Already began the coverage of Italy HERE, but no time to get into individual reports of all the games as they are coming thick and fast. So…seems for the best to have an open thread and add to it ideally a few words daily, but with work and oscar and the awful timings, I will aim to add words close to thereabouts.
Two great performances from La Nazionale, against two opponents renowned for their solidity and resolute defensive systems. Neither gave Italy any serious issues. The midfield is working well, as is the side as a whole, with even Immobile currently defying the many conclusions of him proving our weakness.
Its rare for a team to start so dominant in the group stages and maintain that form to the latter stages, yet we cannot knock Italy for doing so damn well. And whilst many – admittedly many english – pundits are talking of the weaknesses of our opponents more than the fluidity or dominance of Mancini’s very well drilled squad, it is too early to tell much and the best we could hope for has come true. Which has made me and many more fans of Italy very happy indeed!
Wales will provide an apparently sterner test, and they do have some tricky, pacy, talented players on the break, namely Bale, James and of course our old chum Ramsey. And Italy will rest players as well as give others a chance, not wholesale changes, for I assume Mancini is too wily to ruin the wonderful momentum built in the opening fixtures. We will hope to see Chiesa get a start, maybe Belotti also, with Acerbi probable to replace Chiellini, or Bastoni.
Before leaving La nazionale…Locatelli is proving exceptional, truly grasping the opportunity he would not have been given had the EUROs not been postponed. Also playing a little out of position, as he is deployed deeper for Sassuolo, more as a regista-esque player, very good at building the play swiftly and able to get stuck in to help mop up in the middle and screen the defence. He is certainly exhibiting much of what we lack, and our interest must be concrete given the rumours for many moons now.
Is his price increasing? I suspect so. Though I like to believe there is some substance to the suggestions that he wants Juve. So it could be a matter of us stretching a little towards the demands of the cunning Carnevali. Some report that we are so pressed for cash that we are pushing hard for a player as a counter weight in the deal. Which at first seemed Fagioli, which bothered me, for he is by far the most talented prospect we have in the midfield and Max has spoken very highly of him in the past. More recently, it appears that Dragusin may well be of interest to Sassuolo, the Romanian CB was voted our finest youth talent not long ago, above Fagioli and others, by a selection of journalists and FIGC youth trainers…
Clearly the midfield is the most needy of improvement, yet we have a hard game to play to shift and make space, bring money in and also then meet the ever increasing asking price for Locatelli. And what figures are we to expect??? His market value could well rise to as much as 50-60m if any PL clubs come calling riding the crests of the waves of any further EUROs gilded performances. Dragusin must be 10-15m…so I suspect around 30-40m plus the young Romanian could prove enough.
I have major reservations of Cherubini, who has zero experience as a mercato expert, no known long established connections to clubs and agents or demonstrable experience in the role. It smacks yet again of the same saga with Pirlo; Agnelli promoting to a key role, one of his most loyal underlings. We also have little idea how much money we have to deal with, and that is before we even consider that this is not FIFA or PES, we have players on big wages we have to move to make space for any incoming recruits…
Ramsey is very hard to get to another club for this reason, added to his appalling injury record. Rabiot is also hard to move, who is also on big money, and yet many Juventini – at least on twitter – seem to rate him far more highly than my own conclusion of a player who has given two decent months of form in two years…Unfortunately, we may need to sell, and try as hard as possible to mitigate our losses, before we can buy. The rumours of needing to find 100m in capital gain to balance the books by the end of June are hardly encouraging.
Still, these concerns aside, it makes zero sense for any to be criticising the club for not signing Locatelli already. The player has likely said he will go to juve, told his agent and club to sort out the price OR I will decide after the EUROS. Either way the move would not be done yet. And to suggest we should just pay whatever Sassuolo demand is…the sign of a ‘fan’ who does not understand basic economics let alone football.
Don’t expect any resolution of the Locatelli story until we have been dumped out the EUROS, and yet, even if we are before many hope and dream, or even expect…already all bodes very well indeed for the future, as in the next World Cup. A run to the knockouts with a perfect qualifying and group stage record will stand us in brilliant position with so many of this squad, the vast majority, set to stay together. Progress has already been made.
Briefly still on Juve…some whispers in mainly the tabloids, as in tuttojuve, of our interest in Brazillian left back Carlos Augusto…Who has impressed for Serie B side Monza, yet they want 15m. We are perhaps offering Rafia.
Enough for now…though briefly, I have been impressed with the potential mostly of the Netherlands, who cannot defend, yet play some brilliant attacking football under De Boer. And why are we not looking at Dumfries…months back!
Please use this as an ongoing thread for EUROS chitchat…
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England were restrained, conservative, and yet again the system and Southgate were their biggest weakness. The jocks were hard fighting, well organised, and could well have won. Awful for my english blood (half sicilian) and upbringing to find the england team even somehow more prone to throw themselves to the floor than scrap when faced with aggression…Only Tyrone Minge seemed up for it. No major surprise to see the result, or Southgate’s pitiful post match press chat, for he was the prime choice for the english FA not due to his managerial prowess, but 100% due to his ability to deal with the media and come across as the nicest man in football.
I have been startled by the twitter trend following drone following of HATE ENGLAND…too many morons on twitter, focus on gary neville, who most english find a moron, rather than any semblance of objectivity. Why is Southgate playing two DMs? Why is Sancho not playing? Why is Grealish not playing? I wont get too into the mindless eager for attention to follow twitter trends spastics who hate england, knowing fuck all of england…after speaking with one of my beloved english brothers just now who laughed at the idea of ‘all english fans’ think they are favourites…He is similar to me, in terms of main aim is to play some decent football, which england have not done yet, and to get into the knockout phases, which both England and Italy will do. AFter which///its a roll of the dice.
What close to 100% of these spastics on twitter who keep making these sweeping generalisations of english fans, and english media, fail to grasp, is that they follow twitter trends and Gary Neville. not proper fans, proper pundits…Where are these ‘fans’ now?? When the english media and fans are savaging England???
A shame to find Morata still missing huge chances, and yet at least he got his tap-in. Which should help avoid his head dropping too low. I am not supportive of the move to keep him at Juve. The total investment of wages, loan and purchase prise reaches towards 100m, which presently does not look an intelligent move. His all round game is solid and I suspect he will prosper under Max, yet much will depend upon whether Ronaldo can be moved out, as Morata often played looking for the Portuguese. His mentality was an issue previously. As he seems a sensitive chap in the head and heart who can go through periods of quite poor finishing. I had thought in the early months of his return that he looked stronger, that we were getting the pinnacle of his career, but it faded, then returned only briefly at the end of the season.
I was happy to see Tek making the save of the tournament so far, when denying Morata from close range. Spread himself brilliantly and got out so swiftly, I have no concerns that he is very much on the downturn of his career.
Couldn’t help but be pleased to see the Germs get back on track, like a machine nobody thought still worked, slowly coming to life, not all parts working but some very much powering up. Gosens was superb, a surprise to those who don’t watch Atalanta, and whilst I would love for Juve to get him, it seems unlikely as he will have more monied suitors. It would not surprise me to see them continue their resurgence, as they have an iron will and plenty of talent. Still…they defend poorly. As do Portugal. Who rely too much on Ronaldo, which some analysts suggested pre-tournament was holding up potential development of the squad. Sounds familiar eh!
On a more positive note, Ronaldo’s mega run from defending a set piece to scoring a superb counter attacking goal, may well shift some thinking at other clubs with Jorge Mendes assuredly sounding out a few clubs to find him a new adventure.
The French held by Hungary was amusing. They have the most talented squad, but seemingly little chemistry within whatever system they play. Still favourites for me, as they have so much quality they are always likely to beat most teams and prove very hard indeed to beat.
Have lost track a little as back at work, yet whenever I walk anywhere near any italians or english I lose half hour on football talk. With the italians mixed between content and not hopeful and dumb boastful.
I though we played well against Wales. They set up to defend deep, and after the red card, they defended often close to always with 9 behind the ball, which made it difficult. Verratti looked classy, yet with so many changes to the side it was hard to judge how much that class could work for us. And I couldn’t help but feel disappointed, even with the whole squad in rotation, to find us conceding that chance to Bale, which he should have scored. Yet this in itself confirms how dominant we have been.
As I said today at work in my many football chitchats…Italy have faced three teams, were well worth of beating them all, played some great football, were on the front foot constantly, barely gave away any clear cut openings and yet…its Wales – who are tough and have some high level talents in the final third, Switzerland – who are always very solid but looked toothless against us and Turkey – who looked very solid in qualifying but have been in disarray in the tournament. At best, its 3 top 20-30 teams. With a quick peek at the FIFA rankings, which are always skewed by qualifying, finding the Swiss 13th, Wales as 17th and Turkey in 29th.
In short, no matter our 30 unbeaten games, which is splendid, no matter the great football we are playing…we are yet to face anywhere neat the best, as in a top ten ranked side. So far, so good.
I was happy to see the Germs come good. Unsurprised to see Belgium improve with De Bruyne and Eden Hazard back. They seem for me perhaps as strong a favourite as any side, for they have some sparkling, powerful attacking talents are are solid all over the field. If they find any momentum, they could be very good indeed with a run of games.
Let us see how the English get on this evening. For the Czechs are capable of either springing a surprise OR finally pushing Southgate to loosen the shackles and let the major strengths run amok…And yes, I do think England have major strengths in the final third. I would love to have Kane at Juve. Probably my favourite, most complete forward on the planet. Also Grealish is woefully neglected. Worse still Sancho. And Rashford.
The frogs done by their old chums the Swiss! Great to see…and Spain can’t stop scoring, nor now conceding…best night of the tournament so far. Great to see sides going till the final whistle and beyond, even when all hope looks lost.