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.