Euro 2012: How Italy Could Be The Dark Horses

14 06 2012

It’s hard to fathom the concept of Italy entering a tournament as underdogs. Winners of the World Cup on four occasions and European Champions just the once back in 1968, the demise of the national team since the success in Germany 2006 has been rapid. However, since the appointment of Cesare Prandelli he has brought with him a calm reassurance. Replacing Marcelo Lippi after the 2010 World Cup, Prandelli did not fall into the trap of his predecessor by relying on trusted but out of form players, and since his debut against the Ivory Coast at Upton Park in August 2010, he has tried to freshen up the ranks. This summer’s Euro 2012 tournament even sees perennial underachievers England being given better odds than the Italians, but rule them out at your peril.

The Azzurri come into the Championship embraced in turmoil back on the peninsula in uncannily similar circumstances to six years ago. Investigations have undergone surrounding match fixing which has seen a few of the squad’s players become implicated. Gianluigi Buffon and Leonardo Bonucci have been mentioned while defender Domenico Criscito has been omitted from the final 23 man squad, with police searching his room at Coverciano at 6am. With conditions in 2006 being precarious pre-tournament with the likes of AC Milan, Lazio, Juventus and Fiorentina all implicated in the initial Calciopoli report, the squad used it as extra incentive to reward the tifosi. That same determination and feeling of invincibility perhaps could reoccur in Poland and Ukraine.

One player Prandelli wanted to symbolise the new regime was Antonio Cassano, a fantasista who like Fabrizio Miccoli, had not been awarded with enough chances with the National team. The importance of ‘Fantantonio’ is undeniable, as proven by being the top scorer with six in qualifying, but after suffering a stroke at the end of October, the Milan forward has only been back in first team action since April and his fitness could be an issue. Attacking options are short with main hope Giuseppe Rossi being riddled with a severe knee injury. A cruciate ligament injury he sustained against Real Madrid in October had initially made it a race to be fit in time for the Championships, but he damaged them once more in April upon his return to training.

Claudio Marchisio Needs To Carry His Club Form Into Euro 2012

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Ferrari Should Bide Their Time With Massa

29 05 2012

The F1 paddock has been rife with rumours since the season opener in Australia that Felipe Massa’s position at Ferrari is attainable. The Brazilian has faced great scrutiny from critics after struggling to come to terms with a challenging F2012. Maybe less would have been made of his struggle had the immeasurably talented Fernando Alonso not been able to tame an uncontrollable beast in the opening four rounds until the upgrades post-Mugello.

Ever since he spun the car going into turn 6 in Melbourne in the first practice session of the year, after oddly putting his tyres on the grass, the Brazilian has seen his status questioned ubiquitously. The amplified pressure has occurred mainly because he has struggled to show pace since his horrific accident in 2009 at the Hungaroring when he was struck in the head by an unattached suspension spring from his compatriot Rubens Barrichello’s car.

Upon his return in 2010 his form was varied, but this is a man who can just as easily fail to score a point as secure a place on the podium. Five podiums and a sixth place finish in the Championship was not a bad return to racing for Massa, but it was his inability to build on this the following year when heads began to be scratched in Italy and patience began to wear thin.

Felipe Massa Is Fighting For His Ferrari Future

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Alejandro Grimaldo – The Latest Spanish Gem

24 05 2012

La Masia churns out talented individuals on an annual basis, but there is a sense of eagerness when the name Alejandro Grimaldo crops up in Catalonia. The left-back spot has not been a particular position of strength for the Cantera over the past decade, with players like Carles Planas, Oscar Lopez and even Fernando Navarro – despite enjoying remote success once leaving – failing to establish themselves amongst the senior ranks. Since Sergi Barjuán broke through at the start of the 1990’s, the Nou Camp has not had anyone to get excited about down the left flank, with Marc Muniesa being the most recent canterano, but he has a preference to play centrally. Despite this, the emergence of Grimaldo gives Culés hope that they have identified the left-sided Dani Alves.

Grimaldo was signed as a 13-year-old from Valencia in 2008, where he played for Los Che as a left winger wearing the number 10 shirt. His progression has been rapid and he is part of a select group of superstars who are progressing at Barcelona at the moment. Some of his teammates over the past few years have included current Arsenal pair Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin as well as Juventus defender Pol Garcia. The ‘1995 generation’ has swept everything before them at ‘Juvenil’ level including the Nike Premier Cup in Manchester.

Alejandro Grimaldo – The Latest Gem At La Masia

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Perfection From Price But Klitschko’s Should Wait

20 05 2012

David Price became British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion last night after brushing aside Sam Sexton with a fourth round knock-out.

Fighting at Aintree, in his home-town of Liverpool, Price secured his 13th career win to keep his record as an unbeaten fighter intact. Already impressing at amateur level with medals at the Olympics and Commonwealth games, the 28-year-old showed why he has been touted as a future world champion, with talks of a fight against either of the supreme Klitschko’s next year.

He possesses all the capabilities of a top class fighter, and the contest against Sexton allowed him to demonstrate more of his aptitudes. A dominant jab kept his Norwich opponent pinned back and the use of fast combinations and switching to the body saw him put in a flawless display.

David Price Makes it 13-0.

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The Ill-Fated Career Of Francesco Coco

11 05 2012

The pressure of being labelled as the next Paolo Maldini can be strenuous on any soul, but Francesco Coco for a moment looked like he might have been the replacement for the legendary left-back for both club and country. When the adventurous full-back, who also had the capabilities to play in midfield, broke onto the scene in the mid 90’s, Milan looked to have the heir apparent to the iconic captain.

Coco moved to the province of Legnano, Milan, at the age of three, and after a few years in Como’s academy playing as a striker, was signed by Milan. When making his debut against Padova in 1995, goalscorer and Captain Francesco Baresi dedicated his winning goal to Coco, hoping to bless his new career. Sicilian born Coco was not like most traditional full backs. Despite playing on the left, his preferred foot was his right which played favourably into his hands when facing an inside forward, but not much so when pushing up-field. Known for his pace, physicality, determination and stamina, Coco also had the ability to cross with both feet which left the Milanisti excited about how good he could become.

Loan spells to Vicenza (hampered by a knee injury) and Torino allowed the Sicilian to gain valuable match experience and upon his return in 2000 he made his Azzurri debut in the 3-0 win against Romania. After this successful 2000/01 campaign he was given the surprise opportunity to play for Barcelona, thus becoming the first Italian to play for the Blaugrana. He impressed the Catalans with his performance in the 2-0 win at the San Siro the previous season where he scored the first and assisted Oliver Bierhoff for the second. Fatih Terim had no reluctance in letting him move to Spain on loan, with the Turk preferring Serginho ahead of the Italian.

Francesco Coco During His Azzurri Days

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Cotto Gives Magical Mayweather A Stern Test

6 05 2012

Floyd Mayweather defeated a resilient Miguel Cotto to become WBA light-middleweight champion, refining his undefeated record to 43-0 and winning his eight world title.

The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas proved a telling venue for a fight which will be remembered as a true classic, with Mayweather having to overcome his toughest opponent yet. In a month’s time Manny Pacquiao will face Timothy Bradley in the same ring, and Mayweather laid down a marker for ‘Pacman‘ with his most inspiring performance for a while.

Leading up to this fight ‘Money’ was continuingly respectful of Cotto’s credentials, labelling him as a future Hall of Famer and in his opinion an undefeated fighter, because of certain circumstances in his two professional defeats to Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito.

Mayweather Celebrates With The Belts

Mayweather Celebrates With The Belts

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Malaga Are Finding Out Money Doesn’t Buy Instant Success

1 11 2011

The historically perennial yo-yo club Malaga have enjoyed the riches of being owned by a billionaire since 2010, and their lavish spending this summer whetted the appetites of the neutral fan hoping to see the duopoly of Real Madrid and Barcelona demolished.

The attraction of ‘El Clasico’ is humongous, but with it sees a Spanish Primera Division struggling for competition because of the financial equality. Television rights are negotiated individually, which has led to the giant separation in revenue, a system which saw Sevilla President Jose Maria del Nido label La Liga as “not the biggest mess in Europe, but in the world.”

Malaga, like Manchester City and Paris St Germain in recent times (although not Getafe) have been lucky enough to be acquired by an eastern tycoon. Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Abdullah Al Ahmed Al Thani, a member of the Qatari Royal Family, bought the club from former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz for around €25 million last year, and has given the club a whole new feel.

Ruud van Nistelrooy Is One Of A Number Of Big Name Signings For Malaga

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