Until recently, Inter Milan were notching win after win in the Serie A after a slow start to their season, but their attempt to stay on Juventus trail were sidetracked due to poor showing before the winter break.
Inter are nine points behind league leaders Juventus and now find themselves four points adrift of second place Lazio after a controversial home win against Cagliari. They travel to face Udinese in the league and Inter needs a good start to the second half of the league if they wish to play in the Champions League next season.
The attacking duo both found the back of the net as a motivated Azzurri proved far too strong for the pointless Irish.
Italy secured their spot in the last eight of Euro 2012, following a convincing 2-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland in Poznan on Monday. Italy's goals were scored by Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli in each half.
Cesare Prandelli's side came into the game with tons of pressure on their shoulders, after failing to win either of their first two Group…
Finally, 2008 UEFA European Championship winners Spain will commence the defence of their title. They will take on Italy in Gdansk before the Republic of Ireland and Croatia's battle in Poznan.
Spain vs Italy
Italy are in the spotlight due to match fixing scandals but beating Spain on Sunday would positively switch the public’s attention from matters in the court room to issues on the pitch. Defeating the European champions is certainly not an easy task but this is what the Azzurri must do to ease their pain.
They have won only 2 of their last 9 UEFA Euro matches so where will Cesare Prandelli’s men find inspiration to succeed at the PGE Arena on Sunday?
Italian football is experiencing a transition. Cesare Prandelli’s blend of youth and experience will contend for the Euro 2012 title in Poland and Ukraine.
How Italy qualified for Euro 2012
The Azzurri went through the qualifiers under a lot of pressure following the country’s poor showing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Prandelli took matters in his own hands and led Italy to Euro 2012 without experiencing defeat.
Remarkably, the Azzurri conceded only 2 goals in over 900 minutes of Euro 2012 qualification football. Their campaign was marked by ugly scenes when Italy hosted Serbia in Genoa on October 12. Crowd violence from a minor group of hooligans saw the match abandoned. The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body handed an automatic 3-0 win forfeit win to the Italians.
Incredibly, Sampdoria have just three games to save themselves from relegation.
Secretly, away from the rehearsed platitudes in front of the camera, perhaps Antonio Cassano is looking back at his spat with Riccardo Garrone with vindication. In the late fall, Garrone ostracized Cassano from Sampdoria for refusing to attend a local awards ceremony as a personal favour to him. Of course, the refusal was accompanied by the usual battery of flattery Cassano-style, during which he reportedly likened Garrone not just to fecal matter, but old one at that. In the aftermath, Cassano apologized repeatedly, but Garrone remained committed to his position, insisting that it was a question of dignity and integrity.
Penitent, Cassano even offered to drink petrol as atonement, but Milan obviated the need for that by rescuing the player from Sampdoria.
Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini have been instructed to perform better as individuals as Italy prepare to take on a strong Slovenian side today.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has requested Cassano and Pazzini to improve their individual performances for Italy and play at their level best in the Euro 2012 qualifying match against Slovenia today. Even though Prandelli stressed on the importance of teamwork, he also stated that the duo should not try to 'overdo' things for the team.
“I expect Cassano and Pazzini to play how everyone knows they are capable of playing,” said Prandelli in the pre-match press conference on Thursday evening.
However, Prandelli also said that Cassano will not be carrying the team on his shoulder.
“He’s not irritable; he’s just feeling the importance of the game like all of us. He needs to give more to this side, but he doesn’t need to overdo it.
The January transfer window didn’t lack excitement. Chelsea, Liverpool, Fernando Torres, Andy Carroll and other names can tell you why. Live Soccer TV looks at last month’s top 10 football transfers!
The following list is not only about the most lucrative deals; it also includes some of the most shocking moves. In the end, one of the questions that will only be best answered through time is this: Which teams and players have been smart, lucky or doomed?
Fernando Torres: Permanent Transfer Done From Liverpool To Chelsea
Moved from Atletico Madrid to Liverpool for around £20M in 2007.
Moved from Liverpool to Chelsea for £50M in January 2011.
That must be THE transfer of January – if not of the year 2011. On the private life front, Fernando Torres is well on his way to being complete. Being married and having a child, what more could the 26-year-old ask for? At the club football career level, however, Torres seems to have more difficulties achieving his goals.
Antonio Cassano only played a few minutes, but they meant the difference between Milan and Cagliari.
Milan are winter champions of Serie A after a 1-0 win over Cagliari, which was achieved in the most unconvincing way possible. However, even a plump Antonio Cassano can be the matchwinner if you are within the purview of the famous mantra that many football—indeed sport--observers throw around: champions win even when not playing well.
Against Cagliari, Milan played poorly, did very little, even less than their Sardinian hosts, but they somehow came home with the three points. The solitary goal, scored in the 85th minute, came virtue not of an old-timer so used to saving the Rossoneri from a disappointing share of the spoils, but rather Rodney Strasser, a recently promoted product of the youth academy, and Cassano, a recently purchased product of misdemeanour.
As part of some football transfer news involving Manchester United, striker Kiko Macheda has joined Sampdoria on loan. The Serie A contenders believe that the Man United striker can replace AC Milan’s Antonio Cassano.
So there should be no more irregular football for the young Italian chap who set to enjoy Serie A football soon. However, nothing is official yet as Macheda explained while talking to Italian magazine La Gazzetta dello Sport:
“It’s just the fax that is missing. Wednesday or Thursday, I’ll be in Italy. I’m very happy because Genoa is a great city.”
Meanwhile, Frederico Macheda’s agent, Giovanni Bia, added more info concerning the transfer of the Manchester United striker as he revealed to Sky Sport 24:
“The idea goes like this [a loan move taking 6 months]. Then, it is going to be evaluated with Manchester United and they’ll need to see if Macheda has to stay in Italy for another year.”
It’s official: Antonio Cassano is an AC Milan player. The ex-Sampdoria play maker has completed his transfer to the red and black side of the San Siro.
As of now, AC Milan haven’t disclosed any info concerning the transfer fee and the duration of the contract. But earlier reports revealed that Antonio Cassano had inked a three-and-a-half-year deal which would see him earn almost €2.8M per year.
Since a week now, the 28-year-old controversial player had been training with Milan as he joined them for the Dubai tour in December. He made his debut for the Rossoneri last Sunday in a match which the Italian outfit won 2-1 – Al Ahli falling victims in the end.
On Monday, a statement on AC Milan’s official website read:
Italian football's enigmatic Antonio Cassano is rumoured to be on his way to Milan, a place where he could resurrect a career that has never really gotten going.
Sampdoria owner Ricardo Garrone has been intransigent on the issue since October. Such is his conviction that he has even sought legal recourse. You could say, he is a man who is willing to take a stand in Italian football, where shifting allegiances, caprice, corruption and panic dictate the terms of administerial conduct.
It has taken Antonio Cassano, the celebrated and maligned pariah of Italian football, to inspire a modicum of consistency in Italian football, a philosophical stand that should cause pause for thought amongst people like Palermo owner Maurizio Zamparini, who changes his mind about issues twice every mood-swing.
Milan have reportedly agreed terms to sign Sampdoria's Antonio Cassano.
Reports emerging from Italy suggest that Milan have agreed a three and a half-year deal with Beppe Bozzo, the agent of Italian football's most celebrated pariah--Sampdoria's Antonio Cassano. The 28-year-old has been frozen out of the Sampdoria squad after he unduly disparaged club owner Riccardo Garrone in October. The dispute was apparently over the question of Cassano's attendance at a local awards ceremony.
Such was the acrimony surrounding the incident that Garrone moved to marginalize Cassano from the club. Despite several apologies from Cassano, Garrone remained obstinate, citing the particularly vicious nature of Cassano's tirade as the reason for his intransigence.
Italy can take command of Group C with a win against Serbia in tomorrow's Euro2012 qualifier.
Estonia upset the balance of Group C with a shocking 3-1 win over Serbia. The Serbs, therefore, will be looking to gain all three points against Italy, which is a tall task away from home. Italy coach Cesare Prandelli will also be looking to bounce back from his team's latest unspectacular performance against Northern Ireland in Belfast.
After a 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland, Italy themselves will be eager for maximum points against Serbia in Genoa tomorrow. Coach Cesare Prandelli is set to start with a 4-4-2, relinquishing momentarily his 4-3-3 after midfielder Daniele De Rossi pulled out with an injury.
Italy were profligate in Belfast, managing only a point.
Italy were left to rue a series of missed chances, as they could only manage a point against Northern Ireland in Belfast. As expected, coach Cesare Prandelli fielded a trident of Marco Borriello, Simone Pepe, and Antonio Cassano, but all three were unable to find a way past their opponents.
The first real chance fell to Northern Ireland's David Healy, but he headed wide from a promising position.
Then Borriello latched onto an Andrea Pirlo ball, but his shot was saved by goalkeeper Taylor.
Italy will look to maintain their 100% record in Group C when they take on Northern Ireland tomorrow.
Italy's resounding 5-0 defeat of the Faroe Islands in the last Euro2012 qualifier was greeted with widespread alacrity amongst Italian fans because it provided respite from an annus horribilis for the Azzurri. The World Cup in South Africa shocked even the most committed fatalist: Italy finished bottom of a group that contained New Zealand, Slovakia, and Paraguay.
The customary post-mortems all agreed that perhaps coach Marcello Lippi had left the country's best players at home. Antonio Cassano's virtuoso performance against the Faroe Islands does much to vindicate that view. However, with all due respect, Cassano carved open Faroe Islands, not Spain. The real test for Italy begins now, as they play Northern Ireland tomorrow and Serbia on Tuesday.
Prandelli tinkers with formation ahead of tomorrow's encounter.
After an unconvincing 2-1 win over Estonia, Italy take on Faroe Islands in Florence on Tuesday. Coach Cesare Prandelli lamented recently that Italy lacked confidence at half-time of their first encounter, signaling in the process that Italian shortcomings may be more psychological than anything else.Admittedly, the Azzurri have looked timid, even when compared to the 2008 version under Roberto Donadoni, a team that, if nothing else, could play out a pragmatic 0-0 draw (Euro2008) with Spain.The current Italian side needs to find a combination of that self-belief and a distinct identity that will let them impose their authority on a game.
Prandelli has somewhat of a selection headache ahead of tomorrow’s game.What is becoming increasingly clear is that a reformed Antonio Cassano, the erstwhile petulant talent of Italian football, is the man around whom the new Italy will be built.He looks to keep his place in attack as Prandelli experiments with a 4-3-2-1.Fiorentina’s Alberto Gilardino is set to spearhead the attack in front of Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi.It is a variation of a 4-3-3 that worked moderately well against Estonia.However, Rossi and Cassano bring different qualities in attack.Rossi is an enterprising, speedy forward, while Cassano likes to carve out chances in close spaces as a more traditional playmaker.
Cesare Prandelli braves a new era as Italy look to get their Euro2012 qualifying campaign off on a winning note.
Italy will look to make amends for an abysmal performance at this summer's World Cup when they take on Estonia in Group C of the Euro2012 Qualifying campaign. The Azzurri exited the World Cup in ignominy after they failed to manage a single win in a relatively modest group that contained Slovakia, New Zealand, and Paraguay. It was a humiliating outing for the then defending champions due in no small part to coach Marcello Lippi's reliance on the ageing legs of the 2006 winners. Captain Fabio Cannavaro looked a yard off pace, while players like Gianluca Zambrotta proved simply mediocre.
Cesare Prandelli's arrival at the helm has brought with it some respite as he has vowed to mould the team not according to the reputation of the Berlin heroes, but youth and competence. For perhaps political reasons, Lippi opted to leave the likes of Antonio Cassano home during the World Cup, arguing implicitly, and not entirely unconvincingly, that players like him disrupt squad harmony notwithstanding their undeniable talent. Prandelli, however, has no such reservations and has selected Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano (pictured) in a recent friendly against the Ivory Coast.