Thursday, January 8 th, 2015
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Balotelli, Cerci and Immobile keep languishing abroad
FOOTBALL MIGRANTI Three Italian offensive talents are struggling to find a place in the starting eleven. The best Azzurro at the moment is Graziano Pellé, who has scored 9 goals in 13 games so far
by Shaan Sengupta
Mario Balotelli. Liv vs QPR (3-2), Liv vs R. Madrid (0-3), Liv vs Hull City (0-0), Liv vs Swansea (2-1), Liv vs Newcastle (0-1)
Despite Brendan Rodgers' faith in him, Mario Balotelli has continued to disappoint over the last few weeks. Way too often, he’s ended up being too casual in possession and has failed to show any semblance of urgency even with a gaping goal sitting just six yards away from him, begging to be shot into. His miss against QPR was one for the books and would’ve probably been an even bigger blemish if it wasn’t for Liverpool scraping a 3-2 win right at the end. Despite the horrendous showing, Rodgers kept his faith in him and selected him in the starting line-up against Madrid in their UCL meeting at Anfield, where he failed to impress yet again and was taken off at half-time after his controversial shirt swapping with Pepe. It is highly possible that Rodgers has Bon Jovi’s hit track “Keep the Faith” on repeat in his music player. Balo was in the starting line-up against Hull City and failed to score yet again, despite a better showing compared to previous performances, which is not saying a lot! Against Swansea in the Capital One Cup, he was finally benched by Rodgers and came on only as a substitute in the 79th minute. In what proved to be an Italian Job, he connected with a great cross from Borini to score his first goal in 9 matches and inspired the Reds to a late victory. After the midweek goal, Rodgers opted to restore his faith in “Super” Mario this weekend against Newcastle. With only two shots on goal, he slipped back into his old ways in what was a woeful performance from the entire team. Without Sturridge’s dynamism to complement him, Balotelli and Liverpool’s struggles seem likely to continue and the Reds could find a valid replacement in Serie A.


Ciro Immobile. BVB vs Kӧln (1-2), BVB vs Galatasaray (4-0), BVB vs Hannover 96 (0-1), BVB vs St. Pauli (3-0), BVB vs Bayern Munich (1-2)
It isn’t the best time to be associated with Dortmund in any way right now, with the team languishing in the relegation zone in the second last position in the Bundesliga. This is in part due to the paucity of goals that has afflicted the team after Lewandowski’s departure. Immobile hasn’t had the best of starts and is finding it increasingly harder to get into the starting line-up and even come on as a substitute. Over the last 5 fixtures, he has figured in the starting 11 only twice: against Kӧln and St. Pauli . However, on both occasions, he has found the net which is a good rate, provided the team is winning. As a substitute, Immobile hasn’t had much impact and it seems that Klopp is inclined to favor Adrian Ramos over Immobile. What is surprising is that even in a resounding victory over Galatasaray in the UCL, Immobile didn’t see a single minute of action. Not being selected as even a substitute against Munich clearly demonstrates that Klopp doesn’t consider Immobile an option in big matches. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets any playing time against Galatasaray for the second leg considering the fact that the team’s doing very well in the UCL and has almost ensured qualification from the group.


Graziano Pellé. Southampton vs Sunderland (8-0), Southampton vs Stoke City (1-0), Southampton vs Stoke City (3-2), Southampton vs Hull City (1-0)
Far and away, the best Italian striker at the moment by a mile, Pellé has continued his blistering form for the Saints who are now only 4 points behind league leaders Chelsea. Even though most of the wins and goals have come against relatively easier opposition, the emphatic style in which both Pellé and Southampton have performed, is remarkable. After scoring in his debut for the Azzurri, he netted two and caused all kinds of problems for a beleaguered Sunderland. With two more goals against Stoke City in the Capital One Cup, his total goal tally is now 9 goals in 13 games, a stark contrast to his fellow countrymen migrant Immobile and Balotelli. Going ahead, the tougher schedule in the coming weeks, will prove to be the litmus test for both player and club. Based on his current form though, he will have surely ingratiated himself with Antonio Conte and is likely to be a more regular fixture in the Nazionale line-ups.


Marco Verratti & Thiago Motta. PSG vs Lens (3-1), PSG vs APOEL (1-0), PSG vs Bordeaux (3-0), PSG vs Lorient (2-1).
Verratti and Motta put in consistent displays in the midfield in their Ligue 1 fixtures. However, Verratti and in fact most of PSG had an underwhelming performance against APOEL in their UCL meeting where they were frustrated for the entire game and came away with a win only thanks to Cavani’s late goal. However, they won their last three league games, which must be a welcome change from the 6 out of 12 drawn games.


Alessio Cerci. A.Madrid vs Espanyol (2-0), A.Madrid vs Malmo (5-0), A.Madrid vs Getafe (1-0), A.Madrid vs Cordoba (4-2)
Cerci has been having a very hard time getting into the team even as a substitute, mostly being relegated to the bench and in some cases not even making the squad. In a couple of substitute appearances against Malmo and Getafe, he did quite well in the limited time he got with his directness and incisiveness, and netting a goal from his own rebound against Malmo in the UCL.


Alessandro Del Piero. Delhi Dynamos vs FC Pune City (0-0), Delhi Dynamos vs Atletico de Kolkata (1-1), Delhi Dynamos vs Chennaiyin FC (4-1), Delhi Dynamos vs NE United (0-0), Delhi Dynamos vs FC Goa (1-2)
Del Piero is yet to find the net in his 5 outings for the Delhi Dynamos in the inaugural Indian Super League and in his first Indian game he was even booked for diving. However, in all of his performances, his class has been on full display. Often dropping deep to attract defenders and playing probing through balls to players making runs, he’s fit into the team quite well in a short amount of time. However, he has yet to see a full 90 mins of action, despite him saying that he has it in him to play for a full game.

Monday, November 3 rd, 2014
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