Sunday, July 15, 2018

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Serie A. When Spain opened its league for foreign players in 1973, there was outcry that the Spanish clubs we
Serie A. When Spain opened its league for foreign players in 1973, there was outcry that the Spanish clubs were scooping the best players in the world. The same criticism was applied to Italy – and it was much more justified. There were big differences between Spain and Italy – generally, 4-5 Spanish clubs made big purchases and the rest bought mostly cheaper South American and Yugoslavian players – not even big stars, but reliable professionals. Also, the Spanish clubs often kept three foreigners, one permanently benched, for the rules permitted only two to play in a game. The Italians never saw any reason to keep on payroll three expensive imports, since only two could play. They spent money, but expected the foreigners to be outstanding, played them a lot, and never hesitated to replace them with bigger current talent – already Liam Brady was sold by Juventus to smaller club, for Platini and Boniek were coming, already Inter sold Herbert Prohaska to make room for Hansi Muller. But in Italy even small clubs were ready and willing to pay a lot for the services of world class stars, so the league was quickly saturated with big names – Krol in Napoli, Trevor Francis in Sampdoria, Falcao in Roma, Edinho and Ivica Surjak in Udinese, Dirceu and Zmuda in Verona, Schachner in Cesena, Passarela and Bertoni in Fiorentina, to name some of the greatest stars. With them, the Italian championship was rapidly becoming not only more competitive, but also more attractive and foreign players wanted to join. Especially when money was also very good. Now smaller clubs, wise enough to get top talent ahead of bigger clubs, were becoming quite even and traditional status quo was disturbed – already Milan, Lazio, and Bologna were in second division. This season brought another casualty of the new relative equality. Meantime, there were rapidly rising teams. Yet, tradition was not giving up at all – scoring continued to be low, defense ruled, and everybody was generally playing for a tie. Only three teams finished with less than 10 ties this year and at the other end was Udinese – they tied 20 out of 30 championship games! Not surprisingly just 6 clubs managed to win more than 10 matches. Seven teams less than a goal-per-game average and the highest scoring team, Juventus, achieved only 1.6 goals-per-game average. There was one hopeless outsider and one superior and almost unchalanged leader – despite the parity, there was no race for the title.
Catanzaro was last with 13 points, winning only 2 matches during the campaign. Expected outsider, though.
Cesena finished 15th with 22 points. Also expected.
Cagliari was 14th with 26 points. They were going downhill for quite some time, but still it was disturbing to see them relegated.
Ascoli, one of the prime candidates for relegation, survived - 13th with 27 points. With difficulties, but survived.
Genoa, with Belgian Vandereycken and Dutch striker Peters, also survived - 12th with 27 points.
Pisa, one more club seen as likely candidate for relegation, also escaped with the help of Swedish star Bergreen - 11th with 27 points.
Napoli, with Ruud Krol, managed 10th place with 28 points. The team was not great and even with the help of one of the best central defenders in the world they were fighting to avoid relegation than anything else.
Avellino, also with 28 points, took 9th place. Yes, they largely fought to survive, having been among the prime candidates for relegation, but all ended more than well – rarely they finished that high in the table.
Torino was starting losing ground, they finished 8th with 30 points, but there was no mistake: they missed the moment to stars rebuilding, failed to replace players when the going was fine, and may be buying the Dutch defender van der Korput was not the best idea – he was good, but not great. Not inspirational enough.
Sampdoria ended 7th with 31 points, but they were going in the opposite direction of Torino – improving, although this was still early stage of development. They placed their bet on British feet and what those were! Trevor Francis and Liam Brady.
Udinese – another team climbing up. 6th this year with 32 points, but they were not afraid to spend money on big stars – and soon to get arguably the best attacking midfielder in the world between 1975 and 1985.
Fiorentina - 5th with 34 points. Already very strong team, which evidently was going to stay strong. Yet, a team made of Antognoni, Passarella, Daniel Bertoni, Graziani, Patrico Sala, Cuccureddu should have played larger role...
Perhaps the most surprising team was Verona – they finished 4th with 35 points. Top, left to right:  Alberto Torresin, Antonio Di Gennaro, Pietro Fanna, Roberto Tricella, Luciano Spinosi, Wladyslaw Zmuda, Claudio Garella.
Middle, left to right:  Luigi Manueli, Dirceu, Mario Guidetti, Sacchetti, Emidio Oddi, Luciano Marangon.
Bottom, left to right:  Mauro Gibellini, Domenico Penzo, Guglielmi, Domenico Volpati, Adriano Fedele.
Coming out of the blue and may be just running on good luck – most players here were yet unknown (Di Gennaro, Fanna, Tricella, to name those who were national team players a few years later), and it was even felt that good foreign purchase was the reason for the unlikely success, but it will short lived, for both Polish defender Zmuda and Brazilian midfielder Dirceu were getting dangerously old. As it turned out, Verona was not even close to their biggest success.
Inter - 3rd with 38 points. There was big effort made to reinforce the team, but in the same time it was strange effort: getting Hansi Muller immediately made Herbert Prohaska redundand and he was sold. But Juary – good, but not fantastic striker, remained. Perhaps would have been better to sell Juary, keep Prohaska, and add world class striker... but apparently Inter made its mind, deciding to depend on Germans and Hansi Muller was just the stepping stone. Was it really wise... Inter won practically nothing during the long German reign.
Juventus - 2nd with 39 points. A bit shaky and displaying some problems, which amply presented themselves in Europe. So, not exactly losing the title in really tough battle, but simply number two this year – and 4 points distance from the champions testifies to that.
Roma – unlikely, but more than deserving champions. 16 wins, 11 ties, 3 losses, 47-24 goal-difference, 43 points. A fine reward for the good work Nils Liedholm did at the helm. Wonderfully well-balanced squad of just the right mix of current stars (Bruno Conti, Pietro Vierchowod), great foreigners (Falcao, Robert Prohaska), overlooked late bloomers (Di Bartolomei, Pruzzo), eager to prove their worth former players of other clubs (Tancredi, Turone), and bright young talent (Anchelotti, Nela). Roma was ascending for a few years already and evidently reached its peak this season. Of course, the joy was endless – so far, Roma had only one title and this was won in the very distant 1941-42 season. Outside Italy – and may be even in most of Italy – almost nobody knew that Roma won a title before. It was rare, it was fantastic, it was achieved in superior manner. However, there was already a risk at hand – both the coach and half of the regulars were getting old and without quick and strong reinforcement Roma would not last long at the top. Tricky moment, urgent moment, but how to deal with future possible trouble at the moment of glory? Should have been worked on, though – Roma was on the verge of becoming really great club. Unfortunately, the moment was missed.
re scooping the best players in the world. The same criticism was applied to Italy – and it was much more justified. There were big differences between Spain and Italy – generally, 4-5 Spanish clubs made big purchases and the rest bought mostly cheaper South American and Yugoslavian players – not even big stars, but reliable professionals. Also, the Spanish clubs often kept three foreigners, one permanently benched, for the rules permitted only two to play in a game. The Italians never saw any reason to keep on payroll three expensive imports, since only two could play. They spent money, but expected the foreigners to be outstanding, played them a lot, and never hesitated to replace them with bigger current talent – already Liam Brady was sold by Juventus to smaller club, for Platini and Boniek were coming, already Inter sold Herbert Prohaska to make room for Hansi Muller. But in Italy even small clubs were ready and willing to pay a lot for the services of world class stars, so the league was quickly saturated with big names – Krol in Napoli, Trevor Francis in Sampdoria, Falcao in Roma, Edinho and Ivica Surjak in Udinese, Dirceu and Zmuda in Verona, Schachner in Cesena, Passarela and Bertoni in Fiorentina, to name some of the greatest stars. With them, the Italian championship was rapidly becoming not only more competitive, but also more attractive and foreign players wanted to join. Especially when money was also very good. Now smaller clubs, wise enough to get top talent ahead of bigger clubs, were becoming quite even and traditional status quo was disturbed – already Milan, Lazio, and Bologna were in second division. This season brought another casualty of the new relative equality. Meantime, there were rapidly rising teams. Yet, tradition was not giving up at all – scoring continued to be low, defense ruled, and everybody was generally playing for a tie. Only three teams finished with less than 10 ties this year and at the other end was Udinese – they tied 20 out of 30 championship games! Not surprisingly just 6 clubs managed to win more than 10 matches. Seven teams less than a goal-per-game average and the highest scoring team, Juventus, achieved only 1.6 goals-per-game average. There was one hopeless outsider and one superior and almost unchalanged leader – despite the parity, there was no race for the title.
Catanzaro was last with 13 points, winning only 2 matches during the campaign. Expected outsider, though.
Cesena finished 15th with 22 points. Also expected.
Cagliari was 14th with 26 points. They were going downhill for quite some time, but still it was disturbing to see them relegated.
Ascoli, one of the prime candidates for relegation, survived - 13th with 27 points. With difficulties, but survived.
Genoa, with Belgian Vandereycken and Dutch striker Peters, also survived - 12th with 27 points.
Pisa, one more club seen as likely candidate for relegation, also escaped with the help of Swedish star Bergreen - 11th with 27 points.
Napoli, with Ruud Krol, managed 10th place with 28 points. The team was not great and even with the help of one of the best central defenders in the world they were fighting to avoid relegation than anything else.
Avellino, also with 28 points, took 9th place. Yes, they largely fought to survive, having been among the prime candidates for relegation, but all ended more than well – rarely they finished that high in the table.
Torino was starting losing ground, they finished 8th with 30 points, but there was no mistake: they missed the moment to stars rebuilding, failed to replace players when the going was fine, and may be buying the Dutch defender van der Korput was not the best idea – he was good, but not great. Not inspirational enough.
Sampdoria ended 7th with 31 points, but they were going in the opposite direction of Torino – improving, although this was still early stage of development. They placed their bet on British feet and what those were! Trevor Francis and Liam Brady.
Udinese – another team climbing up. 6th this year with 32 points, but they were not afraid to spend money on big stars – and soon to get arguably the best attacking midfielder in the world between 1975 and 1985.
Fiorentina - 5th with 34 points. Already very strong team, which evidently was going to stay strong. Yet, a team made of Antognoni, Passarella, Daniel Bertoni, Graziani, Patrico Sala, Cuccureddu should have played larger role...
Perhaps the most surprising team was Verona – they finished 4th with 35 points. Top, left to right:  Alberto Torresin, Antonio Di Gennaro, Pietro Fanna, Roberto Tricella, Luciano Spinosi, Wladyslaw Zmuda, Claudio Garella.
Middle, left to right:  Luigi Manueli, Dirceu, Mario Guidetti, Sacchetti, Emidio Oddi, Luciano Marangon.
Bottom, left to right:  Mauro Gibellini, Domenico Penzo, Guglielmi, Domenico Volpati, Adriano Fedele.
Coming out of the blue and may be just running on good luck – most players here were yet unknown (Di Gennaro, Fanna, Tricella, to name those who were national team players a few years later), and it was even felt that good foreign purchase was the reason for the unlikely success, but it will short lived, for both Polish defender Zmuda and Brazilian midfielder Dirceu were getting dangerously old. As it turned out, Verona was not even close to their biggest success.
Inter - 3rd with 38 points. There was big effort made to reinforce the team, but in the same time it was strange effort: getting Hansi Muller immediately made Herbert Prohaska redundand and he was sold. But Juary – good, but not fantastic striker, remained. Perhaps would have been better to sell Juary, keep Prohaska, and add world class striker... but apparently Inter made its mind, deciding to depend on Germans and Hansi Muller was just the stepping stone. Was it really wise... Inter won practically nothing during the long German reign.
Juventus - 2nd with 39 points. A bit shaky and displaying some problems, which amply presented themselves in Europe. So, not exactly losing the title in really tough battle, but simply number two this year – and 4 points distance from the champions testifies to that.
Roma – unlikely, but more than deserving champions. 16 wins, 11 ties, 3 losses, 47-24 goal-difference, 43 points. A fine reward for the good work Nils Liedholm did at the helm. Wonderfully well-balanced squad of just the right mix of current stars (Bruno Conti, Pietro Vierchowod), great foreigners (Falcao, Robert Prohaska), overlooked late bloomers (Di Bartolomei, Pruzzo), eager to prove their worth former players of other clubs (Tancredi, Turone), and bright young talent (Anchelotti, Nela). Roma was ascending for a few years already and evidently reached its peak this season. Of course, the joy was endless – so far, Roma had only one title and this was won in the very distant 1941-42 season. Outside Italy – and may be even in most of Italy – almost nobody knew that Roma won a title before. It was rare, it was fantastic, it was achieved in superior manner. However, there was already a risk at hand – both the coach and half of the regulars were getting old and without quick and strong reinforcement Roma would not last long at the top. Tricky moment, urgent moment, but how to deal with future possible trouble at the moment of glory? Should have been worked on, though – Roma was on the verge of becoming really great club. Unfortunately, the moment was missed.

Sunday, July 1, 2018