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The decline of Serie A and the Juventus rejuvenation



Juventus didn’t do it. Not for the lack of trying mind, there spirited performance against a dominant Barcelona squad was worthy of a runners up medal, but us romantics of the game will be left with the Pirlo crying face for quite some time. Ironically the defeated face of Italian football has been in view for quite some time.

Massimiliano Allegri deserves praise for what he’s achieved this season, given that at the start he was an underwheming candidate perceived by the Vecchia Signora faithful. From Conte leaving on the first day of pre-season training, it left a void, especially as Juve were being beaten for the then-promising striker-cum-winger Juan Iturbe, the fans were dismayed at the appointment of a former rival manager in Allegri.

Constant excellent performances from a fluid and cohesive team had won over the fans pretty quickly with stand out performances from key players such as Pirlo and Tevez and decent introductions from Evra and Morata, got them giddy on what they could expect. Possibly a Serie A title and the fans would have been happy. Coppa Italia the fans less so, but combine the two and you have a double which the fans haven’t seen in 20 years. Triumphant wins against the likes of Real Madrid and Monaco and you have the firm and undivided attention of the Juventus Stadium.

The construction of the Juventus Stadium is one which has become pioneering move across Italian football and not a moment too soon. Given that majority of the stadia in the Serie A is either shared with another local side, such as Lazio/Roma, Milan/Inter (etc) and that majority of the stadiums are in a bad state given that most will have had the World Cup 90 treatment of getting ready for the big finals but since, teams have found it hard to place where whom is to pay.

Back in 1990 in preparation for the World Cup, the Italian Government spent roughly a €1 billion to build new stadiums and renovate old which have since been left in the hands of the local municipalities in which case own majority of the clubs grounds in Italy. Good news on that front is that there is 3/4 teams looking to branch out in the same way that Juventus did from Delli Alpi and more so, a move away from the local municipalities ownership.

Milan with, it seem future investment from the far east, look to move into the centre of Milan away from the age old San Siro. Roma look to be doing the same alongside Udinese with help from their financial backers. I find it mystifying that 30 years after Heysel, in which Juventus saw first hands on what an overlooked Stadium in terms of stature and safety, which only now are the clubs in Italy starting to take notice of something so important to fans and clubs in the modern game.

With the stadia crumbling for as long as the problems with racism and crowd trouble, in particular the Ultra’s, namely at Roma, Lazio and Napoli, still hold Italian football in a dark place. With crowds fluctuating and generally on the decrease due to an ever increasing TV presence in modern day football, alongside the issues raised above, has led to clubs with dwindling attendances with the fans choosing to stay indoors rather than go to a match.

With dwindling attendances you have less money, the less money you have the less creative talent you can bring through. Even if that talent is coming through with the likes of Verratti (Pescara), Berardi (Juventus) and Balde Diao at Lazio remain to convince and stay in the league. More so in the case of players at lesser squads like Torino and Pescara with Immobile and Veratti leaving for adventures abroad, there really needs to be a staying power in Serie A for it to compete with the big boys of Europe again.

On a positive note though, seedings for the European Cups may just change if Italy continue in the vain they have this year and with the teams in England falling out in rather spectacularly early fashion. Currently three teams go through to the Champions League, including the 3rd place playoff place, but given that English clubs seem to think the Europa League is either somewhere to blood youth players or to compete you may have to sacrifice a decent finish in the domestic league. Napoli and Fiorentina proved admirable in their pursuit of European fame this season which will help at the end of the day towards Italian coefficient rankings.

On a final note, Juventus have shown light and Agnelli has shown what it’s like for Italian clubs to treat the club as a business and not a decoration or something that sits in a portfolio. By taking note what has gone on at huge clubs such as Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Barcelona, Juventus have looked at themselves and decided that a corporate/business-like approach in regards to being self-sufficient with Marketing, facilities and hierarchy are possibly the best way out of this demise that Serie A currently finds itself in.

With other clubs such as Roma with American owners, Milan with soon-to-be new far eastern owners and Inter with wealthy Asian owners, you would hope that Juventus have shown this year that they with a bit of financial backing can get the Serie A back on track to becoming the Sunday lunchtime highlight they once were.


Football sadist by choice, only choosing to go to lower league matches when the weather is terrible.

Champions League

Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Juventus: Three talking points from Wembley

Tottenham bowed out of Europe against an experienced Juventus side.

Rob Meech



Photo: Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur crashed out of the Champions League after Juventus produced an inspired fightback to progress to the quarter-finals. The in-form Son Heung-min had put Spurs 3-2 ahead on aggregate shortly before the interval, but two goals in three second-half minutes changed the complexion of the tie.

First, Gonzalo Higuain stabbed home the equaliser before Paulo Dybala completed the comeback with a delicate finish. Harry Kane hit the post in the dying moments, but Spurs’ exit at the hands of last season’s runners-up was confirmed as they failed to score a second goal. Here are three talking points from Wembley Stadium..

Max Allegri outfoxes his Tottenham counterpart

So poor were Juventus in the first half that they were fortunate to be only one goal behind on the night and still in the tie. There was no indication of what was to come, as Max Allegri’s side transformed the match in the second period. At the final whistle, the Juve boss headed straight down the tunnel instead of venturing on to the pitch to celebrate with his players. But it was his tactical switch that paved the way for their victory.

With an hour on the clock, on came Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner, who injected much-needed pace and guile. The visitors changed formation and suddenly they were getting in between the lines, with Dybala becoming much more effective. Within minutes, Juve were 2-1 ahead and in their element. Once in front, they managed the game brilliantly and didn’t look like conceding. Mauricio Pochettino, who could only stand and watch it all unfold, had been outwitted by the master.

Future looks bright despite heartbreaking exit

Disappointment may be the overriding emotion for all involved at Tottenham right now, but once the dust has settled they should look back at their Champions League adventure with pride. For this was the season they arrived as a major force on the European stage. Victories over Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in a group they topped were huge fillips and evidence of their continued progress under Pochettino.

Spurs were unlucky to be drawn against a club of Juventus’ pedigree in the last 16 and it was the Italians’ knowhow that paid dividends in the heat of the battle. The hosts looked a little naive, but the experience will benefit them in the future. Tottenham are odds-on to finish in the top four and thereby qualify for the Champions League again next season. Should Pochettino be given the funds to invest in his squad this summer, the club’s fans can look forward to more nights under the spotlight.

In-form Son strikes again for Spurs

The South Korean, who was given the nod ahead of Erik Lamela in the starting line-up, vindicated his selection with the opening goal at Wembley. Son had already gone close to breaking the deadlock and was causing Andrea Barzagli all sorts of problems with his marauding runs. There was more than a touch of fortune about the goal, which rebounded off his left leg and wrong-footed veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon, but it was no less than the Spurs forward deserved.

Son came close to levelling the tie in the latter stages but, ultimately, it was to be neither his nor Tottenham’s night. With 16 goals in all competitions this season, the 25-year-old is making a big impression. He was the home side’s most potent attacking force, upstaging both Kane and Dele Alli at Wembley. Son has finally established himself in the starting XI and Spurs fans will hope he can continue to ease the goalscoring burden on Kane.

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Juventus eye up Chelsea’s Gary Cahill as a replacement for Leonardo Bonucci – Should they let him go?




In a surprising news item, The Sun claim that Juventus could look to Chelsea to replace Leonardo Bonucci after the Italian’s move to AC Milan and may target Gary Cahill as a replacement.

The Chelsea captain is currently serving a three game suspension after his red card on the opening day, but the Italian club may be hoping that he has played his last game for the Blues. They are reportedly prepared to spend as much as £16.5 million to bring him to the Juventus Stadium.

That could be tempting for Chelsea given that Cahill is 31-years-old and undoubtedly past his best. With a number of young defenders coming through, including the likes of Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen, it could be tempting to cash in on Cahill and give more opportunities for them to develop.

His rash challenge against Burnley also left his team in the lurch and critics have claimed that it was symbolic of how out of depth the former Bolton man is as captain of the Premier League champions. With mounting pressure, he will need to be up to scratch when under scrutiny more than anyone.

However, Cahill was only recently appointed captain and it would send out entirely the wrong message if he was to be sold now. After a disastrous transfer window so far, it would not only be a psychological blow to lose the club captain, but would also leave Antonio Conte with less than a week to replace him.

His experience is also invaluable. Whilst the likes of Christensen may be knocking on the door of the starting line-up, he will need experienced heads like Cahill’s in and around him to help his development to reach his full potential as a Chelsea player in the years to come.

It could be tempting for Chelsea to allow Cahill to move on, and had this move have happened in June, it may well stand a chance of happening. Now with the season under way and only a matter of days away from the transfer window closing, it would be an incomprehensible decision if Chelsea do sell their captain.

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Claudio Marchisio linked to Chelsea – what would he bring?

Jake Jackman




Chelsea are likely to be active until the final days of the transfer window as they look to add quality and depth to their squad. Antonio Conte currently lacks options outside of his starting eleven and competition is needed if they are to successfully defend their title. Gazzetta dello Sport report that the Italian is interested in signing Claudio Marchisio, who he has worked closely with before.

The midfielder is understood to be unhappy at Juventus due to being a bit-part player under the current regime. Ahead of the World Cup, he wants to play regular first team football and could be prepared to force a move before the transfer window closes. The Serie A champions already have a lot of players in the position and have recently bought Blaise Matuidi, which further limit the minutes that Marchisio is likely to be given.

What would he bring to Stamford Bridge?

The Blues have been criticised for their lack of ambition and poor squad planning this summer, but those will quickly be brushed to one side if they can land Marchisio. Despite having an underwhelming 2016/17 campaign, the midfielder is still regarded as a great player and it would send a statement to the rest of the division if Chelsea manage to bring him to the Premier League.

There is already a working relationship between Marchisio and Conte, which would mean that he would be able to adapt quickly to the style at Chelsea. He understands what it requires to be successful in a team managed by his fellow Italian, while the Blues’ manager trusts the midfielder. That can’t be said about certain other players currently at Stamford Bridge.

It has already been evident that Chelsea are short in central midfield as they resorted to playing David Luiz there at the weekend. The Brazilian played well, but it underlined the squad problems that the club have. Marchisio is disciplined and capable of carrying out a specific role in the team, which appeals to Conte. He can be a creative presence from deep and offers more than Cesc Fabregas does in terms of defensive work. It would be a smart signing if the Blues can pull it off.

How likely is a deal?

Juventus have already lost two important players this summer in Dani Alves and Leonardo Bonucci. It would be a surprise if they also let Marchisio leave the club. The midfielder could force the issue, but unless Chelsea submit a huge offer, a transfer looks unlikely at this late stage of the window. Conte will want to add another central midfielder, but there are other positions that are viewed as a bigger priority.

Marchisio to Chelsea
Transfer Likelihood
The Boot Room's Verdict
This one isn’t impossible, but it would take a lot of work to get it completed before the deadline. Perhaps one for a future window.
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