Previewing the Derby d’Italia

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It was officially announced yesterday, that the Derby d’Italia will be played behind closed doors on Sunday, March 8th at 3:45 pm Eastern Time. This means that there will be no fans attending the match. However, despite that, it’s still going to be such a crucial match. So, here’s my article previewing the Derby d’Italia!

Inter Milan

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The season is mostly finished and Inter has definitely looked better than the last several seasons. However, recently their form has dipped. In their last five Serie A matches, they’ve won two matches, they’ve lose two matches and drew a match. That form has led them to go down in the table. Currently, they sit third in Serie A. If Inter are to win this match, I’d advise Conte to not play the 3-5-2. Unfortunately, their wingbacks are vulnerable defensively, which will make this formation very tough to implement. Especially, against a side such as Juve. I’d also advise Conte to start Christian Eriksen in this match.

Juventus

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Juve fans like myself will find it tough to complement Juve’s season so far. They’ve looked a bit shaky. However, in Serie A, they’ve had a pretty good season through the majority of it. They’re one point clear at the top of the table. Their form hasn’t been superb in the league lately, as they’ve won three out of their last five matches. If I were to give advise to Maurizio Sarri, it’d be to implement the 4-3-1-2 for this match. Unfortunately, Juve doesn’t seem to have good enough wingers going forward to play the 4-3-3. In my opinion, I think the 4-3-1-2 works for them, as they’ve looked more fluid going forward.

Match Prediction

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Based on this match being played behind closed doors, the Derby d’Italia will definitely be different this time around. Juve won’t be about to feed off the energy of the crowd, as they do with most matches they play at the Allianz Stadium. Just because of that, I think it’ll be a 1-1 draw. Whatever the result, get ready for the popcorn. It should be awesome!

Previewing Lazio Against Inter

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There are a lot of matches over the course of the Serie A season that are crucial. However, this one probably tops all of them so far. Both Inter and Lazio are competing in a tight scudetto race and this could be a deciding match in it. So, here’s the article of me previewing Lazio against Inter.

Lazio

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Coming into this match, Lazio are among the scudetto contenders. I assume that pundits and fans can’t believe it. However, they have the potential to win the Scudetto, for sure. Everything has been working out for them this season. Immobile is Serie A’s leading scorer with 25 goals thus far. His partner in crime, Joaquin Correa is doing decent as well. Things have definitely fallen in to place for them. Heading into this match, they’re undefeated in their last 5 league matches. Indeed, if they play as they have for the better part of the season, Inter will have a very difficult match on their hands. Consider, Lazio is playing Inter at the Stadio Olimpico as well.

Inter

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For Inter, this season has definitely been a good one so far. Yes, many expected them to be scudetto contenders this season. But, I don’t know who thought they’d make the title race this tight. Antonio Conte has definitely got the best out of his squad. Their defence and midfield are great sights to watch. Even, upfront both Lautaro Martinez and Romelu lukaku are having tremendous seasons. That striker duo has combined for 28 goals so far this season, which is very surprising. Coming into this match, they’ve been undefeated in the last 5 matches. However, out of those 5 matches, they’ve only got 2 wins. However, one thing is for sure and that’s the fact that this match will probably be Inter’s biggest challenge so far this season.

Top 5 Players That Have Played For Both Milan Clubs

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This weekend, there will be a huge derby. That derby is between Milan giants, AC Milan and Inter. Historically, they’re definitely some of the greatest football clubs in the world. Many legendary players have also decided to play for both clubs. As a result, I’ve decided to write an article on the top 5 players that have played for both Inter and AC Milan. Enjoy!

5. Christian Vieri

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Christian Vieri was probably one of the strongest and most physical strikers of all-time. His power combined with his finishing ability and eye for goal was an enjoyment to watch. He also played for both Inter and AC Milan. He spent 6 years at Inter from 1999-2005 and won a Coppa Italia trophy. He only spent a season at AC Milan. However, it was in 2005-2006, which was when his playing career was almost over. Nonetheless, he’s a legend and played for both of these legendary teams.

4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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Despite, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s often arrogant remarks to the press, you can’t deny he’s a legendary player. Even, at the age of 38, he plays for AC Milan and looks sharp on the pitch. He may not have the athletic ability that he used to, but he still dazzles on the field. Also, he’s played for both of these legendary clubs. His trophy haul for both clubs has been immense as well. During Ibrahimovic’s three seasons at Inter, he won three Serie A titles and two Italian Supercup trophies. Also, in two full seasons at AC Milan, he’s won two trophies. Like I mentioned earlier, he still plays for AC Milan as well.

3. Andrea Pirlo

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When Andrea Pirlo played it was like he was an actual magician. His playmaking, as well as his passing abilities, were world-class. It took a while for his retirement to sink-in for me when it became official in 2017. He won so many trophies over the course of his career as well. He only played two seasons for Inter and didn’t win any trophies. However, he spent a good portion of his career at AC Milan, 10 seasons to be exact. During that time, he established himself as a world-class player. During his time at AC Milan, he won a total of ten trophies, which included two Serie A and Champions League titles.

2. Roberto Baggio

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Roberto Baggio is considered by many to be among the greatest Italian football players of all-time. He nearly perfected so many faucets of the beautiful game. He was a world-class dribbler as well as being a great goalscorer. While a good portion of his career was spent at Juve, he also spent a couple of seasons at Inter and AC Milan. He only won one trophy combined for both Milan clubs. Despite that, he is definitely an all-time great in Italian football.

1. Ronaldo Luis Nazario De Lima

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Ronaldo Nazario De Lima is considered one of the top football players of all-time. He was probably the most well-rounded striker of all-time, at least in my view. He could do it all. Despite him not winning a Champions League trophy, he was still a very likeable and world-class player. It’s common knowledge for many football fans that he played for both Inter and AC Milan. He spent five seasons at Inter and only two seasons at AC Milan. Some would even say that he established himself as an all-time great, whilst at Inter. There’s no doubt he made a huge mark for both clubs as well as football in general. That’s why I’ve decided to put him at number one.

What to Make of Inter’s New Signing, Ashley Young

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I have to admit that when I first heard the news that Inter would sign Ashley Young, I didn’t agree with it. However, as I started thinking about it, I realized he’s actually a decent signing for Inter. So, this may actually work out in Inter’s favour in the end. Here’s why signing Ashley Young may be beneficial for Inter this season.

WHY WILL ASHLEY YOUNG FIT INTO INTER’s SYSTEM OF PLAY?

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Like many, I thought that Inter signing Ashley Young would be ridiculous, considering his age. However, he has way more to offer than that. Right now under Antonio Conte, Interplays very tight and for the most part, their defenders lack speed and the ability to create in open play. Fortunately, Ashley Young can do that. He’ll provide an extra bit of creativity to Inter when they’re trying to create offence from the back. Ashley Young is fairly fast and is also a decent crosser of the ball, so, he’ll provide that extra boost inter needs going forward. That provides balance to this Inter side that doesn’t have many players at the back who can go forward with the ball as he can. There’s no doubt, Inter being tight at the back has worked for the most part under Antonio Conte. However, in modern calcio, a club needs defenders who can provide decent service going forward. The only drawback of Ashley Young other than his age is his vulnerability defensively. However, if he buys into Antonio Conte’s system, he should enjoy his time at Inter Milan.

WILL SIGNING ASHLEY YOUNG INCREASE INTER’s CHANCES OF WINNING THE SCUDETTO?

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I’m sure the biggest question that many Serie A fans are asking is whether Ashley Young can help Inter win the scudetto. I definitely think that if Ashley Young buys into Conte’s system, he’ll be of great assistance to Inter. The question here though is whether Ashley Young’s signing will actually increase their chances of winning the scudetto. Personally, I don’t think he’ll increase Inter’s chances of winning Italy’s most coveted prize. I believe he’s a good player, however, I don’t believe he’s a gamechanger. Maybe, ManU or even Inter fans will read this article and think that I’m completely wrong, which may be true. However, in my opinion, he’s not the calibre of play to instantly increase Inter’s chances of winning the Scudetto. He may provide balance to their very tactical squad, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll make the ultimate difference for them. However, I’m curious to see whether he makes a bigger impact on Inter than I think he will. We’ll begin to see the scope of his impact tomorrow at 9 am Eastern Time, when Inter squares off with Lecce.

Ways Serie A Clubs Can Increase Their Attendance at Stadiums

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Serie A is a very attractive league to watch. However, in regards to attendance numbers at stadiums, it’s still behind other top football leagues such as the EPL (England Premier League) and the Bundesliga. So, I decided that it’d be a good idea to compare the EPL’s average attendance numbers to Serie A’s numbers. Also, I want to write about ways Serie A clubs can increase their attendance at stadiums. So, let’s get it done!

EPL’s AVERAGE STADIUM CAPACITY AND ATTENDANCE NUMBERS THIS SEASON

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To start off, I got each individual club’s stats from https://www.soccerstats.com in order to write this article. Then, added the numbers from each club. After that, once I got the total numbers from each league, I divided it up by the number of clubs that are in each league. That’s how I was able to get the average attendance, stadium capacity, and the average percentage of seats being filled from both leagues. From my calculations, so far this season, the average number of fans that are attending EPL matches this season is approximately 39,295. The average capacity of English Premier League stadiums close to 40, 546 people. Finally, the average percentage of each stadium in England’s top-flight that has been filled this season is 96.6%.

SERIE A’s AVERAGE STADIUM CAPACITY AND ATTENDANCE NUMBERS THIS SEASON

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To calculate Serie As average attendance and stadium capacity numbers, I used the same method as I did above. Serie As average numbers in these categories are lower, which means they need to improve. So, here are the numbers. Based on what I calculated from the https://www.soccerstats.com website, Serie As average stadium capacity is approximately 39, 331 people. Also, Serie A’s average attendance so far this season is about 26, 641 attendees. To cap off Serie A’s average attendance and capacity numbers, approximately, 71.7% of the league’s stadium capacities have been filled.

SO HOW CAN SERIE A CLUBS INCREASE THEIR ATTENDANCE NUMBERS?

1. BUILD NEWER STADIUMS/RENOVATE OLDER ONES

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This solution is a very difficult one to implement, as it would have to go through a lot of political barriers as well as major planning. Also, some club owners would be hesitant just because there are a lot of costs associated with this. Permits, building costs, and more would be part of those costs. However, in the long-term, I believe that it would attract more fans to attend Serie A stadiums each week. Personally, if I were to go to any Serie A stadium, it’d be a dream. However, some fans would love to go to stadiums that are newer and aren’t crumbling apart. One of the big factors as to why Stadiums in the EPL have a high number of fans attending their matches each week is because of a lot of stadiums being newly built or renovated.

2. ELIMINATE THREATS OF VIOLENT AND DISCRIMINATORY BEHAVIOUR WITHIN THE STADIUMS

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Unfortunately, sometimes Serie A gets a bad reputation because of some people within the stadium who look to cause physical violence as well as displaying discriminatory behaviour towards fans as well as players. Serie A needs to crackdown on people who display this type of behaviour in the stadium because first of all, it’s wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated at all. We are all human beings who shouldn’t be threatened by violence or discriminated against in any shape or form. Second of all, if fans feel that they’re in danger by going to a stadium and watching their team play, it’ll result in them not wanting to go. Therefore, Serie A needs to crack down on these types of actions within stadiums.

References:

https://www.soccerstats.com/attendance.asp?league=italy

https://www.soccerstats.com/attendance.asp?league=england

The Most Impressive Clubs So Far This Season in Serie A

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Like every season, there’s been several surprises so far. However, it seems as though there has been more surprisingly overachieving clubs than usual, this season. Here’s who I think have been the most impressive Serie A clubs, so far this season.

HELLAS VERONA

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Many Serie A fans would’ve thought that coming into this season, Hellas Verona would battle relegation throughout. However, they’ve proved so many wrong and may challenge for a spot in a European competition if they continue like this. They currently sit in ninth in the standings. The interesting part of Hellas Verona is the fact that they don’t possess any notable players. But, they’re getting the job done and that’s what matters the most. Well see if they can avoid a relegation battle throughout the rest of this season.

CAGLIARI

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When Nainggolan was loaned to Cagliari, it seemed as if his biggest motivation was to prove Inter wrong. So far, him and Cagliari are doing just that. Yes, Cagliari sold their star player last season, Nicolo Barella. However, they’re boasting players such as Joao Pedro, Giovanni Simeone, and of course Radja Nainggolan, who are taking the league by storm. Also, they boast some decent veterans such as Ragnar Klavan and Luca Cigarini as well. All in all, they’re a very underrated squad and at this rate, they have a good chance of being in the Europa League next season. They’re also challenging for the Champions League, so watch out for this squad.

LAZIO

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So far, Lazio looks like a very tough club to face. Ciro Immobile has scored the most goals out of all players in Europe’s top 5 leagues, this season. Once again, he is feeling it. They also sit 3rd in the Serie A table and are an exciting club to watch. They play a very offensive style. Also, unlike past seasons, it seems they’ve found a defender who can be a rock for them at the back. Right now, that’s Francesco Acerbi. They also possess Joaquin Correa who plays as a forward. Him and Immobile seem to complement each other’s games. They also a boast a midfield that has the highly touted? Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, as well as Luis Alberto, who is massively underrated. It’ll be tough, however if they can keep being this consistent, we’ll see them in the Champions League next season.

INTER

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Inter has a very good manager in Antonio Conte at their disposal. However, despite that, I predicted they’d finish in third before the season started. But, Inter is definitely proving me wrong by a wide-margin. Antonio Conte has gotten this squad to play how he wants them to already. Also, although Barella and Sensi are currently injured, they’ve been a massive part of this midfield that has dominated many other Serie A sides. Upfront, with Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, they’ve been pretty good, as well. That midfield is a big part of it, in my opinion. Not to take away either from Martinez or Lukaku, but the service that midfield has provided to those two is a big part of why they’re playing tremendously right now. As for their backline, nothing needs to be said. Many expected that backline to be a wall and it has lived up to that, so far. We’ll see if they’re able to get enough points to win Serie A’s iron throne this season. One thing is for sure, it’ll be a tough fight, but one they’re winning as of now.

3 Takeaways From Last Weekend’s Serie A Action

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Like usual, this past weekend of Serie A matches were amazing! As a result of the matches this past weekend, there were two managers fired, as well. This made this past weekend’s fixtures seem even more fascinating. So, here are 3 of my takeaways from last weekend’s Serie A matches!

 

1. JUVE SHOWED WHY THEY’VE KEEP WINNING THE SERIE A TITLE WHEN THEY FACED INTER.

 

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This past weekend, Juve were victors in the Derby D’Italia, beating Inter 2-1. However, this match demonstrated why they’ve won the scudetto 8 consecutive times. Not only did they get the job done, but they dominated such a big match in the Serie A. I’ve had my doubts about Maurizio Sarri ever since he got appointed to be the manager of the bianconeri. However, it seems as though the squad is beginning to learn how to fit within his system. In my view, Juve’s defence still needs work. However, Bonucci looks as though he is becoming comfortable with leading that backline. Despite, Juve’s key injuries, they don’t look like they’re missing a beat, whatsoever.

2. SAMPDORIA NEED TO GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER QUICKLY

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Last season, Sampdoria seemed like they had so much upside under Giampaolo. Then, he left and they appointed Eusebio Di Francesco. I must admit that before the season started, I had written a blog post that mentioned Sampdoria as being underrated with Di Francesco as their manager. However, I was completely wrong and instead, he was a bust at Sampdoria. After, only leading Sampdoria to one win in his seven matches on the touchline, it was inevitable that he’d be sacked and he was. Now, Sampdoria will need to get back to how they played last season if they want to finish in a mid-table spot by the end of the season. They will need to fix their issues fast, as they are currently on track to be relegated to Serie B by the end of this season.

3. AC MILAN WON AGAINST GENOA, BUT GIAMPAOLO IS NO LONGER THEIR MANAGER

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AC Milan has now gone through 8 different managers in 5 years as a result of this sacking. The weird part is that AC Milan’s upper-management decided to sack Giampaolo after they won against Genoa last Saturday. However, it is not surprising, as AC Milan’s upper-management seems to not have had patience with their managers over the past several seasons. I understand that under Giampaolo, AC Milan were performing way below par, but they should’ve given him more time to implement his philosophy with the squad. However, the club’s board has clearly not possessed patience for a while, in regards to the managers they’ve hired. As a result, they are a mess and all I will say to AC Milan’s new manager is good luck because whoever it is, will need a ton of it.

 

 

Predicting How Well Italian Clubs Will Do in the Champions League This Season

For those who don’t know, this should turn out to be an exciting season for Serie A clubs in the Champions League!  It will make for an exciting season for calcio fans and hopefully, we’ll see all four Serie A clubs in the semifinals of the Champions League. However, based on my predictions for each of them, that’s unlikely. So, here is how I think the Serie A clubs will do in the Champions League this season!

   1. INTER MILAN 

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Inter will be playing their first Champions League match this season against Slavia Prague today at 12:55 pm Eastern Time. When Inter fans and members of the club envisioned who would be in their group, no one anticipated that they’d be in the group of death. Indeed, Lionel Messi will return to the San Siro for the second consecutive year to face Inter. Inter is also joined by Borussia Dortmund and Slavia Prague in this group, making it very tough to get through to the round of 16. In all honesty, I predict that Inter will finish third in the group, as they will be with two clubs in Dortmund and Barcelona that are juggernauts in Europe and it may be too much for this Inter side. However, they could definitely surprise many people.

2. NAPOLI

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While, Napoli were in a favorable position before the draw began, I don’t think they could’ve anticipated an easier group on paper than they’ve gotten. Make no mistake, no Champions League match is simple, but the group Napoli got dealt is one of the most simple they could’ve gotten. Yes, they’re with the 2019 Champions League winners, Liverpool. But, other than that, they’re with Genk and Red Bull Salzburg. Considering, Napoli’s group as well as the fact that they made some key signings over the summer in Hirving Lozano, Kostas Manolas, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t get in second place in the group and get through to the knockout phase of the competition. Their first match will be later today against Liverpool at 3 pm Eastern Time.

3. JUVENTUS

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Juventus shocked their fans with some of the moves they made in the summer. Many fans were left scratching their heads with some of those moves or lack of moves that weren’t made. However, that’s all behind us and the season has started. They’ve been drawn in a decent group with Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, and Lokomotiv Moscow. I predict that Juve should get through to the round of 16 in second in this group. However, the sky is the limit for this club if they play at their best. Not even the beasts at Atletico Madrid can stop them. Their first Champions League match will take place at 3 pm Eastern Time on Wednesday!

4. ATALANTA 

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Atalanta will make their first ever Champions League appearance on Wednesday at 3 pm Eastern time against Dinamo Zagreb. They got drawn into a group with Manchester City, Shakhtar donetsk, and Dinamo Zagreb. Based on their position heading into the draw, it was inevitable that they’d be drawn into a tough group. This will be a very tough group for Atalanta, but the good thing is they don’t have high expectations heading into this competition, so it might actually work in their favor. I predict that they’ll finish in second in their group behind Man City. I hope they demonstrate their quality in this group, as I feel their an underrated club coming into competition. They could very well make some noise this season.

I’ve predicted three out of the four Serie A clubs in the Champions League this season to qualify for the champions League round of 16. But, hopefully it’s all four clubs!

 

 

Previewing Inter Milan vs. Lecce

Every other Serie A club will play on both Saturday and Sunday except for Inter Milan and Lecce. However, this match should be intriguing like the rest and is worth previewing. So, here is the preview of this Monday’s match for both clubs.

    Inter 

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       Image Credit: sempreinter.com

     Over the last couple of months, Inter has vastly transformed itself in terms of their manager, as well as some of their players. Before the summer transfer window, Inter hired the always animated, Antonio Conte, to be their man behind the bench. For many, this marks a change from Inter’s recent years, as Conte expects the best out of his players and doesn’t take any nonsense. Also, Inter have vastly transformed their player personnel on the field, too. First off, they’ve sold a key player in Radja Nainggolan and loaned out Ivan Perisic to Bayern Munich. They’ve also given Mauro Icardi, who was their star striker for many seasons, the number 7 to wear. Inter have signed some good players in Diego Godin, Stefano Sensi, Nicolo Barella, and Romelu Lukaku over the course of the summer, as well. As a result of these changes, many within the nerazzuri fan base expect them to compete for the scudetto this season. Monday at the Stadio San Siro against Lecce will be a good test for them to begin to see if they’re capable of winning Italy’s coveted prize this season.

                                                                             Lecce 

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        For Lecce’s fans and people who work for the club, this upcoming season may be very memorable. The club has been through trouble, as they’ve had to win promotion from Serie C (Italy’s third division) to Serie B (Italy’s second division) in the 2017-2018 season. Then, they finally got promoted to Serie A for this season. It will be very exciting for this club to be in Italy’s top flight once again, considering the struggle they’ve went through in recent years. However, they haven’t been very active in the summer transfer market. But, that is understandable considering they’re a newly promoted side.  Their first match will see them travel to Milan to face an Inter side that could challenge for this season’s scudetto. It’ll be a very steep test for this newly promoted club. However, they don’t have much expectations coming into this season, so they could very well catch Inter off guard. There is no doubt that they cannot miss a beat on Monday, if they’re going to get something out of it. However, sometimes low expectations can help clubs more than they hurt them.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Inter Buying Lukaku

 

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For a few years, Antonio Conte has really wanted to sign Lukaku. At Chelsea, they missed out on him when Conte was there. Luckily, Conte got his man during this summer. It’ll definitely be something to see. I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of signing Lukaku.

 

                     DISADVANTAGES 

                   Lukaku’s First Touch 

     For those who have watched Lukaku ever since he made his debut, it’s obvious that his first touch of the ball after receiving a pass is average at the professional level, if that. Antonio Conte will have to find a system where his players feed the ball to Lukaku in a way where he doesn’t have his first touch weakness exposed. In other words, long balls on the counter are not advised, considering this weakness.

                  Lukaku’s Ability to Track Back 

      When watching the beautiful game, many people neglect the fact that strikers have to track back and defend once they don’t have possession of the ball. A big weakness of Lukaku is his ability to do this very thing. Antonio Conte’s system requires and pushes players upfront to track back. Antonio Conte will have to motivate Romelu Lukaku to do this more. If Lukaku does that, he’ll definitely be a threat to any opposition.

 

    ADVANTAGES 

     Lukaku’s Pace 

       One thing that people tend to forget about Lukaku is just how fast he really is. For a striker of his size and stature,it’s really impressive that he can run as fast as he can. He’s able to run in behind defenders and reek havoc on any back-line once he actually receives a good pass from his teammates. That’ll definitely be a huge asset for him heading into the Serie A season.

        Lukaku’s Physicality 

     Lukaku may not score the prettiest goals, but his strength and size allows him to out muscle most defenders, especially in the 18-yard box. His physicality allows him to the dirtier areas, which helps him score goals. When  he is attempting a header inside the box, it looks as though he was born to head the ball in the back of the net, as he out muscles defenders for those types of goals.

 

 

All in all, I think that Lukaku will do well in the nerazzuri colours, as he has the assets to do well for them. For Antonio Conte and Lukaku’s teammates, it’ll be a matter of getting the best out of him.