Thursday Jan 21, 2021  
  05/12/2011: The Bite - "On The Up... "
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This evening the lads take on Novara, a win will keep the Biancocelesti in the race for a Champions League place, after finishing fifth last season, to end the campaign lower than that will be seen as a disappointing season.
It has been good to be back playing in a European competition, but it could so easily have been the big one, had it not been for a couple of sloppy results. Europa League progression hangs in the balance, this group should have been easy enough, but it was not a great start and now the Eagles see themselves having to beat Sporting to have any real chance of progressing.
Whilst the group stages are seen as inconvenient, the trip to Romania was not ideal but Edy Reja will want his team to progress, a clear sign of this was that he picked Djibril Cisse and Miroslav Klose up front - Once you get to the knockout stages anything can happen.
The squad saw Fernando Muslera head to Turkish side Galatasaray after his contract talks had broken down and Claudio Lotito rightfully decided to cash-in, his replacement was Federico Marchetti who had been frozen out at Cagliari, after he had requested to move to a bigger club. The big keeper is international class and represented Italy in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, whilst I really liked Muslera, I felt that he made too many mistakes – I think that we now have a safer pair of hands at the bank.
The move to bring in Klose and Cisse was inspirational, yes the latter is going through a goal drought, but there is no doubt he is a class player. As for the Polish born German international, he is looking more like a player in his mid-20s rather than his actual 33 years. Klose’s play off the ball is excellent and he is very composed in front of goal, and finds himself as one of Serie A’s top scorers.
Losing Stephan Lichtsteiner to Juventus was a blow, whilst the €10 million was nice, we are missing him. His replacement was Abdoulay Konko, is a decent player but not as good as Lichtsteiner and someone who I find frustrating – He attacks well and gets into good positions, but fails to deliver a decent final ball, which he needs to get better at and soon.
Senad Lulić started slowly but has grown on me, after his first couple of months at the club I struggled to see what he brought to the team – Again, like Konko he was geting into good positions but could not seem to get his crosses in the air. It seems like that was just teething problems, because he has upped his game, now beats players, gets dangerous crosses in and has scored some goals.
The team are doing well in the league, proving last year was not just a one-year wonder, and this has a lot to do with Hernanes who is instrumental in midfield – teams are closing him down a lot more this season, which means he is not scoring as many but still looks a threat in most games and whilst extra bodies are needed to cover him, it leaves others players free.
A win tonight is very important so we close the gap on Udinese, and open up a five-point gap on fifth placed Napoli. It is only two weeks until Udinese travel to Stadio Olimpico, for the evening match – If the lads can win tonight, as well as the away match against Lecce next Saturday and then get a result against the Northern Italians then we should be in an excellent position going into the Christmas break.

There are obvious positives to winning against Novara, but a cheeky bonus is that it will put the team eight points ahead of the side that shares our stadium, after they went down 3-0 to Viola and ended up with only eight men on the field.

(Scott Balaam)
Twitter: @scottbalaam
Ed 12/6/2011 8:19:58 PM
I think you forget how many time Lichti got in a good position only to scre up his cross - Konko is no better or worse in that respect. We have long had a clear weakness in crossing balls either from open play or from corners and free-kicks. None of our players seem to be able to bea the first man in most instances. If we had some players with great delivery then think how many goals Klose could be getting with his awesome aerial ability...
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