Belgian have been one of the most surprising packages

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Belgian have been one of the most surprising packages in the last few years when it comes to national teams.

They were little known among the European giants, but they have been named as the second-best team in the world in the latest FIFA rankings. Such has been their rise in world football that many of starting them to see is the realistic contenders for the Euro 2016 alongside Germany. This is the view of Italy manager Antonio Conte, who is himself under great pressure to get results with Italy in Euro 2016. Belgium will be in a group containing the likes of Sweden and Republic of Ireland.

However, the biggest opponent in the group will undoubtedly be Italy. After having failed to even get past the group stages of the World Cup 2014, there is a lot of pressure on the shoulders of the Italian players. The team reached the final of the previous European Championship. Hence, they will be at least expected to match or go beyond this stage for the 2016 edition. Sweden will also have a lot to prove since this is expected to be the last major tournament for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker is regarded as the linchpin of everything good done by the Swedish. Continue reading

Antonio Conte has been able to stabilise the Italian national team

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After starting out in disappointing fashion, manager Antonio Conte has been able to stabilise the Italian national team.

The team has managed six wins in the last nine games and will be targeting a seventh win against Norway in the Euro 2016 qualifying match. A victory from this match will surely guarantee a place in the Euro 2016 competition as the winners of the group. Such a position will surely provide Conte with some much needed time to look at other players. For the time being, the game against Norway is on his mind. The former Juventus manager believes that Norway will not be providing any favours for the 2006 world champions.

Only a few qualifiers ago, Italy looked in danger of missing out on the top spot since Croatia were leading for much of the qualification campaign. However, they have come to form at just the right stage to seal the win. Norway cannot be taken for granted since they are on a high after winning the last three games. Høgmo’s team usually do not play for a draw and this fact is aptly demonstrated by Norway’s sole draw in the qualification campaign. As far as the competition itself is concerned, Conte claimed that Italy will no longer be considered as pretournament favourites due to recent showings. Continue reading

Juventus finally managed to end the drought in terms of victories

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Juventus finally managed to end the drought in terms of victories by claiming a 2-0 win over Genova during the weekend.

This finally brought an end to the disastrous form that saw them take only one point from the opening three games. Inter had already taken advantage of these slipups by winning four out of the four opening fixtures. They are one of the few teams in Europe five major leagues to have won all of their matches until now. Despite already falling eight points behind the leaders, Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri does not feel pressurised by the situation.

Allegri says that there is a lot of possibilities still left for Juventus to build on this situation. The win over Genova is likely to be utilised in a positive way by the team. Even though Inter have won all of their games so far, these victories have come by the odd goal. It may be only a matter of time before Roberto Mancini’s team slip up. The fixture list could not have thrown a midweek game at a much better time for Juventus, who are up against Frosinone on Wednesday night. It gives them a great opportunity to build on the first win of the campaign. Continue reading

Juventus became the first Italian team to reach the final of the Champions League

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Juventus became the first Italian team since Inter Milan back in 2010 to reach the final of the Champions League.

They were seen as one of the underdogs in the tournament, but still managed to knock off the likes of Real Madrid and set up a match against Barcelona. Overwhelming favourites Barcelona managed to clinch the trophy 3-1, but it could have been very different had not been for some poor finishing by the Italians. After having based much of their game on a strong defence, Juventus found themselves extremely unlikely to lose goals via mistakes.

Their former manager Antonio Conte, who is currently in charge of the national team, says that the form shown by the club this season has certainly surprised him. During his few years with the Turin-based outfit,Conte managed to attain legendary status after having seen them get promoted from the second division to becoming the champions of Italy once again. If there was a criticism ofConte, it was that Juventus did not do well in the Champions League. In his defence,Conte was having a team that was still being heavily rebuilt for the European campaign. Since taking over the Italian national team after a disappointing World Cup,Conte has overseen a mediocre performance in the Euro 2016 qualification phase. Continue reading

Italy sent Signal after winning Group Match

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When Italy toppled England in their first group match in the World Cup in Brazil last year, they sent a signal to the rest of the World. They made the statement that they were well and truly in the fight. They were there to become the Champions again.

Nine months down the road, here we are feeling pity over the situation of Italian Football.

How unpredictable can the Sports be at times?

The England win that the Azzurri achieved to get started in Brazil, that was followed by a couple of defeats and let alone winning the competition, they had been knocked out before the knockouts.

Something had to give and that happened to be the resignation of Cesare Prandelli.

Prandelli, while leaving, blamed the clubs in the Italian top tier for not working in tandem with the national team management and not cooperating enough. But, at that point of time, it was seen just as a mere excuse from the outgoing manager to hide his failure.

However, the new man Antonio Conte seems to have started feeling the same now. He has had to deal with the reluctance of the clubs to let the players go on national duty that often.

The players get released if a FIFA game is there in the schedule, but, apart from that, there is no allowance from the clubs, not even for short camps and that is becoming a reason of frustration for Conte now. Continue reading