Viola: ‘Construction starts in short time’ | Football Italia

  Mayor of Bagno a Ripoli Francesco Casini has claimed ‘the Florentines understood the importance’ of Fiorentina’s and patron Rocco Commisso’s plans and will start building the new sports centre ‘in short time’.

  Fiorentina and the superintendence met to discuss the club’s plans for a new sports centre in Bagno a Ripoli and the mayor confirmed that the building will commence to help the club take a ‘qualitative leap’.

  “The Florentines understood the importance of Fiorentina’s and Commisso’s plans,” he told Radio Bruno. “The President is an ambitious person with clear ideas.

  “The Sports Centre and the new headquarters of the club will be built in Bagno a Ripoli in short time.

  “I believe that there will arrive great surprises in the market and sporting level, which is what we are most interested in.

  “We must not forget that the theme of infrastructure is the point of a team’s qualitative leap forward.”

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Pioli praises Ibra and Kjaer | Football Italia

  Milan coach Stefano Pioli has praised January signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Simon Kjaer ahead of the match against Sampdoria tomorrow.

  The Rossoneri have climbed to sixth in Serie A, four points behind Roma at fifth, much thanks to the additions made in January.

  Pioli underlined how important Ibrahimovic has been in recent months, both on and off the pitch.

  “Ibra improved us in many ways on the pitch, he gave us solutions we didn’t have,” Pioli said at a press conference. “Ibra has an important presence both physically and technically.

  “He creates a lot of space for his teammates. Regarding his personality and character, he was definitely decisive.”

  Together with Ibrahimovic’s move from LA Galaxy, the Denmark international Kjaer came to Milan from Sevilla the same month.

  The 31-year-old has played 13 Serie A games since and has formed a great partnership with captain Alessio Romagnoli since he replaced Mateo Musacchio in the side.

  “Kjaer is doing well, he was another January signing that contributed in an important way.”

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Not much Sarri in this Juventus | Football Italia_3

  When Maurizio Sarri arrived at Juventus last summer, it marked the end of an unconventional climb to the top of the coaching pyramid. By hiring the former banker, Italy’s most powerful club hoped that they could finally reach the summit of the Champions League, a tournament that had tormented them for decades. When the Champions League resumes in August, Sarri will have the chance to lead The Old Lady to an elusive third title. However, Juve’s recent performances suggest that the vision of Giorgio Chiellini lifting Ol’ Big Ears at Lisbon’s Estádio da Luz later this summer is little more than a pipe dream.

  In the last few weeks, Juventus have looked a shell of the self-assured side that has dominated the domestic scene for nearly a decade. They needed two penalties against Atalanta, the second of which was a na?ve handball by forward Luis Muriel, to scrape a draw at home. Even two-goal leads, usually a guarantee of three points for a side of Juve’s pedigree, were surrendered against Milan and Sassuolo.

  The defensive fragility will be a major worry for Sarri as he prepares for the decisive second leg against Lyon. However, he should be more concerned by the state of Juve’s attack. With most of the season gone, ‘Sarriball’ has only made fleeting appearances. Atalanta and Sassuolo controlled possession and territory against their more illustrious opponent, stringing together dizzying short-passing interchanges that were supposed to be the hallmark of Sarri’s Juventus. Meanwhile, set pieces or long balls towards Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala were The Old Lady’s most promising attacking outlets in both matches.

  On paper, Sarri seemed an odd choice to bring The Old Lady long-awaited European glory. Last season’s Europa League triumph with Chelsea was the only major title on his CV. Nevertheless, the enthralling football that he engineered at Empoli and Napoli was a clear departure from the more pragmatic style favoured by previous incumbent Massimiliano Allegri. As a result, it was possible that Sarri’s Juventus would concede more often than Allegri’s version. Yet, more progress on the implementation of a fluid, exciting attacking strategy would have surely been expected by this point.

  Fortunately for Sarri and Juventus, the margins in this season’s Champions League knockout stages are much finer than in other years. A single-match elimination format means that only four games separate The Old Lady from long-awaited European glory. With Ronaldo and Dybala in the team, Juventus can play poorly and still defeat any opponent on the continent. However, Sarri has failed to make Juve more than the sum of their parts.

  The Old Lady’s superior individual quality is enough to perpetuate their domestic hegemony. Even after taking only two points from their last three league matches, a ninth consecutive Scudetto is nearly assured thanks to the inconsistent form of main chasers Inter and Lazio. Yet, talent alone does not guarantee European success. If Sarri cannot find the right formula come August, his reign at Juventus is likely to end after just one season.

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Milan regretting Gattuso mistake | Football Italia

  On Sunday evening, Gennaro Gattuso will face Milan as an opponent for the first time in his coaching career. It’s not just any game, as his Napoli are direct competitors for fifth place and a reminder of how little his old club has genuinely progressed since he left.

  Going into the final game of last season, Milan stood their best chance of the qualifying for the Champions League since the Max Allegri era ended four-and-half-years earlier. All they needed was to beat SPAL and hope that one of Inter or Atalanta dropped points.

  It wasn’t to be. In spite of securing that victory over SPAL, Inter and Atalanta won both of their games, meaning I Rossoneri missed out on a top-four finish by a mere point. Nevertheless, Milan had achieved their best league finish since 2013.

  It was a testament to the progress this team had made under Gennaro Gattuso. He initially endured a difficult start after succeeding Vincenzo Montella in November 2017, with just one victory in his five opening games, but improved with time, winning 11 out of his 19 remaining fixtures to secure a sixth-place finish in his debut season.

  For his efforts, he was rewarded with a contract extension to 2021 – a clear sign that the Milan hierarchy had faith in his abilities. With a sense of stability and signs of progress on the pitch, I Rossoneri would further improve in Gattuso’s first full season in charge, competing for a Champions League spot for most of the campaign. They would eventually miss out on it, of course, but his Milan side were – at that point – performing better than the one he had when he first arrived.

  Despite this, Gattuso left the club by mutual consent just two days after the SPAL victory. He stated that it was a “difficult, but thoughtful” decision and waived compensation for the final two years of his contract – a symbol of his love for the club and his humble nature.

  Milan replaced Gattuso with a more reserved figure in the form of Marco Giampaolo. Even at the time, they seemed like an odd match. Giampaolo was a journeyman Serie A manager and his previous job – managing Sampdoria for three seasons – was by far his biggest. His Blucerchiati side were performing well and did employ an exciting brand of football. However, his overall managerial record perhaps indicated that he wouldn’t be suited to managing an elite club such as Milan.

  This quickly became evident. Giampaolo’s Milan were lifeless and bereft of ideas, losing four of his seven games in charge. The Rossoneri hierarchy were quick to realise their mistake and dismissed Giampaolo after just five months. He left them in 13th place, already four points away from the Champions League places.

  In the space of just seven games, Milan’s progress under Gattuso was undone. The 18 months of hard work and gradual improvement, all for nothing. They replaced Giampaolo with Stefano Pioli, who was more experienced in managing elite clubs than his predecessor. He was initially unpopular with the supporters, but has whipped Milan back into shape, with the club now likely to achieve Europa League qualification.

  Pioli was never going to be a long-term option for Milan, however. He has done the job with dignity, laying solid foundations for the man who will probably succeed him – Ralf Rangnick. The Rossoneri’s pursuit of the German tactician is an indication that the club – at least on a boardroom level – is now thinking strategically. One can’t help but wonder what Gattuso could’ve achieved if he was afforded the same opportunity, however.

  Gattuso’s achievements at Napoli – completely reversing the fortunes of a crisis-stricken club – is clear evidence of his managerial abilities. It proves that Milan didn’t have to go back to square one with Giampaolo and Rangnick – they could’ve built on the progress Gattuso had made.

  It’s an easy thing to say in hindsight, but Milan should’ve fought tooth and nail to keep Gattuso. Adored by the supporters and evidently a highly-talented, hungry, young manager, he could’ve been the perfect coach to restore Milan to their former glories. His immediate future seems to be with Napoli, however, and Rossoneri fans can now only wonder what might’ve been.

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Does Phil Foden have a future at Manchester City?

Pep Guardiola once stated Phil Foden is the most talented player that he has ever seen. Actually, Guardiola’s quote was something more like Foden is the “most, most, most talented player” he has seen.

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So, with Foden given such high praise from the man that masterminded Barcelona’s success in the late noughties and helped Lionel Messi become a star, why isn’t the Manchester City youngster playing more minutes in the Premier League?

Perhaps the answer can be found in Foden’s age. At just 19-years old, Guardiola is likely to be worried that the midfielder will struggle in high-pressure Premier League games. That does seem a bit strange considering Manchester City folded under pressure against Liverpool at Anfield regardless of what your thoughts are about the handball that wasn’t given early in the match.

Foden has appeared in his four league matches for the Cityzens. It isn’t a bad figure until you delve deeper and realise he has played just 30 total Premier League minutes. That is an average of 7.5 minutes per game.

For a player that is the most talented Guardiola has seen, then why isn’t he getting more game time?

Foden has been on the Manchester City bench in seven of the other eight league matches. He has appeared in two Champions League matches and two Carabao Cup games.

The midfielder scored a goal and tallied an assist in the Champions League in games against Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta. But twice he has been left out of the European squad and a mere 83 minutes have been tallied across the two matches Foden has appeared in.

At least Foden has played a full 90 minutes in Manchester City’s two Carabao Cup matches and he will be assured of playing in the team’s next fixture in the tournament. At least we assume.

Foden has no doubt got the ability to play at a high level, yet he isn’t getting match time to develop. Former Manchester City youth team player Jadon Sancho is the same age as Foden. He has seen his career take off since leaving for Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

Sancho’s stock is so high right now that both Liverpool and Manchester United are linked to transfers for him in excess of £100 million. The creative winger has three goals and six assists in nine Bundesliga games for Borussia Dortmund and is a full-fledged England international.

Even with Manchester City’s midfield of David Silva, Rodri, and Ilkay Gundogan not looking especially impressive against Liverpool — Silva is ageing and Gundogan flatters to deceive — Foden is not getting minutes.

Transfermarkt values Foden at £27m currently. A January move away from the Etihad Stadium may be just what the midfielder needs to get his career on track. The Cityzens could teste the transfer market waters in January and purchase a top midfielder to help reel in Liverpool or win the Champions League. If they do, Foden shouldn’t hesitate to leave the club either temporarily or permanently. Even then, he shouldn’t wait to leave.

Despite being the best talent Guardiol has seen, it is hard for the rest of us to truly see it if he doesn’t get to play.

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