le continent, it is clear that this country expects something from Deschamps and his Euro squad and that perhaps French performances to date haven’t quite met such expectations.  Continue reading “Nice – A View from a Fan Park”

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 D Final Round Preview

Games of the Day
Croatia vs. Spain, Bordeaux, 20:00
Czech Republic vs. Turkey, Lens, 20:00

Standings
Spain – 6pts
Croatia – 4pts
Czech Republic – 1pt
Turkey – 0pts

Spain have seemingly managed to make light work of arguably the hardest group of these Championships. After securing qualification with a 3-0 drumming of Turkey, Spain move on to facing a potential Luka Modric-less Croatia.

Against Turkey, something seemed to have finally clicked for the Spanish. The combination of Nolito and Alvaro Morata produced an incisiveness that seemed lacking against the Czech’s in the first game. The glancing header by the Juventus striker was a delicate effort that needed nothing more than guiding into the back of the net after a fantastic in-swinging ball delivered by Nolito.

Whilst the second goal may have came about from a defensive error, the third goal by Spain was a thing of beauty. A simple tap in finish for Morata after a 22 pass move, it was a goal that only the Spanish could have crafted. Out of all 22 passes, the one that shone was the pass from Andres Iniesta to Jordi Alba. It was just sublime. Continue reading “Group D Final Round Preview”