Rodwell Completes Move To Sunderland

In an effort to get back into the England national team, Jack Rodwell has completed a £ 10 million move to Sunderland. The former Everton midfielder has struggled for first-team opportunities at Manchester City. He moved to Etihad stadium for around £ 12 million two years ago. However, after featuring in just 26 matches during this period, he is keen on getting regular football. Rodwell was once spoken as the next big thing in the England setup. This was primarily due to Wayne Rooney’s emergence from the Everton youth ranks in the same way as Rodwell.

The 23-year-old, though, has struggled to live up to the expectations primarily because of injuries. He appears to be finally behind the injury problems, but getting game time at City has been tough because of the intense competition. Players like Yaya Touré and Fernandinho have dominated City midfield and it will be tough to dislodge them straightaway. Once spoken of as the replacement for Frank Lampard, Rodwell is keen on recovering his international career. Since making his England debut in 2011, the 23-year-old has made only three appearances in total for the national team.

Due to Roy Hodgson’s clear statements that he wants to focus on the youth for the upcoming Euro 2016, Rodwell may feel that he will have a great opportunity should he play regularly. “Regular football is the most important thing for me. This is a great place for me to be. Watching the World Cup left a little bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. I was supporting the team 100%, but I also wanted to be there so I think it’s time I put that right. Without doubt the last couple of seasons I have not played nearly enough football as I have wanted to play,” said Rodwell.

TOTTI DELIGHTED

Roma captain Francesco Totti has stated that he is extremely delighted with the way the club has managed to return to Champions League after several years out of this elite competition. Roma have been consistent players in the Champions League only a few years ago, but the last few years have been very difficult for the club. The arrival of Rudy Garcia as the coach has done wonders to the team. They have not only been able to return to Champions League, but this was also the season that they almost won the title.

The title campaign suffered during the middle of the season. Otherwise, they would have been top of the table. Continue reading TOTTI DELIGHTED

JUVE DEFEATED

Juventus suffered their first defeat in a long time after being beaten 2-0 by Napoli during the weekend. This brought an end to the unbeaten run, which stretches over 22 matches. Their club have been simply brilliant other Antonio Conte, who is on course to leading the club to their third straight league title. The brilliant young and upcoming manager has said that the club needs to recover quickly from this defeat. He says that the defeat against Napoli is a major motivation to get back to winning ways when the club take on Lyon in the Europa league.

After being knocked out of the Champions League at the group stages, Juventus has set a target of winning the Europa league this campaign. This will be their first major European success in a long time. After almost sealing the Italian Serie A title, Juventus will be shifting their focus entirely towards this competition. They have been drawn against French outfit Lyon, who have fallen from their Champions League days of the past. The first leg will be away from home and it gives Juventus a great opportunity to put themselves in a commanding position before the return leg.

Lyon have been for the French league this campaign and Conte is straightaway targeting a win from the first leg.

“I hope the defeat in Naples will allow us to regroup. Lyon are a great French team, very strong in attack and also physically. We know their strengths and weaknesses. We know that the first leg is always important. We are going to try and keep the ball. The fact we are the last Italian team in the Europa League is a great satisfaction but has put pressure on us. We want to go far in this competition, the final is at home. But we have injured players too,” said Conte.

BENITEZ CHASES CHELSEA

After his move to Italy football in the summer, Rafa Benitez has tried to sign a couple of his former players from Chelsea. It was rumoured that he was interested in bringing Juan Mata to Napoli, but that would never materialised and the Spaniard has since gone to Manchester United for a club record fee of £ 37.1 million. This deal has surprised many since Mata has been one of the best players for Chelsea in the last two years. This is also the opinion of Benitez, who says that he would have never sold in the 25-year-old.

Benitez is an admirer of Mata after having played him in most of the matches when he was at Chelsea. The 25-year-old, though, never got a look in under the new management of Jose Mourinho, who has been involved in a war of words with Benitez for several years. The rivalry has been resumed after Benitez commented that Mourinho was wrong in deciding to sell the player of Mata’s quality to one of the main rivals. Eden Hazard has been made as the main man under Mourinho. The Belgian international has started in every Premier league match up until now.

Benitez won the Europa league with Chelsea last season, but Mourinho hit back saying that he does not want to win the second rated European competition.

“I am not here to talk about Chelsea. But Juan was their best player in the last two years. That is it. You can see that, but I am not here to analyse what they did,” said Benitez ahead of his return to England. He is coming back with his Napoli team, who play against Swansea in the Europa league. Napoli have dropped into this competition after finishing third in their Champions League group despite finishing with 12 points.

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE

Inter Milan’s coach Walter Mazzarri has received the dreaded vote of confidence from the president after a poor run of results has seen the club slip out of contention for the top three. Only the top three teams in the Italian league qualify for the Champions League next season. Since the 1-0 win over AC Milan, Inter have been very poor and it has seen them slip several points behind Napoli in the third place. There are unlikely to make the vast points difference in the remaining matches of the season. Mazzarri, who was appointed by former president Massimo Moratti, is in danger of losing his job.

Just before any manager is sacked, they usually receive a vote of confidence from the board or the president. It has happened with Mazzarri as well, as president Erick Thohir says that the club are fully behind the manager despite not having won in 2014. The club has won just eight of the last 22 league matches, while they also suffered an embarrassing defeat in the last 16 of the Coppa Italia. There have been rumours that the club are considering a change in management in order to improve their fortunes. However, this vote of confidence from Thohir is likely to keep Mazzarri in the job at least for the next few weeks.

“After the close of the January transfer window and the game in Turin, I feel it is appropriate for me to outline our sports strategy. We are going through a transition year and our main aim is to lay the foundations for our future: this is a difficult season and clearly it is not easy to find another winning combination like the one we had a few years ago. I will sit down and discuss with him which players possess the necessary qualities and motivation to remain with us,” said the president.

JUVE ON TOP

Juventus are once more at the top of the Italian league Serie A, As.Roma had started the season in a superb way as they went undefeated for a large amount of matches but a number of draws against Ac.Milan, Atalanta, Torino and Sassuolo allowed Juventus not only to catch up but also to surpass at the top spot of the league.

With the transfer window opened most clubs from around all leagues are dying to secure a player that can solve some of their weaknesses. Chelsea needs a decent striker, Manchester United is in need of a midfielder, Ac.Milan wants an entire new team.

But looking at Juventus and their top notch squad there isn’t much improvement that needs to be done. The side of Antonio Conte is the club that has scored more goals than any other in Serie A and at the same time is one the squad’s which has conceded fewer goals.

Even at his fairly elevated age, Gianluigi Buffon is still regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world and still has a few more seasons that he can surely perform at his usual world class level. Meanwhile on the midfield Arturo Vidal has been a breakthrough player and a perfect teammate for the architect Andrea Pirlo.

The attacking department of the team is also fairly well rounded with Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente leading the way for the squad.

There has been however rumors about some players that might be leaving Juventus which is the case of Giovinco and Martin Caceres who has attracted the attention of Roma and Napoli but other than that, there really isn’t anything that Conte has to worry about.

The only player that has sparked the interest of Juventus is Luis Nani who is not enjoying any playing time in Manchester United and the Italian team could be tempted to make a move for the Winger but at the current situation that Juventus is in right now, their squad is good enough to secure the Scudetto.

WHERE NEXT?

There has been a lot of speculation about the future of Cesare Prandelli as the national team manager of Italy. It is rumoured that Prandelli is ready to step down from his role at the end of the 2014 World Cup, as he is keen to enter into club football once again. The former Roma and Fiorentina manager is one of the most wanted men in football. The likes of Juventus are interested in hiring him, but Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Giancarlo Abete has confirmed that he wants to keep Prandelli beyond the 2014 World Cup.

Prandelli has done extremely well in his role as the Italian national team manager. Italy were in a poor state when he took over in 2010, but it has managed to guide them to the finals of the Euro 2012. He has also reduced the age of the squad during this period. Italy also came close to winning the Confederations cup in the summer. After three years at the international level, Prandelli is thought to miss club football that involves day-to-day work. Abete, though, has said that he is very happy with the work done by Prandelli so far and he would like to retain him beyond the 2014 World Cup.

“I like a lot of coaches. However, I like Prandelli more than anyone else. I hope that he stays as the head coach after Brazil 2014. If our relationship doesn’t continue then I won’t speak with any other coaches until Prandelli’s departure is made official,” Abete told Sky Sport. “There is no truth in the thinking that we are looking for a new coach. The Cesare Prandelli rumours are without foundation,” said Juventus general manager Giuseppe Marotta in response to the rumours linking Juventus with a move for Cesare Prandelli after the World Cup.

LJAJIC WARNED

Fiorentina manager Vincenzo Montella has said that striker Adem Ljajic faces the risk of not being in the first-team in the coming campaign if he does not sort out his future. The youngster is out of contract in just 12 months. He has so far not accepted the offer of an extension from the club. The club owner Andrea Della Valle recently said that the player could be placed in the transfer market if he does not extend his contract. The club do not want to lose out on the player’s value, which could be nil in just 12 months. Continue reading LJAJIC WARNED

ITALY DOMINATE SPAIN

Italy managed to completely dominate world champions Spain in the recent match at the Confederations cup, which earned them the praise of Spanish manager Vicente del Bosque. It was only a year ago when Spain managed by Italy 4-0 in the final of the Euro 2012. Italian manager Cesare Prandelli said prior to the match that the hurtful defeat was still in their minds. Perhaps, it motivated them to play the game of their lives after they dominated a very strong Spanish team that has won all the major titles in the last five years.

However, they were made to pay for their poor finishing because Spain once again emerged victorious. The penalty shootout victory was confirmed after new Manchester city signing Jesus Navas put the ball past Gianluigi Buffon. After the match, though, Vicente del Bosque praised the Spanish team by saying that they were extremely hard-working and full of quality. He said that the Spanish team could simply not keep up with the Italians on the night and we were lucky to come out with a victory. As a result of the win, Spain will now be facing Brazil in the final of the competition.

Spain failed to win the Confederations cup last time around, and they will be facing the current holders.

“Emanuele Giaccherini was very impressive, as was Christian Maggio and naturally Andrea Pirlo. Cesare Prandelli deserves credit for speeding up their play down the wings with Maggio and Giaccherini, as their runs put Spain under real pressure. Alberto Gilardino had a fantastic game, he was constantly shaking off markers and holding up the ball for his teammates. He ensured Mario Balotelli was not missed,” said the Spanish manager after the match. The match finished 0-0 after extra time and Spain managed to win 7-6 on penalties.

MESSI IS ONLY ONE

Roma striker Francesco Totti has said that only the Argentine, Lionel Messi, is better than him. The 36-year-old recently completed 20 years playing for Roma after making a debut as a 16-year-old two decades ago. During this period, Totti has established himself as one of the important players at not only Roma, but also at the international level as well. He has not been playing with the Italian national team for the last few years.

Totti has said that he is only below Lionel Messi when it comes to football ability, in his mind. He has said that he would not place any Italian footballer above him. Totti has acknowledged the fact that people may point to the statistics in order to prove him otherwise. Despite the presence of several great players at Roma over the years, Totti has managed to establish himself as one of the legends of the club. The one club man has recently said that he is ready to sign a new contract with the club. The 36-year-old will soon be out of contract at Roma, and he has said that he cannot sees himself playing elsewhere.

Totti has also praised the talent of the AC Milan striker, Mario Balotelli, by saying that he is capable of becoming one of the greatest in the game.

“There is only one player who is doing things that I could never do and that is Messi. I do not think there is an Italian footballer who I would place above myself in the list, though. The numbers speak for themselves. I would say that he can become a phenomenon, but it all depends on his attitude and his behaviour. It’s about the things you do outside the pitch, too,” said the 36-year-old in a recent interview. He has 11 goals in 26 appearances this season.