Sunday, 14 October 2018

Chievo Desperate For A Win: Gian Piero Ventura Given That Task

Image result for giampiero ventura  (Gian Piero Ventura: in picture)

It’s fair to suggest that Chievo’s start to the season has been nothing short of disastrous both on and off the pitch. The club find themselves bottom of Serie A after a winless start to the campaign but off field issues have led to a 3-point deduction and as they lie bottom of the table, they are yet to eradicate the minus deficit handed out by the Italian authorities. Times are tough for the club and things must improve quickly.

Times have been tough off the pitch following a points deduction at the start of September due to false accounting. The club were also slapped with a fine of £180,000 and while they have appealed the decision from the Italian FA, a successful appeal seems unlikely with numerous issues found in their accounting. Things are bad but, on the pitch, things are no better with no wins in their opening 8 games costing Lorenzo D’Anna his job with the club after successfully keeping them up last season. The club is desperate for a change in fortunes on the pitch with the club rooted to the bottom of the table and currently 5 points behind 17th place.  D’Anna has failed to ignite their season and while he is respected for the job done, football is a results’ business and clearly things desperately needed to change and axe had to fall.

Chievo have turned to an experienced, well respected manager of the Italian game in Gian Piero Ventura. A man who knows Serie A like the back of his hand having overseen the likes of Torino, Napoli, Udinese, Hellas Verona, Cagliari and Sampdoria amongst his very long CV. However, a disappointing spell in charge of the Italian National team has somewhat damaged his reputation after Italy failed to make the 2018 world cup and no doubt he will want to rebuild his own reputation by getting Chievo to safety. Despite his difficult spell in charge of the national team, Ventura has an excellent managerial record at places he has managed:

Napoli (Won 17, Draw 10, Lost 7) – Win Percentage of 50%
Hellas Verona (Won 10, Draw 8, Lost 8) – Win Percentage of 38.46%
Torino (Won 85, Draw 64, Lost 67) – Win Percentage of 39.35%

There is no doubt Ventura has the pedigree to turn the situation around, but he has one huge task ahead of him if he is going to ignite Chievo’s poor season so far. Chievo have plenty of issues both offensively and defensively.

Attacking stats:
Goals: 6 = joint 15th
Shots on goal per game: 10.1 = 18th
Shots on target per game: 2.6 = joint 18th
Dribbles per game: 3.3 = joint 18th

Defensive stats:
Goals conceded: 19 = 2nd
Shots faced per game: 18.3 = 2nd
Tackles per game: 16.4 = joint 6th
Interceptions per game: 11.3 = 7th
Fouls conceded per game: 13.1 = 9th

While their defensive stats show some attempts at stopping their opposition, they have the 2nd worst defensive in the league conceding on average 2 goals a game and you cannot win football matches with that average. Ventura must address Chievo’s defensive issues and fast if they are to mount a survival charge. However, Chievo have major issues going forward with goals proving very difficult and creating chances even harder. The likes of Emanuele Giaccherini and Valter Birsa are struggling to create opportunities for themselves and their team mates. Their top scorer Mariusz Stepinski has contributed 33% of their goals so far this season with Sergio Pellissier being the only other striker to score so far this season. Chievo are desperately short of creativity so will Ventura’s style of play be able to unlock the creative forces in this squad?

Ventura will encourage his side to play football from the back meaning the defenders must be confident to play with the football. Ventura will always look to exploit the first line of the opposition’s press to get his team charging forward. While he prefers a formation of 3-5-2, Ventura has dipped out of another formation in 4-2-4. Ventura’s preference is to spread play through wingers and leave the central midfielders in the middle of the park to break up play and occasionally go forward. Ventura will instantly need good communication from the players to get his philosophies and style of play across with his teams needing to be in complete synchronicity. While Ventura will work on Chievo’s defence, his central defenders will be key for Chievo’s new style of play in which they always must be available to provide an outlet for consistent possession when attacks break down. So, plenty of training ground time is needed for Ventura and Chievo to get all his ideas across. However, they need results and fast and no doubt Ventura is well aware of the task ahead.

Chievo’s next 6 games:
Atalanta (H)
Cagliari (A)
Sassuolo (H)
Bologna (H)
Napoli (A)
Lazio (H)

So, a huge job ahead for Gian Piero Ventura and Chievo will be hoping he is the man to change their fortunes and get their failing season going. Results need to come from the start to give them any chance of fighting back this season. Atalanta at home first is a huge game for both clubs and no doubt we will begin to see Ventura’s style of play implanted from the start. The season starts now for Chievo and the fans will be hoping a win comes sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

La Liga: September Review (Matchday 4 to 7)


La Liga is the certainly the league that consistently gives us entertainment, exciting football and quality goals. Going into October, the league is extremely tight with just 3 points separating the top 7 sides. Barcelona lead the way ahead of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla. While the bottom 3 is made up of Rayo Vallecano, Huesca and Leganes who are all lacking goals, conceding too many and severely lacking confidence.

The top of the table is extremely tight with Barcelona and Real Madrid both stuttering in September. Valverde’s Barcelona are winless in their last 3 league games with 2 draws and a defeat to struggling Leganes. While Real Madrid are also winless and goalless in their last 3 league games and already both Ernesto Valverde and Julen Lopetegui are under pressure to improve quickly. While September was excellent for 3rd place Sevilla with Pablo Machin’s side winning their last 3 games scoring 12 goals in the process. Machin is slowly getting a tune out of his new look side but certainly the striking partnership of Wissam Ben Yedder and Andre Silva is looking a very good combination indeed with the duo notching 12 goals between them. September certainly belonged to the Andalusian club and they will be confident of keeping their form up going into October. 4th place Atletico Madrid also had a strong September with Diego Simeone’s side staying unbeaten throughout the month winning 2 and drawing 2 including in the Madrid derby with the Los Blancos. Atletico Madrid are slowly clicking into gear after a slow start to the campaign and no doubt will feel they can challenge for the title with the top 2 stuttering through September.  

September was an excellent month for Espanyol, Alaves and Valladolid. It was an excellent month for Espanyol with Rubi’s side ending the month in 7th place after winning 2 of their 4 games and losing just once against Real Madrid. Rubi has made Espanyol efficient, clinical and tough to beat. New start striker Borja Iglesias is adapting well at Spain’s highest-level notching 2 goals while Esteban Granero, Sergi Darder, Pablo Piatti and Mikel Hermoso are also playing at the top of their game.  Rubi will be delighted with his opening few months at the Barcelona based club and no doubt he will want that positive momentum to carry during October.  Alaves also enjoyed September and no doubt they will be hoping their momentum carries into the new month. Abelardo Fernandez’s side are looking confident and oozing quality from all areas. They are also proving a tough nut to crack defensively conceding just 8 goals so far this season. Despite a defeat to Levante, Alaves enjoyed an excellent September thrashing Rayo Vallecano, beating Valladolid and drawing with Getafe. Newly promoted Real Valladolid have enjoyed their September ending the month with back to back wins seeing them climb up to 10th place. The new boys have a tough August with goals proving allusive however, its clear a win makes all the difference with the club oozing confidence and moral is high with goals beginning to flow from all areas of the pitch. Their highlight was certainly a 1-0 away win at Villarreal with new boy Leonardo Suarez proving a shrewd signing by Valladolid. The irony for Villarreal is that Suarez’s is their player. But Villarreal’s loss has been Valladolid’s gain and no doubt confidence is high going into October.

However, September was difficult for Leganes, Huesca and Rayo Vallecano. The bottom 3 clubs are struggling across all areas of the pitch. Its been a difficult start for Mauricio Pellegrino at Leganes with his completely new look side not gelling and conceding too many cheap goals. Despite a win over Barcelona in the month of September, they lost the other 3 leaving them with just 4 points from their opening 7 games and certainly Pellegrino could well be feeling the heat. Leganes are pointless and goalless away from home so far this season and Pellegrino must get this team to gel fast. No doubt confidence would off been very high after their stunning win over Barcelona but a disappointing defeat to Eibar followed. No doubt a big Madrid derby with Vallecano to kick off October could be the catalyst to ignite their stuttering season. Rayo Vallecano may also look at that game as a chance to ignite their season. The Madrid based club have notched just 5 points from their opening 6 games and on a winless run of 3 matches. Vallecano are struggling for goals and confidence and things must improve fast otherwise their latest stay in La Liga will be very short indeed. Things are proving hard for new boys Huesca with the club winless since the opening weekend of the season. Their first ever La Liga campaign is proving difficult for the club and Leo Franco is also struggling in his first managerial role. The club have shown glimpses of quality in matches, but their final ball and finish is alluding them. Not to mention their defence has been abysmal so far this campaign conceding 8 in one match and 17 in total. Conceding on average 2 goals a game is not going to win them football matches. Leo Franco is severely under pressure and must get them going otherwise the sack could loom for the young manager.  Times have been tough for the current bottom 3 but could October be the month to get their seasons up and running.

4 huge La Liga clubs, rich in Spanish football history are struggling in bottom half of the La Liga table. Valencia, Villarreal, Ath Bilbao and Real Sociedad are 4 of Spain’s biggest football clubs but finding life difficult so far this season. Both big Basque clubs changed their manager during the summer and so far, Eduardo Berizzo and Asier Garitano are yet to really get Bilbao and Sociedad going this campaign. Bilbao are 15th after a slow start with just 1 win so far this campaign and goals are proving tough with Artiz Aduriz not at his usual best while Inaki Williams can’t buy a goal for love nor money. Real Sociedad are point and a place better off than Bilbao but Asier Garitano’s side are inconsistent and struggling for goals in particular at the Anoeta. Garitano is attempting to put his style across and no doubt it is taking time but in the modern game managers don’t get the time needed. October is a big month for both Basque clubs with them kicking off the month against each other. Could a derby win ignite one club’s season? Only time will tell. Valencia are also enduring a tough start to the season. Despite only losing once, they have only managed 1 win in their opening 7 games. Marcelino’s side suffering from high expectations after last season’s fantastic campaign. Goals are also proving hard to find with Valencia notching just 5 league goals. That is a major problem for Valencia and they must address that issue quickly. Whereas, inconsistency is Villarreal’s big issue. The Yellow submarine can be excellent one week and very poor another as highlighted in their victory over Ath Bilbao and defeat to Valladolid. They lie 12th after the first two months and no doubt Javi Calleja will demand improvement going into October. In fact, all 4 managers will demand improvement with each club well below expectations and should this poor form continue through October, could the axe fall on any of them? Big clubs bring big expectations and so far, all 4 clubs are flattering to deceive.

September was brilliant, and no doubt October will be the same with some mouth-watering games to come including Ath Bilbao vs Real Sociedad, Leganes vs Rayo Vallecano, Valencia vs Barcelona, Barcelona vs Sevilla, Villarreal vs Ath Madrid, Rayo Vallecano vs Getafe, Eibar vs Ath Bilbao, Ath Bilbao vs Valencia, Ath Madrid vs Real Sociedad and the first El Clasico of the season between Barcelona and Real Madrid. October could be a very defining month for the La Liga clubs with the season really beginning to take shape. The axe could fall on managers as improvement will be demanded by many after average Septembers. But who will be the first club to make that call? October could provide us with plenty of answers.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Serie A: September Review (Matchday 4 to 7)


Serie was thoroughly entertaining in September with quality football, excellent goals and all-round general excitement. As expected Juventus maintained their 100% record during September. 7 wins out of 7 have the Old Lady comfortably perched at the top. While Empoli, Frosinone and Chievo make up the bottom 3 with each side severely struggling for form and wins.

Juventus are flying high as everyone expected. A maximum of 7 wins out of 7 have the Old Lady comfortably controlling Serie A once again. A dominant win over title rivals Napoli has highlighted their complete control yet again. Cristiano Ronaldo is slowly finding his feet notching 4 goals so far while Mario Mandzukic has also begun to find form notching 2 of Juventus’s 3 goals against Napoli. Speaking of Napoli, it has been a solid start in charge for Carlo Ancelotti with 5 wins in his first 7 games to leave them 2nd in the table. Ancelotti’s side are slowly adapting to his style and tactics and are slowly beginning to capture last seasons’ form under Maurizio Sarri. Lorenzo Insigne has started the season well notching 6 goals so far with talismanic Dries Mertens not as integral this season so far. Ancelotti’s men will keep plugging away and hope Juventus drop points somewhere in the near future. The top 4 at the end of September is made up of Fiorentina and Inter. Fiorentina are going well especially at home and Stefano Pioli’s side look a much-improved team this season after inconsistencies in the previous campaign. The Viola lost to Napoli but back to back wins at the end of the month saw them secure 3rd place. A much-improved month for Inter after a slow start to the season has propelled Inter into the top 4. A 3-match winning run has seen Inter’s new look team begin to gel nicely and get their season up and running.  

September was an excellent month for Parma, Lazio and Sassuolo. Newly promoted Parma have had an excellent September winning 3 of their 4 games seeing them end the month in 10th place. Gervinho has been an excellent acquisition for the club since his move from China with the Ivorian notching 3 goals so far including goals in their recent winning run. Lazio have also had an excellent September winning 3 of their 4 games with their only blemish being a defeat in the derby with Roma. After losing their opening 2 games, Lazio have been much better with 4 straight league wins but no doubt the derby defeat will have hurt. Simeone Inzaghi will demand improvement going into their October games. Roberto De Zerbi has had an excellent start in charge of Sassuolo with the club lying 5th in the table after the opening 2 months of the season. Defeats to Juventus and AC Milan their only disappointments so far this campaign. De Zerbi has them playing excellent football and winning fans for their unique style and ambition to succeed. The likes of Domenico Berardi and Stefano Sensi have maintained good form while new signings Kevin Prince Boateng and Federico Di Francesco have been excellent so far. They did end the month with a heavy home defeat to AC Milan and no doubt De Zerbi will want to carry the positive momentum built so far going into October.

However, September has been tough for Atalanta, Empoli and Frosinone with all three sides having a winless September. It has been an unusually poor start for Gianpiero Gasperini and Atalanta with the club sat in 16th place following a run of just 1 win in 7 games. They are also winless in last 6 since their opening day triumph over Frosinone. Disappointing performances and results have heaped pressure on Gasperini and his players while last seasons’ regulars including Alejandro Gomez are yet to find their form this season. Atalanta must improve in October otherwise the axe could well fall on the experienced Gasperini. Atalanta’s problems are probably not as bad as Frosinone with the club winless and sat 19th with just 1 point from 7 games while their first goal didn’t arrive until 7th match of the season against Genoa. The newly promoted side are struggling following a complete team transition in the summer and so far they haven’t gelled or got going and the fans will demand something to change whether that be sacking Moreno Longo or changing their style to play to gain the necessary results. Fellow promoted side Empoli are also finding life hard back in Serie A. They have notched 5 points from their opening 7 games and are winless in their last 6 games. However, they have remained competitive in matches this season and no doubt Aurelio Andreazzoli has confidence in his team, but they must find a win sooner rather than later.

One side having an extremely tough time is Chievo who are rooted to the bottom following a points deduction but even if they didn’t have that penalty, they would still be in the bottom 3 after just 3 draws so far this season. The off-field issues are affecting the whole club including players and fans and Lorenzo D’Anna is struggling to get results and performances on the pitch following a poor start. Something must give at the Verona club sooner rather than later with the fans very unhappy and Lorenzo D’Anna feeling the pressure from all areas. Goals are proving allusive with the club notching just 6 goals so far this season while clean sheets are proving allusive and their defence is conceding over 2 goals a game on average and things must improve drastically to give them a chance of pulling out of danger and getting rid of that frustrating negative deficit. Could October be Chievo’s month? Only time will tell.

September was excellent, and no doubt October will very much be the same with some mouth-watering games to come including Lazio vs Fiorentina, Atalanta vs Sampdoria, Frosinone vs Empoli, Inter vs AC Milan, AC Milan vs Sampdoria, Lazio vs Inter and Napoli vs Roma. October could be the month where we begin to see where each team’s season is heading and certainly it could be a very important month for all teams conceded. Goals and quality football will follow as the 2018/19 Serie A season firmly clicks into gear.