Uefa Europa League 2012/13 Draw

Uefa Europa League 2012/13 Draw

After the yesterday Champions League draw, today has been the big day for the very less important tournament, Europa League. Unfortunately since its start Italian teams haven’t put a lot of effort on trying to win the award, from a financial point of view it could seem a right decision (the reward for such a long competition are very poor), but in fact it is not, because this trophy contributes heavily on the scores that determines how many teams each nation could qualify for the Uefa Champions League. So it comes as no surprise that the Italian football is now in the 4th place of this ranking well behind Bundesliga which is the last league that could qualify 4 teams for the bigger European award and, that Portugal and France are now very close to Italy. Anyway let’s consider the today draft.

Udinese hasn’t been very lucky, in the group A they have reached Liverpool, Anzhi and Young Boys. The English team is one of my favourite but is only a far relative of the Benitez’ Armada that reached twice the finals in the Uefa Champions League, and now they struggle to find an identity, they have recently bought the talented Fabio Borini from Roma, a great forward in my opinion who will leave his mark on this season, but they still lack something as a team I think more than on the single players. Suarez, is a poor racist but a great player, while Carroll is definitely not up to scratch (he’s still not up to scratch but is now on loan). Rodgers as new coach could be the right choice but for now we have seen his former team Swansea still playing a great football, while his new one is playing badly, was the last season a great one thanks to him or the Swansea club organization? We’ll see. Anzhi the very rich team of Samuel Eto’o and of the troubled Caucasus area could be a real danger, especially because the Cameroonian is a real champion and could win matches all alone and I think it won’t be easy to play at their home field. Young Boys as usual happens with Swiss teams are undervalued by Italians, we think that Swiss can only ski or make chocolate, but history tells us that they’re well organised and that it’s very difficult to score, at their stadium they could beat anyone. I think that Udinese is weaker than the last year, unless Muriel grows really fast, he’s a potential champion, someone so strong that Sanchez the former Udinese player now at Barçelona would seem an amateur, but unfortunately we have no guarantees on his growth, this fact, the sold of two key players this summer and another year on the shoulder of their captain and main scorer Di Natale could be an obstacle too big to avoid. My forecast: 1. Liverpool; 2. Anzhi 50% – Udinese 50%; 4. Young Boys.

In the group F Napoli will face PSV Eindovehn, Dnipro form Ukraine and AIK from Sweden. It doesn’t seem a mission impossible for the azzurri. PSV is not the great team of the past, but never trust Nederlands teams, they’re always a danger, moreover their new coach is Advocaat one of the most experienced and winner coach on the market, they have signed Mark van Bommel also, so it’s necessary to keep them in mind if you want to win the group. Dnipro and AIK are not exactly famous teams and honestly I don’t think they will be such a difficult hurdle for Napoli. The Italian team has sold Lavezzi to PSG but has signed Insigne a young talented forward and has kept its base, I think they could have only two issues, the first one they want to focus on the Seria A more than on Europe, that’s clear, the second one their coach Mazzari is not skilled enough for a European tournament (and in my opinion for the championship too). My forecast: 1. Napoli; 2. PSV; 3. Dnipro; 4. AIK.

In group H Internazionale will face Russian Rubin Kazan, Partizan from Beograd and Neftçi from the remote Azerbaijan. Inter is the strongest team of the group, but, they have signed a very young and inexperienced coach, they struggled too much in the qualification stages against weaker teams, and they want to focus on the championship more than on Europe too. Moreover Rubin is a tough challenger, Partizan is not so good but when they play at home could be difficult to get some points. Neftçi should be the victim of the group. My forecast: 1. Internazionale FC; 2. Rubin; 3. Partizan; 4. Neftçi.

In group J Lazio has its work cut out, they will face Tottenham, Panathinaikos and Maribor. Maribor is the weakest team of the group, even if a lot of good players have recently started a career from here. Panathinaikos has faced troubles with the ownership, and I think they’re far weaker than some years ago, they have let go their most important players, the only thing that could work for them is that is always difficult to play in Athens. Tottenham is the strongest team, they have plenty of talented players, the loss of Modric is not so big, I don’t think he is so strong, but they’ve a new coach Villas Boas who is not a guarantee after his first year in Premier League. But they have kept most of their players and are an ambitious team, if they don’t focus too much on the championship they will win the group. Lazio has got a new coach, but a very weak transfer market, just two players signed, and only one of them seems a good one, but they’ve only Klose as a talented scorer, if he wasn’t fit they’d face troubles. Moreover the environment doesn’t seem a quiet one and in my opinion they are going to face a troubled season. My forecast: 1. Tottenham; 2. Lazio; 3. Panathinakos; 4. Maribor.

Uefa Champions League Draw

Uefa Champions League 2012/13 Draw

Uefa has just made the annual draw of the Uefa Champions League, the most exciting football competition in the world. This year only two Italian teams have reached the group stage, while Udinese lost its qualification match. That’s a very sad news but honestly Italian football cannot compete with the three big championships at the moment in Europe, Premier, Liga and Bundesliga, so we have to make do with that.

Juventus is in the Group E with Chelsea, in my opinion the strongest team in the group, and with insidious Ukrainian team Shakthar, while the Danish side shouldn’t be a big obstacle for the bianconeri. They face only two slight problems, they don’t play in Champions from quite a lot of time and maybe some of their key players lack the experience on that stage (Vidal, Bonucci, Matri, Quagliarella, etc.) and, that Conte will be disqualified for the whole group stage. While Shakthar that perhaps has less quality that Juventus, is used to play the Champions and at home could be a tough team to play against. Maybe Nordsjælland is not that bad but history says that Danish teams don’t go far in this competition…Chelsea is definitely the most improved team in Europe after the summer transfer market, in my opinion even more than PSG, they finally bought a man of pure fantasy like Hazard, the player they have lacked since Zola and they could really aim to win the Premier and to reach semi-finals of Champions, even if I think this is the strongest Chelsea since the Mourinho era no-one has won the major European tournament two times in a row since AC Milan in 1989-1990, thus I don’t think Chelsea will this year. My forecast: 1. Chelsea; 2. Juventus 65%-Shaktar 35%; 4. Nordsjælland.

AC Milan has been drawn in the group C, the revolutionised team has a difficult road to travel. Zenit is a consolidated team, it won twice the league in the last two years and it is now at the top of the league, what’s more this year the Russian championship follow the European calendar playing from autumn to spring and since they have an Italian coach I think they will benefice of the news already this year. They have a very good team with a strong base that play together since a while, and Mr. Spalletti is a very good coach, so be careful Milan, you’ve got a contender for the first place. Anderlecht like many times Belgian teams are very difficult to play with, they close every space and are very good at their home stadium, anyway I don’t thing they could go through the next stage. Malaga is a weakened team with an experienced coach, it’s difficult to say if they will be competitive because of their troubles with their owners, I think it will be very difficult for them to go through. AC Milan has faced a huge change recently and now is a totally different team from the one that classified 2nd in the last Serie A. I think that the transfer market hasn’t gone as it should and now they are definitely weaker than before. Bojan is a talented player but scores few goals, Pato is always being injured, Robinho scores 3 goals and misses 30, Pazzini is an honest player but not a champion, and behind them things are not very different. My forecast: 1. AC Milan 50% – Zenit 50%; 3. Malaga 50% – Anderlecht 50%.

Let’s we hope to have fun! Just another thing I’m really happy for Iniesta who has won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, he really deserves it!

Countdown has already begun for Allegri

Tough times if you work for AC Milan

That’s my forecast, Massimiliano Allegri AC Milan coach has his work cut out, with a transfer market that has changed his team from a good one to a mediocre one, to say the least, he has the impossible duty to compete for the title, or at least to fight for the 3rd place without be fired before the end of the season.

After the first match (0-1 for Sampdoria, a team just promoted from the Serie B), we could even point out what is his deadline, not the end of the season, not Christmas, not the end of the first half of the championship, but the 7th October, when the first derby will take place, by then AC Milan should be in the very first positions or the result of the derby will be crucial. For instance if Allegri’s team will make just another 2 wins, 2 ties and 1 defeat, with a calendar not exactly tough the match against Internazionale will decide his destiny. A defeat will be probably his last match and he will act as a scapegoat for the bad start, maybe for the whole season, a win could just make him gain a little more time, but I strongly doubt that Allegri will be the AC Milan coach in the next may.

Antonio Conte attacks!!!

Is the audience envious of me?

The same old story, someone sentenced you and minutes later you are already accusing him of being “a supporter [of another team]”. For a man who has paid his lawyers lots of money (I guess) and who has its defence based on the concept of envy, well what else could you expect?

I mean you need to pay someone to accuse someone other to be envious of you? Come on…that’s not a defence that’s a fight between children.

The fact that someone could sentence you to a penalty and even be above the board is something unheard of in Italy, let’s just think that for this appeal Conte hired a MP of the Italian Parliament as his lawyer.

We are the country where Valentino Rossi (the famous rider) was allowed to broadcast a press release in the main Italian news program without asking to him anything because he was accused of not paying taxes (fact that was the truth in fact he paid a lot of money to avoid to go to court). Normal people use Youtube, he used our public television. In this context you can imagine how a ridiculous defence from the present Juventus’ coach could be believed by someone, he first said he wasn’t involved in this scandal, then he tried to negotiate his penalty, in my opinion a clue of his guilty, because a man extremely rich doesn’t risk anything by being disqualified for even three seasons, there are people who prefer to watch themselves in the mirror and be proud of themselves and other that negotiate even if they can afford to don’t do it. Anyway he then try to defend himself by accusing Carobbio of envy and of holding a grudge against him because there was an argument between their wives, everyone who has ever seen a “Law & Order” episode can affirm that this is not a defence this is a joke. Then when everything is (nearly) over he attacks the judges because he disagrees with them, that’s not exactly a surprise since he was graced by the accuse that doesn’t accuse him of a more serious offence (that’s what one of the judges said), on what basis he accuses the justice? He said that he has never seen something like that happen in a court, I deeply doubt that Conte has assisted to so many trials to affirm something like that, but most important he said that perhaps the judge was a supporter [of another club]…

That’s Italy, arguments like these can even convince someone of the injustice he suffered, so with very no surprise we have got another martyr…

The roots of match fixing in Italy

Hard choices

The recent scandal of match fixing is not even close to an end, but our football seems unable to think to everything else. I have a theory, I think that the roots of this scandal are older than most people think, the seeds were planted in 1979-80.

That was the date of the first Italian fixing match scandal. I think that at that time we made our biggest mistakes, that still today have an influence in our football. In the first years of 80s there was the huge scandal called “Totonero” which involved dozens of players and important clubs, at the end of the trial, AC Milan and Lazio were relegated in Serie B, two managers were found guilty, one of them was the Milan’s president at that time, and 18 player were sentenced to various punishment from been disqualified from 3 months to 6 years. One of them was Paolo Rossi, the one who would won the World cup two years later in Spain. I think that everything started at that time, Paolo Rossi has become in the next thirty years a hero of the Italian expedition to Spain and not the man who cheat before winning the title, no-one likes to remember that the man who took the cup in Madrid was the man who was involved in the “Totonero” scandal.

We have simply removed the bad things to remember only the good ones.

In 1982 after the triumph in the World Cup the Italian federation crossed out 2 years of ban at the players that were still facing one. Why? To celebrate. That was completely crazy, what was the link between a victory and a ban for match fixing is something at least obscure.

So after only 4 years another scandal went off, the so-called “Totonero-bis”. Only Udinese in Serie A were involved, and only 2 managers of the top league were found guilty, but there were other 6 clubs in Serie B involved with 10 managers One of them was Renzo Ulivieri the present head of the coaches association, he was sentenced to 3 years, someone still remember? I dare say no. There were 28 players found guilty. In Serie C, now Lega Pro, the third level of football, there were 2 clubs involved, 5 managers and 8 players sentenced.

That happened only 4 years later, that was the result of the glorification of the Italian football after the Spanish World Cup of 1982, the Paolo Rossi myth, the reduction on the bans after the victory.

Anyway after a quarter of century, with a nation raised up with the legend of the great Italian team which won the title in 1982, and no or little reference of the scandal that surrounded it, the same scandal got off a spectacular start and Italian football is facing another dramatic challenge.

Is it a surprise? Is it something unusual? Well History says no. When you have spent 30 years talking about the heroes of Spain, but you forget to mention that the “goleador” was someone convicted for match fixing, and he’s now a well-know media personality you cannot be surprised if another scandal goes off. You cannot be surprised if you win a World Cup and then you cut the penalty on those found guilty. You cannot be surprised in a country where the last matches of every season are not played because you don’t want to make enemies. It’s something natural, it’s something that we prepared 30 years ago and that we have never tried hard to solve. The Singapore gang had operated in Italy for around 10 years, it means that we won’t never know how many matches had been fixed for real, too many years and probably too many people had been involved. In fact the present match fixing scandal is the largest of ever, it has already involved more clubs and more players that the preceding two combined. What’s more the penal investigation is still going so we cannot even be sure that those who have been involved so far are the only one who risk something.

For these historical and social reasons I cannot think that the federation is doing enough, they’ve been too soft with all the sides involved, so it’s even too easy to forecast another scandal in the coming years.

About richardsilverstein.com file leaked

It’s news of these days that a blogger has published on the richardsilverstein.com a supposed leaked file about the possible war between Israel an Iran, they even called it a plan.

For who haven’t read it it’s a supposed plan to persuade ministers and officials who are not in favour of the war. I don’t want to discuss the authenticity of the document, which I deeply doubt, but the fact that it has been leaked to stop a war against Iran, in a contest where the aim is to promote Israeli democracy (that’s the subheading of the blog).

You could be against the war for thousands of reasons, I respect that, anyone has the right to think what he likes, but what about democracy?

When you are part of a democracy and you elect your MPs you put them in charge of all the issues that laws allow, the same with militaries, they are experts in their fields and even if they are not elected they are under the control of elected organs.  I think that you can campaign against them, you can hate them, you can change your mind, but I think that if you’re a real pro-democracy person you should accept the rules of democracy.

One of them says that you have to respect the majority even if you don’t like its decisions, you can oppose them by using the means of the democracy. You cannot leak a file that it’s supposed to be critical for national security, because this is not democratic, and not because it’s important for the security itself but because in a democratic context you cannot use sabotage to reach your aims, you have to accept that you are not in charge of that problem and fight for your believes in another way. That’s something really bully and at the same time hypocrite, you don’t like what the majority likes and so you decide to put your opinion above all the others hiding yourself behind the freedom of speech, but democracy is not anarchy, there are rules that you have to follow, otherwise how could you tell yourself apart from a dictator?

 

 

PS. I strongly believe that richardsilverstain.com is a fake antagonist blog of Israel, I think that the author is a source of propaganda, there are too many things that are simply too hypocrite to be genuine. Anyway the fact that someone could be a credible source of news using as subheading of his website “Promoting Israeli democracy” and then leaking a file supposed to be reserved is something that has stroke me.