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?
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”
Game of the Day: France vs Portugal, Paris, 20:00
It’s finally here. After the magic in Marseille and the lethargy in Lyon, it’s final time for Euro 2016. After all the games, the goals, the misses and the surprises, it’s down to two. France vs Portugal in Paris playing out a final few expected a month ago. Continue reading “It’s Final Time for France and Portugal!”
Three nights in Lyon, one semi-final. It was supposed to be the fan park experience that trumped all others as the Welsh came to town to oversee one of the international underdog stories in recent times. However much like the game itself the atmosphere underwhelmed as Wales went out with a whimper rather than a roar.
Headlines will say that Cristiano Ronaldo stole the show as ‘CR7’ matched Michel Platini’s goal scoring record for European Championships but that is a headline born out of mediocrity. No stars were made in Lyon as Wales failed to perform half as well as they did against Belgium and Portugal continued on their anti-nice footballing mission of trying to win this summer’s showpiece by any means imaginable. Continue reading “Welsh Dragon runs out of puff in Lyon”
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”
Game of the Day: Portugal vs Wales, Lyon, 20:00
It’s one of the more unlikely semi-final couplings in recent times but it’s a game that has a narrative fitting for the big occasion. Gareth Bale’s Wales takes on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. The largest stars of Florentino Perez’s current crop of galatico’s, this is a game that has a domestic rivalry between team mates at its heart. Continue reading “Bale and Ronaldo face off in Lyon”
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?”
Game of the Day: Belgium vs. Wales, Lille, 20:00
Wales is proof that with a little bit of team spirit and one world class player that relative success is more than achievable in an international football tournament. And in Gareth Bale, Wales have a player that accepts the spotlight whilst not forgetting to mention the operators off stage.
Welsh performances, England game aside, have been impressive, with the 3-0 demolition of Russia by far the best for Chris Coleman. Whilst the first two games seemed dominated by Bale, against Russia, it was a game won by the squad as a whole as Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Joe Ledley dominated the midfield. Neil Taylor and Chris Gunter dominated the flanks, allowed by an Ashley Williams led defensive line unhampered by a simply awful Russian side. It was attacking, incisive football. Continue reading “Wales Seek To Dash Belgian Dreams”
Game of the Day: Poland vs. Portugal, Marseille, 20:00
All of a sudden, there is barely over 2 weeks left, just 7 games remaining (not counting third place play off), before the new larger-format Euros draw to a close. The quarter finals open with arguably the last two dark horses left in the competition, Poland and Portugal meeting in Marseille; (with everyone else classifiable as favourites or plucky outsiders). This may not be the most glamourous of the round, but could provide intrigue and quality between two evenly matched sides. Continue reading “Quarter Final time as Poland face Portugal”
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 “