Serie A champions

Juventus wasted no time prodding the hornets’ nest. No sooner had they been confirmed as Serie A champions, than staff began handing out bottles of champagne labelled No. 30 – a figure representing how many league titles the club would have won, had two of them not been revoked as a result of the Calciopoli scandal. Last Wednesday saw an enormous Scudetto badge pasted onto the Juventus Stadium bearing three gold stars – each one representing 10 titles.

For the Italian Football Federation, Juventus’ triumph represented a double-edged sword. Arguments of this nature had been inevitable from the moment that verdicts were handed down in 2006, but for the club to adopt such a defiant position represented an open challenge to the federation’s authority. Putting that aside, however, history suggests the people running the national team should never be sad to see Juventus at the fore in an international tournament year.
Including that contentious 2006 Scudetto, three of Italy’s four World Cup triumphs have come in years when Juventus were crowned champions. The team-sheets from each of those tournaments show it to be anything but a coincidence.

In 1934, Vittorio Pozzo’s squad contained nine members of a Juventus team celebrating their fourth consecutive title; it counted five of those – Giampiero Combi, Giovanni Ferrari, Luis Monti, Mumo Orsi and Luigi Bertolini – as regular starters. At Spain ’82, Enzo Bearzot relied similarly heavily on a team which had just claimed its 20th Scudetto – selecting Dino Zoff, Antonio Cabrini, Gaetano Scirea, Marco Tardelli and Paolo Rossi in every game. Claudio Gentile missed only the semi-final, for which he was suspended.

Most recently, in 2006, Marcello Lippi used five Juventus players – Gigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluca Zambrotta and Alessandro Del Piero – during Italy’s final win over France. Indeed, with three of the club’s players – Lilian Thuram, Patrick Vieira and David Trezeguet – also featuring for the opposition that day, the whole fixture might have been read as one great act of defiance against those who suggested they had not won the Scudetto on merit.

In a sense it is no surprise Juventus players should play such a key role for the national side, as the club have been (by some distance) the most successful in the history of Serie A, regardless of whether you count the 2005 and 2006 titles. But it is also true that they have always relied more heavily on domestic talent than other leading Italian sides. Juventus players have totalled 2,033 appearances for Italy since the national team’s inception; Inter have the second-most with 1,368.

It is a trend that was evident during Marcello Lippi’s second stint in charge of the Azzurri. The manager was criticised for spending so much time at Juventus’ training ground and so little at that of then-champions Inter, when in reality the latter had few players who were even eligible for selection.

Lippi would eventually bow out having overseen what Gazzetta dello Sport described as “the darkest and most terrible day in our football history”, with the 2010 tournament in South Africa seeing Italy fail to win a single game at the World Cup for the first time in their history. The manager had become increasingly cold and intransigent in his approach; his commitment to ageing players who had served him well in 2006, along with a refusal to even countenance a recall for Antonio Cassano, earning him widespread opprobrium.

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AC Milan will miss suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic

LONDON. AC Milan will miss suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the clash of the season so far in Italy when the Rosseneri faces Juventus at San Siro on Saturday evening.

– Milan will miss Zlatan and the odds on them to win, 2.20, reflect that, says Dan Vikman, PR Manager at online bookmaker Betclic.com.

Serie A teams are marching on in the Champions League with both AC Milan and Napoli on the verge of knocking-out English giants Arsenal and Chelsea respectively.

In the domestic league, all eyes will be on the top of the table clash this weekend when Juventus travel to Milan, with Juve trailing Milan by a point but with a game in hand.

This is a potential title decider between two of the biggest rivals in Italy. The temperature has risen even more with the handling of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s suspension.

The towering Swede, who orchestrated the 4-0 thrashing of Arsenal at San Siro a fortnight ago, is suspended for three matches after slapping Napoli’s Salvatore Aronica in a match on February 5. Milan appealed against the ban hoping to have one match taken off, but the Italian Football Federation didn’t lift the ban, meaning Ibrahimovic will miss the titanic clash.

– Ibrahimovic has been in great form in recent weeks and of course him being out increases Juventus chances to do something at San Siro, continues Dan Vikman at Betclic.com.

Juventus pays 3.25 while the draw is offered at 3.20 at Betclic.com. Milan will most likely use Robinho and Pato as strikers and are still missing Kevin-Prince Boateng and Clarence Seedorf due to injuries.

Juve, with the best defensive record in Serie A, will aim to close down Milan’s attacks where Pato pays 5.50 in odds if he scores first in the match.

Vucinic is priced at 7.50 if he would score first in the game for Juventus.

What’s your pick?

Odds from Betclic.com:

Milan 2,20 X 3,20 Juventus 3,25

First goalscorer

Milan

Pato 5,50

Maxi Lopez 6,00

Robinho 6,50

Stephan El Shaarawy 8,00

Antonio Nocerino 10,00

Urby Emanuelson 15,00

Sulley Muntari 16,00

Massimo Ambrosini 18,00

Djamel Mesbah 20,00

Mark Van Bommel 20,00

Juventus

Alessandro Matri 6,50

Alessandro Del Piero 7,00

Mirko Vucinic 7,50

Fabio Quagliarella 8,00

Marco Borriello 8,00

Claudio Marchisio 10,00

Simone Pepe 10,00

Emanuele Giaccherini 12,00

Arturo Vidal 15,00

Andrea Pirlo 16.00

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Betclic works with brand ambassadors such as Marcel Desailly,

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Deze week: voetbal!

2012 is begonnen. Hoewel de meeste Europese clubcompetities nog stil liggen heeft Unibet in de tweede week van het nieuwe jaar genoeg te bieden. In Engeland en Spanje wordt alvast lekker verder gevoetbald, en Unibet is erbij met live quoteringen en streams.

Vanavond zijn er live quoteringen voor Arsenal – Leeds United in de FA Cup. Dat geldt ook voor het midweekse programma in de Spaanse Copa del Rey, met o.a. op dinsdagavond Real Madrid – Malaga en op donderdag Barcelona – Osasuna. In Italie wordt er ook gebekerd: Roma – Fiorentina en Napoli – Cesena staan voor woensdagavond op de kalender.

In het weekend gaan de Serie A, de Premier League en de Primera Division verder. Streams zijn er van de Spaanse competitie. Op het programma staan Mallorca – Madrid, Sevilla – Espanyol, Barcelona – Betis en Gijon – Malaga. Live quoteringen zijn er voor de Premier League, met als grootste affiches Manchester United – Bolton, Swansea – Arsenal, Wigan – Manchester City en Tottenham Hotspur – Wolverhampton Wanderers. Daarnaast zijn er ook beelden uit de Franse Ligue 1 en de Schotse Premier League!

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