Tuesday, October 7 th, 2014
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Football migranti: Pellé insatiable for goals; Balotelli and Immobile apprentice, Cerci bench-warmer
How was the matchday for our footballers abroad? Apart from Marco Verratti, who is completely integrated at PSG, only Graziano Pellé can be satisfied, as he scored his second goal in Premier League
by Anthony Pepe
Welcome to our new feature "football migranti". Due to the large number of Italian players plying their trade away from the Italian peninsula, in all of Europe’s big leagues, we have decided to bring you a round-up of their club performances.

Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini. Liverpool vs Aston Villa 0-1. Mario Balotelli had a mixed second start for new club Liverpool, he started the game with atypical hard running and pressing (attributes which are crucial for manager Brendan Rogers) and while his off the ball movement was better than we have become recently acquainted with, it doesn’t yet match the effort of teammates Sturridge or Sterling last season. This will likely come in time as he gets to know his new colleagues. Ultimately it was a frustrating afternoon for Mario; he was unable to score but did link up well on occasion with the other forwards but the game was most marked by the targeting of Balotelli by the Aston Villa defenders. Philippe Senderos (very lucky to not have received a red card) twice kicked the legs of Balotelli while the ref’s back was turned, once egregiously and Alan Hutton stuck his studs into Balotelli’s knee. As manager Brendan Rogers said, shrugging off the incident, “it’s a man’s game” and Balotelli will have to reacquaint himself with this style of football. He was replaced in the last twenty minutes by Fabio Borini, who was worse than anonymous, misusing the few balls that came to his feet. Borini was celebrating having stayed at Liverpool but will need to perform to a much higher standard if he wishes to threaten the first team in any way.

Graziano Pellé, Southampton vs Newcastle 4-0. Staying in the EPL and Southampton’s big summer signing from Feyenoord (and Dani Osvaldo’s replacement) Graziano Pellè scored his first league goals for the club. He had got off the mark against Millwall in the League Cup but has now got two goals in the league after scoring a brace against Newcastle United. Pellè was lucky to play against such a welcoming defence and helped himself to a towering header and an easy finish after a fortuitous one-two with fellow new signing from the Eredivisie, Dušan Tadić. Pellè, rightly in my opinion, spoke last season saying he should be considered for the Nazionale; if he continues scoring in England then Antonio Conte cannot refuse to at least look, considering he picks Emanuele Giaccherini, who barely plays for the much weaker Sunderland and Pellè is Italy’s only real option as a big target man (he is 1.93m or 6 ft 4 in tall).

Vito Mannone and Emanuele Giaccherini, Sunderland vs Tottenham 2-2. Sunderland have two Italian players: goalkeeper Vito Mannone and the aforementioned Giaccherini. Despite competition from new signing Costel Pantilimon, Mannone remains first choice between the sticks and only conceded two goals from the onslaught of Tottenham. Giaccherini came on in the 65th minute and positively influenced Sunderland’s play; he created chances and gave fluidity to the team from a similar central midfield role to that concocted by Conte in Italy’s victory over Norway. Giaccherini is clearly good enough to be a started for Sunderland and it has been frustrating to see him so often left out, hopefully he can start to impose himself on the team.

Ciro Immobile, Borussia Dortmund vs Freiburg 3-1. The 2013-2014 Serie A topscorer has not yet managed to get off the mark for new club Borussia Dortmund, he came on in the 64th minute in their league game against Freiburg but was unable to score. Like Balotelli, immobile is still learning a new and very complex system to play in but getting a goal sooner rather than later can only help his integration.

Marco Verratti, PSG-Rennes 1-1. Verratti remains an integral cog in the midfield of French champions PSG, playing the entirety of the 1-1 draw away to Rennes. He was his busy self, tackling, dribbling in deep positions and transitioning the play from back to front. He picked up another yellow card, an aspect of his game which remains immature.

Alessio Cerci, Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid 1-2. Finally, Atlético Madrid new signing Cerci was on the bench for their 2-1 away derby win against the Merengues. Boss Diego Simeone unsurprisingly didn’t wish to throw Cerci into the deepest of deep ends, so Cerci’s debut will have to wait until another day.

Tuesday, September 16 th, 2014
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