Page 1

June 2013

Issue 4  

Fiorentina this  season,  more  than  just  a  purple  patch?    (Page  1-­‐3)     Don’t  judge  his  Inter  reign,  Rafa  Benitez  can  succeed  with  Napoli   (Page  4-­‐7)     Promoted  to  Serie  A,  an  insight  into  the  3  teams  (Page  8-­‐11)     A  tribute  to  Walter  Mazzarri  (Page  12-­‐17)     Javier  Zanetti  -­‐  The  man,  the  footballer  (Page  19-­‐22)     Marek  Hamsik  –  La  Bandiera  di  Napoli  (Waving  the  flag  for   Napoli)  Page  23-­‐25     With  Balotelli,  Milan  can  challenge  Juventus  for    the  Scudetto   (Page  26-­‐28)    

By Jack  Beresford    

A fourth  place  finish  in  Serie  A  under  Vincenzo   Montella  was  a  step  forward  for  the  Viola  but  will  it  be   undermined  by  the  loss  of  Stevan  Jovetic?   As  the  final  whistle  blew   on  another  season  in  the   English  Premier  League,   fans  and  journalists  alike   turned  to  the  21st   century  transfer  gossip   merry-­‐go-­‐round   otherwise  known  as   Twitter  for  the  latest   rumours.  Social  media   has  emerged  as  a  driving   force  behind  much  of   today’s  football  news,  so   when  word  got  out  of  an   impending   announcement  from   Arsenal,  the  online   chatter  moved  into   overdrive.      Rather  than  focusing  the   acquisition  of  the  latest   unheard  of  youngster   from  the  lower  reaches  of   France,  the  stories   circulating  focused  on   potential  news  of  a   different  purchase:   Stevan  Jovetic.  

The Gunners  were  linked   with  a  30  million  euro   swoop  for  the  Montenegrin,   with  reports  suggesting   Chelsea  were  also   interested  in  landing  the   star  with  Jovetic’s  agent   rumoured  to  be  in  London   to  finalise  a  deal.   But  a  week  on,  and  with  no   deal  forthcoming,  the  23-­‐ year-­‐old  was  then  linked   with  a  move  to  Juventus  –   another  long-­‐term  admirer   of  the  ex-­‐Partizan  Belgrade   prodigy.      


This latest  twist  had  many  a   Viola  fan  fearing  the  worst  –   the  loss  of  a  key  player  to  that   most  hated  of  national   institutions,  the  Old  Lady  of   Turin  -­‐  in  a  move  that  was  all-­‐ too-­‐reminiscent  of  Roberto   Baggio’s  famous  exit  from   Florence  in  1990  for  the   Bianconeri.  But  while  that   move  prompted  rioting  in  and   around  Florence,  fans  of  the   Viola  would  be  wise  to  hold   off  such  uproar  given  the   current  footballing  climate   surrounding  both  the  club   and  Serie  A.            After  all,  the  club  had  just   completed  an  impressive   season  marked  by  a  return  to   the  upper  echelons  of  Serie  A   –  albeit  one  that  did  not  end   with  the  reward  of  Champions   League  football  next  term.   Indeed,  the  failure  to  land  a   place  at  Europe’s  top  table   may  one  day  be  looked  back   on  as  a  blessing  in  disguise,   with  manager  Vincenzo   Montella  evidently  keen  to   build  steadily  at  the  Artemio   Franchi.  

Early in  May,  when  asked   about  a  potential  challenge   to  AC  Milan  for  the   aforementioned   Champions  League  spot,   the  former  Roma  star   remained  focused  on  his   primary  goal.     “Let  us  consolidate  our   place  in  the   Europa  League,”  he  told   reporters.   “After  that  we’ll  then  see   about  the  rest.”    In  truth,  it  was  a  shrewd   assessment  from  the  ex-­‐ Catania  coach,  who  was   brought  in  from  the   Sicilian  side  to  steady  the   club  following  a  year  of   turmoil  under  Sinisa   Mihaljovic  and  then  Delio   Rossi  –  a  manager  who   was  sacked  after  attacking   Viola  midfielder  Adem   Ljajic.          The  Serbian  attacker   has  emerged,  as  a  key  man   under  Montella  is   testament  to  his  ability  as   a  coach  and  motivator  –   with  the  new  boss  even   bringing  the  best  out  of   veteran  striker  Luca  Toni,   who  came  to  the  club  from   the  Middle  East  and   netted  eight  times  from   the  bench.  


With the  focus  on  stability   rather  than  over-­‐extension,   Fiorentina  would  be  wise  to   look  at  the  example  set  by   fellow  non-­‐big  four  outsiders   Napoli  and  focus  on  a  Europa   League  assault  and  further   developing  a  coherent   attacking  style  of  play  before   moving  up  a  gear  in  the   seasons  to  come.            The  likelihood  is  that   Stevan  Jovetic  will  depart   Fiorentina  this  summer,  but   with  the  club  getting  a   handsome  sum  for  his   departure,  Montella  can  be   trusted  to  use  the  money   shrewdly  –  a  quality  he   demonstrated  in  spades  prior   to  this  season’s  kick-­‐off.  Aside   from  Toni,  he  has  also   recruited  Premier  League   cast-­‐offs  Alberto  Aquilani  and   Stefan  Savic  to  good  effect   while  relegated  Villarreal   were  raided  for  defender   Gonzalo  Rodriguez  and   midfielder  Borja  Valero.  

Emiliano Vivano  arrived  from   Palermo  on  loan  with  Udinese   also  lending  them  highly  rated   Colombian  full-­‐back  Juan   Cuadrado.            Bolstering  the  squad  again   this  summer  is  evidently  a   priority  with  Fiorentina  moving   to  bring  in  highly-­‐rated   Uruguayan  midfielder  Matias   Vecino  from  Nacional  and   Ukrainian  striker  Oleksandr   Yakovenko  from  Anderlecht.   This  unheard  of  pairing  are   likely  to  be  only  the  start  too,   with  former  Spain  and  Malaga   star  Joaquin  and  defender   Marcos  Alonso  heavily-­‐linked   with  moves  to  the  club  alongside   Galatasaray’s  Buruk  Yilmaz.     And  when  it  comes  to  replacing   Jovetic,  Montella  may  already  be   one  step  ahead  with  the   purchase  of  Giuseppe  Rossi   earlier  this  year.   Bought  for  ten  million  euros  the   American-­‐born  star  is  back   playing  after  suffering  an   anterior  cruciate  ligament  injury   in  La  Liga  that  kept  him  out  for   the  best  part  of  18  months.   “After  a  year  and  a  half  of   suffering  I  have  finally  come   back  to  play  a  game  with  the   team,”  he  told  Sky  Italia.  “It’s  the   end  of  a  nightmare.”  

Let’s hope  it’s  the  beginning  of   dream  partnership  with   Montella  and  the  Viola.    


By Mahmoud      


It seems  that  Rafael  Benitez   can  never  catch  a  break,  can   he?  After  making  a  name  for   himself  winning  the  Liga  twice   with  Valencia  (the  last  time  a   team  other  than  Real  Madrid   or  Barcelona  won  the  league)   as  well  as  the  UEFA  Cup.  Then   he  moved  to  Liverpool  where   he  was  given  the  thankless   task  of  trying  to  bring   Liverpool  back  into  its  glory   days  with  owners  that  refused   to  give  him  any  sort  of  serious   budget  with  which  he  can   legitimately  challenge  in  the   Premier  League,  though  he   was  still  able  to  win  the  FA   Cup,  Community  Shield,  UEFA   Super  Cup  along  with  the   Champion’s  League  in  the   most  dramatic  of  fashions  and   even  made  it  as  high  as  a   second-­‐place  finish,   Liverpool’s  highest  in  almost   20  years.  

He  then  had  the   monumental  task  of  taking  a   aging  squad  that  had  just   won  a  historic  treble  under   Real  Madrid-­‐bound  Jose   Mourinho  with  President   Moratti  refusing  to  bring  in   any  reinforcements,  and  so   could  only  must  the  Italian   Super  Cup  and  a  Club  World   Cup  before  he  was  fired  six   months  in.  And  this  season   he  was  hired  as  an  interim   manager  by  Chelsea  and   was  constantly  booed  by  a   fan  base  that  didn’t  forgive   or  forget  his  strong  ties  to   rivals  Liverpool,  despite  the   fact  that  he  won  the  Europa   League  and  was  able  to   achieve  third  place  in  the   Premier  League  after  their   disastrous  start  under  Di   Matteo.              Rafa  has  had  to   constantly  answer   accusations  of  being  too   defensive  while  a  closer   look  will  show  that  his   Liverpool  team  were  among   the  top  scorers  in  the   Premier  League,  in  fact   finishing  the  highest  in  one   year.  Along  with  this,  his   teams  always  have  had  a   strong  defence  leading   Liverpool  to  be  among  the   top  every  year  in  terms  of   least  goals  conceded.    


Now he  will  come  to  Napoli   where  he  will  be  left  to  build   on  the  success  of  Inter-­‐bound   coach  Walter  Mazzarri.  He   will  inherit  a  team  that  has  an   excellent  starting  line-­‐up   with  Hugo  Campagnaro,   Marek  Hamsik,  and  Edinson   Cavani.  His  first  task  will  be   to  convince  star  striker   Edinson  Cavani  not  to  leave   for  greener  pastures,  or  if  he   fails  to  do  this,  then  use  the   60  million-­‐plus  euros  in  his   buyout  clause  to  bring  new   faces  and  build  a  squad  with   more  depth  and  strength.   This  Napoli  team  is  not  short   of  quality,  they  did  after  all   finish  in  second  place,  win   the  Coppa  Italia  last  year  and   were  within  one  goal  from   defeating  Chelsea  and   reaching  the  quarterfinals  in   the  Champion’s  League.  

The only  question  would  be  what   tactics  and  philosophy  that   Benitez  would  use  and  whether   he  would  be  sufficiently  backed   in  the  transfer  window.  He’s  had   his  fair  share  of  flops  in  the   transfer  market,  something   critics  always  use  against  him,   but  its  actually  unfair  criticism   considering  the  results.  He   brought  in  Dirk  Kuyt  who  proved   to  be  an  admirable  worker  on  the   wing  and  a  scorer  of  important   goals,  while  it  was  he  who   brought  in  Xabi  Alonso,  Javier   Mascherano,  Lucas,  and   Fernando  Torres.            These  all  proved  to  be  inspired   purchases  and  most  were  sold   for  significant  profit,  with  the   exception  of  Kuyt.  In  fact  Benitez   allegedly  asked  Inter  to  sign   Alexis  Sanchez  on  the  cheap,  one   year  before  he  was  sold  for  more   than  30  million  to  Barcelona.  


He also  got  it  tactically  wrong  at  Inter,  but  some  blame  can  be  laid   at  the  feet  of  the  players  who  were  disinterested  in  fighting  for  the   coach  after  the  loss  of  Jose  Mourinho.  He  attempted  to  turn  the   team  from  a  counterattacking  one  into  one  that  held  possession.   These  all  backfired  on  him  later  and  he  will  be  getting  a  Napoli  team   that  is  also  similarly  built  on  a  counterattack.  The  most  significant   change  that  is  most  likely  to  be  brought  with  Benitez  is  the  move   away  from  the  three-­‐man  defence  that  Mazzarri  was  famous  for.     Benitez  wanted  a  project,  and  in  Napoli  he  certainly  has  a  project   that  already  possesses  many  key  pieces  and  requires  only  some   tinkering  and  that  coach  to  bring  them  to  that  next  level.  So  long  as   the  team  and  the  owner  back  him,  Benitez  can  be  that  man.    


This past  season  it  was  Sampdoria,  Pescara,  and  Torino.    Sampdoria   and  Torino  succeeded  in  sustaining  top  flight  Italian  football.    Sadly   enough  for  Pescara,  they  will  return  to  Serie  B,  and  reload  for   another  run  at  the  top.    This  year,  there  are  three  new  challengers  for   a  lasting  spot  in  the  Serie  A;  Sassuolo,  Hellas  Verona,  and  Livorno,   have  bested  the  rest  of  the  second  division  and  are  ready  for  a  shot  to   prove  they  have  what  it  takes  to  remain  in  the  Serie  A.    Question  is,   who  are  these  teams?    Where  are  they  from?    And  finally,  do  they   have  what  it  takes  to  keep  their  place?    

U.S. Sassuolo  Calcio     Founded:  1922   Colours:  Black  and  Green   Located:  Province  of  Modena  in  the   Emilia-­‐Romagna  Region  (Location  of   Parma,  Bologna,  Cesena,  and   Modena)   Stadium:  Modena's  Stadio  Alberto   Braglia   Scudetti:  0   Owner:  Giorgio  Squinzi   Coach:  Eusebio  Di  Francesco   Top  Players:  Domenico  Berardi,   Richmond  Bokaye,  Yussif  Chibsah  


Hailing from  the  Emilia-­‐Romagna  region,  Sassuolo  Calcio  has  a  long   history  of  floundering  in  the  lower  leagues  of  Calcio,  however  a   breakout  season  has  seen  them  top  Serie  B  and  earn  them  their   first  ever  promotion  to  the  Serie  A  in  squad  history.  They  did  so   playing  an  exciting  brand  of  attacking  football,  very  much  in  vogue   throughout  the  peninsula.  While  this  does  not  guarantee  success  in   the  top  flight,  there  are  signs  that  certainly  point  towards  at  least   maintaining  their  spot.    Unlike  Pescara  last  year,  Sassuolo  look  set   to  keep  the  core  of  the  squad  together.    Berardi,  joint  leading  scorer   with  11  goals,  will  either  remain  a  Sassuolo  player,  or  stay  on  for  at   least  one  more  year  if  he  is  sold.    Meanwhile,  Juventus  and  Genoa   have  already  entered  negotiations  to  renew  their  co-­‐ownership  of   Boakye  (also  11  goals)  which  would  see  him  stay  at  the  club  for  at   least  another  season.                  Ultimately,  I  see  this  side  finishing  somewhere  between  the  16th   and  19th  spots.  While  they  were  a  force  to  be  reckoned  with  in  the   first  half  of  the  season,  they  dwindled  in  the  second  half  and   captured  the  league  largely  in  thanks  to  their  massive  lead.   Depending  on  which  side  shows  up,  and  how  quickly  they  adapt,   they  could  perform  like  Torino  of  this  past  season,  or  plummet  like   Pescara.        

Hellas Verona       Founded:  1903   Colours:  Yellow  and  Blue   Located:  Province  of  Verona  in   the  Veneto  Region  (Home  to   Chievo  Verona,  Vicenza  Calcio,   Calcio  Padova,  and  Treviso)   Stadium:  Stadio  Marc'  Antonio   Bentegodi     Scudetti:  1   President:  Maurizio  Setti     Coach:  Andrea  Mandorlini   Top  Players:  Daniele  Cacia,   Jorginho,  Domenico  Maietta  


Verona, one  of  the  bigger  clubs  which  spent  this  past  year  in  the   Serie  B  has  earned  a  long  awaited  return  to  the  Serie  A  following   their  relegation  in  2002.    They,  alongside  Sassuolo,  did  so  with  ease   finishing  on  82  points.  However,  unlike  Sassuolo,  this  is  a  club  with   a  history  of  Serie  A  success,  and  should  have  a  much  larger  fan  base   behind  them  (playing  in  a  bigger  stadio  will  undoubtedly  help  as   well).    Ever  since  signing  Mandorlini  on  as  coach,  the  team  has  been   on  the  up  and  up,  going  from  Serie  C  (now  Serie  Lega  Pro)  in  2010-­‐ 2011  to  Serie  A  promotion  by  the  end  of  the  2012-­‐2013  season.     Another  bonus  could  be  the  possible  addition  of  one  Luca  Toni,  who   has  been  heard  to  say  that  he  would  be  open  to  signing  for  the  team   seeing  how  his  time  in  Florence  has  come  to  a  close.    While  Toni  is   old,  he  would  add  much  desired  top  flight  experience,  and  be  an   excellent  tutor  to  younger  players,  namely  Serie  B  Capocannoniere   Daniele  Cacia.    If  they  can  hold  onto  Cacia,  as  well  as  young  midfield   sensation  Jorginho  who  has  been  linked  with  Milan,  they  will  at  the   least  have  a  good  competitive  core.  As  with  all  things  it  is  far  too   early  to  tell;  however,  be  that  as  it  may,  don't  be  surprised  to  see   Hellas  Verona  experience  moderate  success  and  finish  outside  the   relegation  zone.    

AS Livorno  Calcio     Founded:  1915   Colours:  Dark  Red  or  Maroon  and   White   Located:  Province  of  Livorno  in  the   Region  of  Toscana  (Tuscany)   Stadium:  Stadio  Armando  Picchi   Scudetti:  0   Chairman:  Aldo  Spinelli     Coach:  Davide  Nicola   Top  Players:  Paulinho,  Federico   Dionisi,  Luca  Belingheri  


Founded in  1915,  Livorno  are  another  squad  who  have  spent  much   time  in  the  lower  levels  of  calcio,  and  because  of  this  have  no   scudetti  to  their  name.    A  short  stint  in  Serie  A  during  the  mid-­‐ 2000s  would  not  change  this,  and  they  would  find  themselves   quickly  back  down  in  Serie  B.    After  finishing  3rd  this  past  year,  and   much  closer  to  the  top  2  sides  than  the  those  in  the  4-­‐6  positions,   Livorno  were  sad  to  see  they  had  to  go  through  the  promotion   playoffs.    After  dispatching  Novara,  they  had  the  tough  task  of   beating  Empoli  who  had  been  playing  very  well  of  late.    This   however  posed  no  problem  for  the  Tuscan  club  as  they  won  2-­‐1  on   aggregate  earning  the  final  top  flight  spot  they  had  battled  for.         The  team  did  not  lack  for  goals,  as  forward  Paulinho  led  the   side  with  20,  but  recieved  help  from  Dionisi,  Belingheri,  and   Siligardi  who  all  contributed  14.    Belingheri  also  proved  to  be  the   creative  force  in  midfield  that  powered  the  forward  line  of   Paulinho,  Dionisi,  and  Siligardi.    The  thing  that  may  hurt  this  team   however,  is  the  number  of  starters  that  were  loaned  players  from   other  clubs,  and  the  fact  that  Paulinho  has  been  consistently  linked   with  a  move  away  from  the  club.    Again,  while  everything  is  still  up   for  grabs  next  season,  do  not  be  surprised  to  see  Livorno's  glory   short  lived.      

By Anthony  Cooper  


By Richard  Postin  


As the  Serie  A  manager  merry-­‐go-­‐round  kicks  into  action,  one  of  the   more  successful  managers  Walter  Mazzarri  has  called  time  on  his   spell  in  charge  of  Napoli.    He  leaves  the  club  in  a  strong  position.     They  have  the  strongest  attack  in  the  land  and  have  proven  to  be   the  only  consistent  challengers  to  Antonio  Conte’s  Juventus  over  the   past  two  years,  indeed  overcoming  them  to  lift  the  Coppa  Italia  last   year.              Following  on  from  his  success  at  Reggina  and  Sampdoria,   Mazzarri  was  appointed  Napoli  manager  in  2009  in  what  was  to  be   his  biggest  challenge  to  date.    Indeed  managing  the  expectations  of   the  notoriously  passionate  Partenopei  fans  can  be  a  daunting  task  in   itself!    Mazzarri  inherited  a  mid-­‐table  side  that  were  still  settling   into  Serie  A  following  their  return  from  the  lower  divisions.     Mazarri  transformed  the  clubs  fortunes  with  immediate  effect,   leading  them  to  a  sixth  place  finish  and  qualification  for  Europe  in   the  process.    

Although he  inherited  a  side  which  already  had  the  talents  of   Marek  Hamsik  and  Ezequiel  Lavezzi,  it  was  the  addition  of   Edinson  Cavani  in  his  second  year  in  charge  which  really  pushed   Napoli  forwards.    Although  Cavani  had  done  well  at  Palermo  it   was  only  at  Napoli,  where  Mazzarri  had  both  the  faith  and   judgement  to  play  him  centrally,  that  he  became  one  of  the   world’s  most  feared  forwards.      


By playing  Cavani  centrally  alongside  Lavezzi  and  Hamisk,  Mazzarri   harnessed  the  talents  of  all  three  as  they  combined  superbly  to   become  one  of  the  most  successful  trios  in  modern  football  and  a   threat  to  any  defence.                The  on-­‐field  relationship  of  this  triumvirate  was  second  to  none,   as  time  and  time  again  they  would  break  from  defence  with   breathtaking  speed,  quick  incisive  passing  and,  in  the  form  of   Cavani,  deadly  accuracy  in  front  of  goal.    Mazzarri  deserves  much   credit  as  not  only  did  he  provide  the  right  settings  for  this  attacking   football  to  flow  but  he  also  got  the  most  out  of  these  players   defensively  too.    Indeed  it  is  hard  to  imagine  an  attacking  trio  of   talents  who  have  worked  so  hard  for  the  cause!      

Mazzarri’s reign  saw  consistent  progress  as  the  league  position   improved  year  on  year  bar  one,  when  they  tasted  Champions  League   football.    And  to  bring  Champions  League  football  to  Napoli  for  the   first  time  since  their  rebirth  and  just  five  years  after  their  spell  in   Serie  C  was  a  stunning  achievement  and  something  all  Neapolitans   took  to  their  hearts!    The  players  likewise  as  they  put  in   performances  of  the  highest  quality  against  the  best  in  Europe.  


This culminated  with  the  decisive  victory  over  multi-­‐billionaires   Manchester  City  to  all  but  seal  qualification  from  the  group  stage.     They  put  in  another  incredible  performance  to  defeat  Chelsea  at  the   Stadio  San  Paolo  (accordingly  nicknamed  ‘Dante’s  inferno  with  an   athletics  track’  by  the  English  press)  before  bowing  out  to  the   eventual  champions.      

Mazzarri leaves  a  side  which  will  once  again  face  Champions  League   football,  but  arguably  his  finest  achievement  was  in  returning   silverware  to  the  club’s  cabinet.    Under  Mazzarri’s  stewardship   Napoli  lifted  the  Coppa  Italia  for  just  the  fourth  time  in  their  history,   and  brought  silverware  back  to  the  city  for  the  first  time  since  the   days  of  their  God:  Diego  Maradona.                      Inconsistent  performances  against  the  best  sides  in  the  league   are  the  one  black  spot  against  Mazzarri  and  were  the  reason  Napoli   failed  to  push  Juventus  to  the  wire  this  past  season.    Yet  further   marking  this  cup  final  success  out,  was  that  the  fact  that  it  came   against  bitter  rivals  Juventus.    The  Bianconeri  had  gone  the  season   undefeated  but  were  finally  put  to  the  sword  by  a  Napoli  side  rising   to  the  occasion  to  send  their  supporters  into  delirium  and  confirm   Mazzarri’s  reign  as  a  success!  


This cup  victory  turned  out  to  be  the  final  match  in  Lavezzi’s  Napoli   career  prompting  the  break-­‐up  of  the  famous  triumvirate,  and  giving   Mazzarri  a  new  dilemma.    The  natural  replacement  for  Lavezzi,   Goran  Pandev,  struggled  to  fill  the  gap  on  a  consistent  basis  so   Mazzarri  gave  youth  a  chance  in  the  form  of  Neapolitan  youth   product  Lorenzo  Insigne  who  has  since  became  an  important  part  of   the  team.    Indeed,  in  the  absence  of  Lavezzi,  Mazzarri  arguably   created  a  more  rounded  team  capable  of  producing  goals  from  all   over  the  pitch.    Whereas  in  the  2011-­‐12  season  just  four  players   went  over  the  4  goal  mark  (the  famous  triumvirate  plus  Pandev),  a   total  of  seven  players  topped  this  haul  this  season.                          Another  player  to  benefit  from  this  departure  was  Marek   Hamsik.    Mazzarri  shuffled  his  position  closer  to  the  attack  where  he   could  have  a  greater  influence  in  the  attacking  third  and,  with  the   increase  of  threats  coming  from  all  over  pitch,  Hamsik’s  vision  and   passing  ability  was  maximised  as  he  became  the  highest  assist   provider  in  the  league.    Here  Mazzarri  demonstrated  his  tactical  nous   to  overcome  the  loss  of  such  a  key  player  in  Lavezzi,  and  the  new   Napoli  manager  will  need  to  show  the  same  adaptability  if,  as  the   speculation  suggests,  Cavani  also  leaves.    

It also  seems  that  Mazzarri’s  tactical  legacy  will  be  continued  in  Serie  A   in  the  form  of  the  3-­‐5-­‐2  system  which  he  has  helped  bring  back  to   prominence.    He  has  controversially  stated  that  Antonio  Conte’s  two   Scudetti  as  Juventus  manager  have  only  come  about  due  to  the   adoption  of  his  formation.    Of  course  it  is  undeniable  that  a  major   factor  behind  Conte’s  thinking  was  to  accommodate  space  for  Andrea   Pirlo  in  a  3  man  midfield.    Yet  it  also  without  question  that  Napoli’s  3-­‐ 5-­‐2  formation  caused  all  sorts  of  problems  for  Juventus,  and  it  was   only  by  copying  this  shape  themselves  that  Juventus  were  able  to  stifle   Napoli.    This  success  promptly  resulted  in  them  adopting  this  tactic   permanently,  which  has  consequently  led  to  Conte’s  two  Scudetti.    This   gives  some  credence  to  Mazzarri’s  statement  and  certainly  to  his   tactical  ability.    

Many will  question  Mazzarri’s  motives  for  moving  on  at  this  stage  but   upon  leaving  he  outlined  his  belief,  based  on  Fabio  Capello’s  assertion,   that  it  is  not  possible  to  last  more  than  four  or  five  years  as  a  coach  at   an  Italian  club.    And  certainly  when  you  look  at  the  recent  history  of   Calcio  this  would  seem  to  be  the  case.    The  most  successful  managerial   reigns  have  not  lasted  more  than  five  years,  with  the  likes  of  Arrigo   Sacchi,  Fabio  Capello,  Roberto  Mancini  and  Cesare  Prandelli  all  leaving   their  respective  posts  after  such  a  period.    Even  Marcello  Lippi  who   seemed  to  symbolize  Juventus  in  the  late  90’s  and  early  2000’s  did  not   stay  at  the  club  for  longer  than  five  years  at  any  one  time,  as  his  time   there  was  split  into  two  periods.    Only  Carlo  Ancelotti  as  Milan   manager  has  outlasted  the  five  year  cycle  as  he  almost  became  a   permanent  feature  of  an  Italian  managerial  bench,  lasting  a  mighty   eight  years.                      However  this  too  can  be  considered  an  anomaly,  as  his  reign  was   built  on  his  reputation  for  bringing  success  in  European  competition.     Carlo  also  had  the  added  bonus  of  being  one  of  the  most  popular  and   patient  men  in  football,  something  which  helps  when  you  have  Silvio   Berlusconi  as  a  boss!    Nonetheless  one  Scudetto  in  eight  years  is   probably  not  the  success  rate  you  would  expect  from  Milan   domestically,  and  you  could  not  imagine  Massimiliano  Allegri  being   afforded  the  same  time.    Mazzarri  has  thus  followed  this  Italian  trend,   believing  that  he  would  no  longer  have  been  able  to  inspire  the  same   levels  of  motivation  in  his  players.    Many  will  query  this  line  of  thought   but  what  cannot  be  in  doubt,  however,  is  that  Mazzarri’s  four  year  spell   was  a  resounding  triumph.    His  new  club  Inter  will  thus  have  high   hopes,  whilst  he  also  leaves  some  pretty  big  shoes  to  fill  at  Napoli.   17  

Javier Zanetti

– A tribute to the man, the footballer When Javier Zanetti was carried off in Sicily just 14 minutes into his 1101th game not many, if any would have given a chance to the 39 year old of making a comeback from a ruptured Achilles tendon. However, such is the will of the man and the love for the game that he wants to come back even stronger and play on for another year, at least.

Not many would have predicted the success that Zanetti has had when aged just 15 he was rejected by Independiente, for being too small to make it as a professional footballer. However he did and that too after spending his days delivering milk and laying bricks with his father and playing in shoes that his father had sewed for him.


Once he had found his first professional it was only going to matter of time before he made his mark in Argentina, as well as on the world stage. It only took him a year to progress from the second division to the first division. One instinctively knew that much better things lay ahead of him. In his 20+ years playing for Talleres, Banfield and Internazionale not only has he done great, he has been an epitome for every professional in all respects. Zanetti holds the record for the highest number of appearances for a Nerazzurri player after overtaking former club captain Giuseppe Bergomi and is only second only to Paolo Maldini terms of all time appearances in Serie A. Although primarily a right back Zanetti has played as a played at left back, center back, central midfield, central defensive midfield, left wing and right wing for the Milanese club and never has he shirked any responsibilities. This shows that the man has not only been on top of his game but has been tenacious and determined enough to do well wherever he has been deployed. Â

20 Â

A lot of things have changed at the Biscione over the last 18 years including the 18 managers that have come and gone but one thing has remained the same if not gotten better than before; ever since the Club president made Zanetti his first ever signing at Inter Milan, he has been a rock for the La Beneamata in good and some turbulent times. He has played in more than 90% (845 out of 938) of the games that the club has been involved in. In fact from October 2006 to April 2010 he made 137 consecutive appearances for the club and there has not been a season in which Zanetti has played less than 34 games. As a player for Internazionale he as won everything as part of his 16 trophies at Inter (which includes the complete set of UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, Coppa Italia, Italian Super Cup and the Serie A titles). 15 out of 16 trophies that Zanetti has won have come under his captaincy which he took over in 1999; he is the only non-Italian to be the captain of a Serie A Side. The reasons behind his success are simple, i.e. training as hard as possible and practicing every day of the week with same intensity and purpose, prime example of his dedication is when he turned up for Argentina's training camp for international duty on the morning of his wedding!

Another testament to Zanetti’s abilities is his inclusion in Pelé’s ‘FIFA 100’ list of the game’s greatest living footballers.


Away from the football pitch Zanetti is a thorough family man and a devoted catholic. He along with his contemporaries is a FIFA ambassador and focuses on a venture called SOS Children’s Villages in Argentina. Zanetti along with his wife Paula have created Fundacion PUPI to help malnourished children by taking care of their food needs; providing educational opportunities and along with his team mate Esteban Cambiasso has started a charity called Leoni di Potrero, to assist young children with mental disabilities and social isolation problems. Mark of a person who is giving back to the society from which he has gotten so much love and adulation. One will struggle to find a person who has anything bad to say about Javier Zanetti or criticize him for his actions on or off the pitch. That is the kind of fine example that he has set for all the budding footballers and indeed human beings. If it is to be the end of a glittering career than I will be the first to admit that these have been 3 marvelous decades watching Zanetti. Being a fan first I hope that “El Tractor”, makes a full recovery and does a few more miles.

By Himanshu.D    


By Richard  Postin  

Marek Hamsik  is  coming  off  his  best  ever  season  at  Napoli  as  he   asserts  himself  as  one  of,  if  not  the,  best  midfielders  in  the  league.     Certainly  if  we  take  assists  into  account  he  comes  out  on  top.    At  the   same  time  he  has  also  maintained  his  formidable  goal  scoring   pedigree  which  sees  him  stand  out  as  the  only  midfielder  in  Serie  A   to  have  entered  double  figures  six  years  running.   Many  questions  were   being  asked  at  the  start   of  the  season  regarding   how  Napoli  would   overcome  the  loss  of   Ezequiel  Lavezzi,  who   along  with  Hamsik  and   Edinson  Cavani,  was  one   of  the  ‘three  tenors’  who   had  tormented  Italian   defences  over  recent   years.    Napoli  altered   their  style  of  play  slightly   whilst  others  came  in  to   the  side  to  take  on  a   greater  role,  none  more   so  than  Hamsik.        

Despite his  decisiveness  in  previous  seasons  he  was  often  on  the   periphery  of  play,  whereas  this  season  he  has  become  much  more  of   a  focal  point.    He  has  still  maintained  his  impressive  goal  scoring   record  but  is  now  in  a  position  to  create  more  opportunities,  from   which  numerous  teammates  have  benefited  this  season.  


Becoming such  a  focal  point  has  also  had  a  hugely  positive  influence   on  him  and  he  has  taken  this  responsibility  on  his  shoulders  to  lead   by  example.    Indeed,  when  Paolo  Cannavaro  has  been  absent,  he  has   more  than  stepped  up  to  the  role  of  captain.    He  is  a  man  who   understands  the  passion  of  Neapolitan  life  and  is  completely  devoted   to  the  Azzurri  shirt.    In  contrast  to  the  highly  sought  after  Lavezzi   (who  has  departed)  and  Cavani  (who  looks  set  to  depart)  there  has   been  little  speculation  regarding  his  long  term  future.    This  owes   absolutely  nothing  to  a  lack  of  talent,  but  is  due  to  the  fact  that   Hamsik  sees  himself  remaining  at  Napoli  for  the  rest  of  his  career.                                        Even  his  agent  Mino  Raiola  has  indicated  that  he  will  be  there  for   life.    And  this  coming  from  Super  Agent  Raiola  is  significant  in  itself,   because  here  is  a  man  who  specialises  in  moving  his  clients  on  as   often  as  possible.    But  he  too  has  had  to  accept  that  this  will  not  be   the  case  with  Hamsik,  who  wishes  to  create  a  legacy  at  the  club.    


Of course  there  is  no  doubting  that  Cavani  too,  a  world  class  forward   in  his  own  right,  is  a  vital  player  for  Napoli.    And  in  many  respects,   especially  considering  Napoli’s  finances,  he  is  irreplaceable.    Yet  I   cannot  help  but  feel  that  Hamsik,  who  has  truly  embedded  himself   into  the  team’s  style,  would  be  harder  to  replace.    Indeed  there  are   not  many  goal  scoring  midfielders  who  are  also  capable  of   contributing  10+  assists  every  year.    Again  it  should  be  noted  that   replacing  Cavani’s  29  goals  would  be  no  easy  challenge,  but  if  they   could  find  a  forward  who  could  tuck  away  penalties  that  would  be  no   bad  place  to  start  (Cavani  missed  a  total  of  5  penalties  this  season).     We  are  in  for  an  interesting  summer  of  speculation,  wild  rumours   and  last  minute  transfers,  but  one  thing  we  can  be  sure  of  is  that   come  the  start  of  the  new  season  Marek  Hamsik  will  be  dressed  in   the  famous  blue  of  Napoli.    And  he  will  once  again  being  leading  from   the  front  in  search  of  a  first  Scudetto,  as  he  establishes  himself  as  a   true  symbol  of  this  new  Napoli.      


With Balotelli, Milan can challenge Juventus in Serie A Such has  been  Juventus’s   domination  of  Serie  A  since  the   hiring  of  former  captain  Antonio   Conte  that  it  was  hard  to  remember   that  it  was  only  two  years  ago  that   Juventus  had  done  back-­‐to-­‐back  7th   place  finishes  in  the  table  along  with   a  long  list  of  expensive  flops  such  as   Diego  and  Amauri.  In  fact  last  year,   Milan  had  stormed  to  the  Serie  A   title  so  emphatically  on  the  back  of   Zlatan  Ibrahimovic  that  most   predicted  that  they  would  do  so   again  the  following  year,  but  were   bested  by  an  unbeaten  Juventus,   although  they  did  hold  a  four  point   margin  over  the  Turin  side  with  just   a  few  games  left  to  go.    

Then last  summer  Milan  sold  top  scorer  Zlatan  Ibrahimovic  and,   more  significantly,  the  world’s  best  defender  in  Thiago  Silva  in  a   double  transfer  to  Paris  Saint-­‐Germain.  Pundits  from  all  over  felt  that   such  a  loss  would  mean  that  Milan  would  no  longer  challenge  for   honors  and  it  appeared  in  the  beginning  that  this  was  true  as  they   were  unable  to  win  six  of  their  first  eight  matches  in  Serie  A.     However  the  astronomical  rise  and  maturation  of  Stephan  El   Shaarawy,  who  scored  several  game-­‐winning  goals  and  appeared  to   carry  Milan  on  his  young  shoulders,  brought  Milan  back  up  the  table   as  they  became  on  of  Serie  A’s  in-­‐form  teams,  although  their   disastrous  start  meant  they  were  never  truly  able  to  challenge  for  the   title.  


The in  January  Milan  moved  on  homesick  Manchester  City  striker   Mario  Balotelli  who  starred  for  Italy  in  the  Euros,  including  a  match-­‐ winning  performance  against  Germany  in  the  semi-­‐finals.  Against   Udinese,  Balotelli  was  a  last-­‐minute  introduction  to  the  starting  line-­‐ up  since  he  was  not  match  fit  just  yet,  but  he  scored  two  goals  to  give   them  a  2-­‐1  win.  He  the  proceeded  to  score  11  goals  in  his  next  11   games  and  ended  the  season  with  12  goals  in  13  appearances  with   Milan  achieving  third  place,  and  Champion’s  League  qualification,  on   the  last  day  of  the  season.     And  although  Juventus  seemed  to  have  won  Serie  A  easily  once   again,  a  closer  look  at  the  last  two  years  will  tell  you  that  their   domination  was  merely  a  perception  given  their  unbeaten  campaign   last  year  and  lofty  status  as  Italy’s  historically  most  successful  side.   Let  us  not  forget  that  in  the  2011-­‐12  Serie  A  campaign,  that  Juventus   experienced  dreadful  finishing  abilities  with  a  seemingly  endless  run   of  draws  allowing  Milan  to  take  the  lead  by  as  much  as  four  point   with  a  few  rounds  left,  before  Juventus  were  able  to  somehow  win  it   in  the  end.    


Then they  barely  reinforced  their  striker  department  last  summer   and  suffered  for  it  as  they  lost  to  Inter  and  twice  to  Sampdoria.   Actually  early  on  in  the  year  it  appeared  that  Inter  or  Lazio  would   challenge,  only  for  Inter  to  come  crashing  down  to  earth  after  that   historic  win,  while  Lazio’s  small  team  was  stretched  with  obligations   in  Europe.  With  their  second  title  in  a  row  there  is  talk  of  a  dynasty,   but  such  dreams  will  not  be  so  easily  achievable.     With  Balotelli  spearheading  a  dynamic  young  strikeforce  that   has  El  Shaarawy  and  M’Baye  Niang,  and  his  excellent  finishing  ability,   Milan  will  just  need  to  work  on  enforcing  a  defense  that  has  not  fully   recovered  from  the  loss  of  Thiago  Silva  so  that  they  will  be  able  to   challenge  for  honors  in  Europe  as  well.  It  should  not  be  forgotten   that  Milan  almost  defeated  Barcelona  over  two  legs,  but  were   criminally  exposed  in  the  away  tie.  However  with  a  stronger  defense   to  and  the  strong,  young  shoulders  of  Balotelli  leading  the  way,   Juventus  may  have  already  lived  their  glory  days  and  will  seriously   need  to  step  up  their  game  to  win  again.  

By Mahmoud  Ghellai  

Tutto Serie A Magazine  

Issue 4

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you