Steve Clarke says Antonio Conte will find Support from John Terry


Former Chelsea assistant manager Steve Clarke says that new manager Antonio Conte will receive the best possible support if John Terry stays at the club next season.

It looks almost certain that Terry will leave Chelsea at the end of the campaign. His contract runs out in a few months and the club has reportedly told the player that it will not be renewed. Terry, though, is still hopeful about signing the deal if it arrives on his table. Conte has had a hugely successful career as a manager, but he has not experienced life outside Italy yet.

He has managed only Italian clubs and is now with the Italian national team. This situation is largely similar to that of Carlo Ancelotti when he arrived from AC Milan in the summer of 2009. Back then, Ancelotti was assisted by a strong spine of the team. The likes of Frank Lampard, John Terry, and Didier Drogba knew the club from the bottom up and it was easy for Ancelotti to settle. The current Chelsea team does not have such figures aside from Terry. Further, Conte is yet to start learning English and language problems could be a major hurdle. Continue reading

What are Italy’s Chances at Euro 2016?


When it comes to potential winners of this summer’s European Championships there are probably few who think that Italy have a good chance of taking home the trophy. Although sides will be wary of coming up against the Azzurri it is unlikely that they have the depth and individual brilliance to be victorious.

They will go into the tournament in France as an outside bet to win at best. But is there any way they could cause what would be regarded as an upset? And who are the players who really need to perform this summer? Continue reading

Italy could be the real darkhorses


Italy will travel to Euro 2016 this summer among the darkhorses to go all the way, and although it is a position that belies the Azzurri’s rich tradition of being a dominant force on the international stage, it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Antonio Conte and his team.

The former Juventus manager, who is poised to step down at the end of the tournament to take over the reins at Chelsea, will view the upcoming European Championship as a great opportunity to prove that Italian football is on the rise once again following a decade in which England, Spain and Germany have led the way in terms of domestic league profile, spending power and success in European competitions. Conte is likely to opt for a combination of youth and experience at Euro 2016, although the Italian FA’s decision to follow Germany’s lead in placing considerable investment into youth systems across the country will reap considerable dividends for the future of Italian football at domestic and international level.

Although it will be down to a new manager to guide future generations of star players who pull on the famous Azzurri shirt, Conte will hope to bow out from international management with his head held high following a strong campaign that not only sets himself up well for the challenges that lay ahead in the Premier League, but also puts Italy back on the map following the hugely disappointing 2014 World Cup campaign which ended at the group stage following defeats against Uruguay and Costa Rica.

Italy have earned a staunch reputation for being one of the most difficult sides on the international stage to break down, with the defensive resilience and willingness to put bodies on the line for the cause a hallmark of what Italy have been all about over the years. This quality will certainly have to come to the fore after the draw was rather unkind to Conte, putting Italy in a potential “group of death” alongside Belgium, Ireland and Sweden.

It may explain why have installed Italy among the darkhorses for Euro 2016 rather than being one of the strong favourites, and with expectancy levels being lower than in previous years, it may allow the players to express themselves more without the pressure to succeed weighing on their shoulders. Lorenzo Insigne and Stephan El Shaarawy are two players in particular who have the ability and skill to make a real impact that Italy need in the final third, and if they are allowed to play with no fear, then both of Conte’s young stars could make a real name for themselves.

Writing off one of just three teams who came through their qualifying campaign without losing a single game (England and Austria being the others) would be rather unwise, particularly given Italy’s ability to deliver big performances during major tournaments. However, Conte will be under no illusions as to the difficult nature of the group that lies ahead for his team, particularly with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eden Hazard and Shane Long standing out as real threats to Italy’s chances of progressing from Group E. Using the disappointment of 2014 may be the motivation that Italy need to not only avoid making the same mistakes, but also come back even stronger and provide the foundations for future generations to take the national team forward.

This summer may prove to be the final European Championship swansong for Gianluigi Buffon who has been a wonderful servant for the Azzurri over the years. Very few would begrudge the 38-year-old of the opportunity to go all the way at Euro 2016 – an achievement which may present good value through a Paddy Power free bets offer that is covered on’s review – with Buffon likely to play a key role in France. He could be part of an all-Juventus rearguard if Conte stays true to his preference for three centre-backs, with Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli all in contention to start in their opening fixture against Belgium. They form the defensive framework which epitomises the hard work and organisation qualities that Italy must maintain throughout Euro 2016 if they are to have a chance of reaching the latter stages.

The big question marks that hangs over Italy is whether the vast experience and nous at the back can be match by the required flair and combative qualities further upfield, with Claudio Marchisio and Marco Verratti likely to be hugely missed at the heart of midfield. Antonio Candreva and El Shaarawy certainly bring a touch of flair and creativity, but although Conte will be pleased at the recent form of Insigne, his other options upfront (Eder, Pelle and Zaza) have endured limited time on the pitch this season.

Some would argue that Italy have lacked firepower upfront since the days of Roberto Baggio, Filippo Inzaghi and Christian Vieri, and although the likes of Domenico Berrardi and Sebastian Giovinco have been mentioned as players who could make a late push for a place in Conte’s 23-man squad, the Azzurri could go into Euro 2016 without a proven goal-scoring striker. It may come down to organisation, determination and discipline that are hallmarks of any Conte team to carry Italy forward this summer, and if the more advanced players can find a spark to compliment a rock-steady defence, then there is every chance that Italy could make a bigger impact than some may expect.

Frank Lampard says that Antonio Conte is not going to tolerate with players


Frank Lampard says that Antonio Conte is not going to tolerate with players not in line with his philosophy when he comes to take charge of Chelsea in the summer.

Lampard expects those players to be sold by the Italian without second thoughts.Conte will come to the club after his role with the Italian national ends after the Euro 2016. Lampard admitted that the club was in a state of transition when Jose Mourinho arrived almost three years ago. The arrival of the Portuguese was expected to make the club a dominant force for the next decade.

This was not the case after Mourinho found themselves once again looking for a new job inside three years. The club also has failed to qualify for the Champions League next season. Many now feel that the club has gone backwards. Lampard felt that Chelsea were in a promising position with the likes of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, and Kevin De Bruyne were all young and starting to dominate the team. Now, those young players have either been sold or they are suffering from a catastrophic dip in form. Lampard says that Conte now has a big job on his hands to rebuild Chelsea from the bottom up. Continue reading

Paolo Di Canio backs Antonio Conte


West Ham legend Paolo Di Canio has given his backing to Antonio Conte, who is widely expected to take charge of Chelsea in the summer.

The 46-year-old has only experienced Italian football up until now in his managerial career. He is currently in charge of the Italian national team. This job was secured on the back of his impressive spell with Juventus. However, Conte recently confirmed that he was stepping down from his role as the national team boss after the Euro 2016. He took charge of Italy only after the World Cup 2014 from Cesare Prandelli.

Many would have expected him to carry on until the 2018 World Cup and this decision comes as a major surprise. However, he has never looked comfortable with national team management since there is no day-to-day involvement. Chelsea have had a revolving door of managers, but there seems to be a change in the attitude of the club in recent times. The club parted company with José Mourinho midway through the 2015-16 season only because results were extremely poor and the club found itself in the middle of a relegation battle. Di Canio revealed that he spoke in length about English football with Conte only two months ago, but the discussion never featured Chelsea according to the West Ham legend. Continue reading

Italy boss set to join Chelsea as manager


The current Italy head coach, Antonio Conte is set to be announced as the next Chelsea manager. He will be the successor to Guus Hiddink, who will stay until the end of the current season.

Hiddink replaced Jose Mourinho, who was sacked by the Chelsea board earlier this season because of poor performance.
Antonio Conte has declared that it is an honor to be managing a club like Chelsea especially after having been able to lead his own country’s national team. Continue reading

Italian football went through a very tough period in the previous decade


Italian football went through a very tough period in the previous decade but it is slowly climbing up to the top according to the national team manager Antonio Conte.

Italian clubs were regarded as the finest in the world during the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, rising TV money helped the Premier League to attract a number of stars towards the turn of the century. Even though the Premier league was not able to compete with the Italian league in terms of trophies won on a European scale, the English league was largely seen as the best competition in the world.

The domination now is being conducted by the Spanish league, butConte reckons that the tables are turning in favour of the Italians once again. Juventus reached the Champions League final last season when they were narrowly beaten by Barcelona, who were the huge favourites ahead of the competition. Juventus are now on a winning run of more than 13 matches and it has seen them claim to top of the Italian Serie A from an improbable position only a few months ago. Conte says that the Italian FA has taken similar steps to that of Germany 15 years ago. This means investing in the youth and it will pay dividends in the future according to the former Juve boss. Continue reading

Juventus on course for record season


Serie A leaders Juventus are on course to make history in Italy this season, provided they can keep their run of wins going for a few more games.

The reigning Italian champions brought their consecutive winning streak to 15 games with a 1-0 victory over Napoli recently. Simone Zaza’s goal ensured they picked up maximum points once again in a game against their title rivals, a win which allowed them to leapfrog Napoli to the top of the Serie A standings.

Juventus will now have Inter Milan’s record of 17 consecutive wins in their sights. Inter set that mark during the 2006-2007 season. Their run began early in the campaign in October when they defeated Livorno comfortably 4-1. It then stretched all the way through to late February when they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Udinese.

This latest stretch by Juventus is the fifth time in the club’s history that they have embarked on a winning consecutive run of 10 games or more. They first did so during the 1931-32 season, and have achieved the feat four more times since 2013.

The 2015/16 season did not start very well for Juventus under manager Massimiliano Allegri. They failed to win any of their opening three games, with defeats coming against Udinese and Roma in week one and two, respectively.

In September, Juventus lost further ground on the league leaders as they dropped points against Chievo, Frosinone and Napoli as their slow start to the campaign continued. Their poor run of form meant they had dropped all the way down to the bottom half of the standings, a position they are not used to being in.

After losing on the road to Sassuolo on October 28, Allegri was starting to come under pressure for his job. Large sections of the Juventus crowd were running out of patience with the 48-year old as the Old Lady looked to be losing their grip on their title. That pressure would have been further intensified if Juan Cuadrado had not scored the winner in the 93rd minute in Juve’s 2-1 win at home to Torino in their very next game. That victory began their 15 game winning streak, a run which has allowed them to climb back to the top of the table in Italy.

The league championship now looks to be a two horse race between Juventus and Napoli as the pair are nine points clear of third placed Roma. Although Juve have stolen all the headlines recently for their consecutive winning run, Napoli have had a fantastic campaign themselves as they have only lost three times in Serie A, with one of those losses coming recently against the defending champions.

Juventus are 8-15 in the latest Serie A odds as they bid for their fifth league championship on the spin. The Old Lady also have a two-legged last 16 Champions League tie with Bayern Munich to contend with in the near future, while they look set to reach the final of Coppa Italia as they beat Inter 3-0 in the first-leg of their semi-final clash.

Belgium have been one of the most surprising packages


Belgium 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


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