Posts Tagged ‘Buffon’

Spain vs Italy: Euro 2012 final

Two of these teams met in Group C on June 10th, where they played out a fairly entertaining 1-1 draw. Now though both Italy and Spain will be hungrier, knowing that either of them could be crowned champions of Europe in just a few hours time.

A lot of football fans doubted Italy’s ability to make it out of their group, never mind go all the way to the final. When the Italians met Germany in the semi’s, it looked like it could be the end of the road for the Azzuri but a vintage display by Pirlo and a Balotelli brace proved to be enough with Italy winning 2-1. Cesare Prandelli has got his tactics pretty much perfect for every game so far, including the opening fixture vs Spain in the Group. They have not trailed for a single minute at the tournament so far. Italy are the only team to put the ball in the Spanish goal so far at this Summers finals and will be confident they can do it again.

It doesn’t come as much as a surprise to people that Spain have made it to the final. However, they haven’t done it with the same style and class that they won the previous World Cup and European Championships with and have received criticism from certain parts of the footballing community for not playing with a true striker in some of their games, the first of which was Italy. The Spaniard eased past Group C, topping the group unbeaten. They then bet France with ease and proceeded to the semi’s where they met Portugal, which Spain won on penalties. If they do in fact win the Euro’s then there is no arguing that this Spanish team is one of, if not the greatest international side of all time.

Key Battles 

Andrea Pirlo vs Xavi

Possibly the two best passers of the ball in world football so it’s obvious to see why these men will be influential for both their sides. Andrea Pirlo has carried his Scudetto winning form to Euro 2012 and has been Italy and arguably the tournaments greatest player, picking up three man of the match awards out of Italy’s five games so far. Xavi was one of Spain’s key players in 2008 & 2010 when they lifted silverware. Nothing has changed. He is still pulling the strings in the middle of the park for ‘La Rojas’, completing 465 successful passes so far in this tournament. Xavi can tend to go under the radar during the match which is one of the reasons why he is such a threat. Give either of these players an inch and they will make you pay with a pinpoint pass that could have a huge say on who’s set of supporters will be celebrating come the end of the night.

Gianluigi Buffon vs Iker Casillas 

“[Gianluigi] Buffon and [Iker] Casillas? That face-off will be crucial”, they are the words of legendary Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff. He could prove to be correct. Goalkeepers are one of the key players for most teams out there but there are very few teams in the world that can claim to have goalkeepers as solid and consistent as Buffon and/or Casillas. They both captain their sides and both have made well over 100 caps for their country. I expect this game to be a very tight one so both keepers will have to be at their best if either of them is to lift the trophy at the end of the night.

Now mere moments away from kick-off, who will be come champions of Europe?

Will it be Del Bosque’s Spain or Prandelli’s Italy?

The Bianconeri rise again.

Juventus lifted the Scudetto for the 28th time in their history this season. A season in which they went unbeaten.

Who would of predicted this six years ago?

Match fixing Scandal

In 2006 Juventus were one of the five clubs who were linked with the Italian match fixing scandal. They were stripped of the two titles they won under Fabio Capello and demoted to the Serie B for the first time in the clubs history. As expected some key players left, including Lillian Thuram and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. However others showed their loyalty and agreed to remain with Juve despite playing in the second tier of Italian football. The main players being Buffon, Nedved, Trezeguet and Del Piero. Juventus went straight back up after winning the Serie B, only losing four times in 42 games.

Rebuilding

The following season Claudio Ranieri took over the “Old Lady”, guiding them to a very respectable third place finish.  It also meant they had qualified for the following seasons Champions League.

2008-09 season was going to be a test for Ranieri’ men as they now had high expectations on their shoulders. The Summer transfer window saw them bring in eight players to strengthen the squad. Amauri being the “big” signing, coming from Palermo for €22.6 million. Juventus looked like genuine title contenders at various stages of the season and to boost the confidence of the fans they topped their Champions League group which contained Real Madrid. They were later knocked out by Chelsea in the last 16. However the players were struggling to remain motivated at certain times throughout the season as Ranieri belittled their title chances. The team went seven consecutive league games without a win. Despite this they finished second, a total of 10 points behind Champions Inter. Ranieri was sacked for failing to win a trophy.

With new coach Ciro Ferrara spending over €50 million on transfers, people imagined that the team could make the push and once again become champions of Italy. This was not the case as the 09-10 season proved to be disastrous for the Bianconeri. They failed to qualify from their Champions League group. Following the loss to Inter in the Coppa Italia, Ciro Ferrara was sacked as manager. The day later Alberto Zaccheroni was made head coach. Zaccheroni made a pretty decent start, knocking Ajax out of the Europa League followed up by a 3-1 win over Fulham. However Juventus were bet 4-1 in the second leg thus knocking them out, a poor run of form followed. Juve finished 7th in the Serie A.

Juventus started the following season with a new president, Andrea Agnelli and a new manager, Luigi Delneri. Despite the change Juventus once again had a poor season, finishing 7th for the second consecutive season and once again another year without a trophy. The crowds were plummeting, failing to sell out the 28,000 seater Stadio Olimpico once. Agnelli knew something had to change.

Resurrection 

There was a lot of change, the main one being the change of Stadium. Juventus became the only team in the Serie A to fully own their own stadium. Former Juventus midfielder Antonio Conte was made manager. The fans became optimistic and Juventus stadium was frequently sold out. Andrea Agnelli pumped money into the club and Conte gladly spent it, bringing in no more than twenty new faces for a total of €94.5 million. They knew they had to challenge Ac Milan for the title, a title that the Rossoneri were not going to give up easily. Juvetus won six of their first ten games, beating Inter and Ac Milan in the process. Despite the good form some criticised them for drawing too many games, something that might just cost them the title. Between the 5th of Febuary and the 11th of March Juve drew six of their seven Serie A games. However this was followed by an impressive run of form that saw the Bianconeri gather up nine wins on the trot. Despite Milan throwing away their lead earlier in the season, they still remained closely behind. Juve slipped up slightly following a 1-1 draw with Lecce, which allowed the Rossoneri back into the title race. It all came down to match-day 37. Ac Milan had to beat rivals Inter to keep their title hopes alive. A breathtaking Milan derby ended with the Rossoneri losing 4-2. Juventus win away to Cagliari meant they became champions of Italy for the first time since 2003. The win on the last day of the season ensured that Conte’s men went the entire Serie A season unbeaten, becoming one of only three teams to do so (Perugia in 78/79 and Ac Milan in 91/92).

Del Piero lifts the Scudetto in his final season as a Juve player.

Juventus have the chance to do a domestic double when they play Napoli in the Coppa Italia final on Sunday.

They will be hoping to defend their Scudetto next season and continue their unbeaten run. They will also be expected to do well in next seasons Champions League and could well prove to be dark horses.

Does this Juventus side have what it takes to become one of the best sides in the world?