Many had written the Italians off before the tournament had started, but an impressive opening game has shown just what Antonio Conte is all about. While the days of an all-star Italy team are gone (for now), the tactical setup reaffirmed just how good Conte is.
As he looks forward to taking over the helm of the four-time Premier League champions, we look at three players that are top of Conte’s summer shopping list.
Chelsea may have experienced their worst ever season since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, but a number of key players still have the chance of winning a trophy. Both the European Championships and the Copa America start this summer, with six Chelsea stars jetting off either to France or to the USA to take the stage once again.
It’s been a gruelling season for the likes of Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, but to end the summer with silverware would be the perfect tonic before the start of Antonio Conte’s reign at Stamford Bridge. But which players are most likely to get their hands on a trophy?
Liverpool vs Chelsea
English Premier League
Date: 11th May 2016
Time: 20:00 pm BST
Venue: Anfield, Liverpool
In any other normal circumstances a ‘Liverpool vs Chelsea’ fixture at Anfield on the penultimate week of the Premier League would have generated a massive interest among both sets of supporters.
But, then again, this hasn’t been a ‘normal’ Premier League season, isn’t it? Who would have thought Leicester City to win the Premier League? Who would have thought Chelsea to drop out of top four? Crazy.
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We all knew the day had to come at some point but it feels maybe a season too soon, and now certainly two games too soon. With the club remaining as tight-lipped, and tight-pocketed as they have all season, it seems John Terry’s Chelsea career has come to an end.
There’ll be some of us who’ve watched his entire career develop, as he’s grown from his debut as an 18 year old, into our our highest scoring defender, our most successful captain, a leader and yes, ultimately a legend at Chelsea Football Club. There’ll also be some, who remember only JT in our back line. From 2001/02 alongside Desailly and the season where he first wore the captain’s armband, and Mourinho subsequently making him captain in 2004/05, John Terry has been a mainstay in the Chelsea defence, leading us to four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and one UEFA Champions League. Read more »
Date: Saturday 7th May, 2016
Venue: Stadium of Light
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Today’s game sees us travel to the Stadium of Light and after the fun of putting Spurs’ dreams to bed Monday night, it might be difficult for our players to get themselves quite as ‘up’ for this one. The reality is we’re just seeing out the season, having got ourselves as far up the table as we can now. Whilst Hiddink is ‘satisfied’ we haven’t ended up in a relegation dog-fight, the rest of us probably just want to get the season over so we can put it behind us as soon as possible.
For Sunderland, sitting in the relegation places, it’s a different matter. They do have a game in hand over Newcastle and whilst I’m sure most of us would be much happier to see Benitez drop out of the Premier League this season, we won’t be so happy to see our players under perform in quite the way they have all season, after the game they gave us Monday.
Ahead of tomorrow’s game against Sunderland, The Chelsea Blog had a chat with Colin from Salut! Sunderland.
Salut! Sunderland: Welcome back. I think it’s been five years since you sat in the “Who are You?” hot seat and you’ve had a lot better than the present season. It cannot all be Mourinho’s fault. Explain
TCB: Plenty would like to blame our car crash of a season on Mourinho, I can only imagine they have short memories. To blame it on him would suggest the same Jose Mourinho who won three titles with us became a bad manager overnight. In reality, we weren’t great last season and in fact, have needed a proper makeover for longer. Mourinho managed to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, albeit in a poor Premier League season, but it papered over cracks and the club were complacent as a result. The need to freshen up wasn’t recognised and we’ve looked stale all season.
Who knows what happened pre-season but the whole Swansea thing snowballed. Don’t get me wrong, Jose could have handled the situation better but I could see why he’d be furious. Hazard wasn’t injured, what he was, was apathetic. That attitude is something he’s been berated for the entire season, yet Mourinho reacting to it – or rather, reacting to a medic pandering to it – was considered less acceptable. All the denials in the world about player power won’t wash for me though. We still haven’t set the world alight without Mourinho but given the way Guus has managed us, that’s not surprising. Yet the same players who were sliding a bit too close to relegation for comfort, have managed to avoid it.
I recall you were always aloof of that attitude that expects victory in every game, but it must have been a culture shock for Chelsea fans who’ve known only great success
There’s been plenty of toys thrown out of prams, including mine. I’m still clear we’re not entitled to win games, results have to be worked for but expectations have been higher for the last ten years or so and the real shock has been the lack of effort.
How has Guus Hiddink done in sorting out the mess he inherited and what do you feel should be the logical succession?
I think most would say he steadied the ship, I’d say whether that was down to him or the players themselves is debatable. Hiddink hasn’t exerted himself this time and anything he’s perceived to have done is irrelevant the minute Conte walks through the door anyway.
Read the rest here
The 2015/16 season is all over now bar the shouting (and a few FA charges) although in reality, ours was over a lot sooner than most. That’s not to write us off completely though because whilst the football and the attitude of our players have stank for most of the season, Monday night’s second half might just leave us with the faintest glimmer of hope for better days ahead again. I don’t think any of us are naïve enough to get carried away after a draw at home, particularly when it’s to a side who’ve failed to beat us at Stamford Bridge in 26 years of trying. We were far from convincing in the first half against Spurs, although to be fair, it must be hard to find a rhythm when you’re being upended every two seconds. The fact remains though, from 2-0 down our players dug deep to give us a well-timed reminder of the fight we’ve come to expect at Chelsea.
Read more »
Date: Monday 2nd May, 2016
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 20:00 BST
After our worst season in 20 years, bizarrely the title could well be in our hands tonight. Unfortunately, it won’t be our title but it won’t be Spurs’ either if we get our way. It could be a real nail-biter, given our players have been anything but reliable this season – the one saving grace is, above all other games this season, we know they want this one.
Our players, and even the manager have nailed their colours to the mast where this particular game is concerned, so it’s up to them to walk the walk now. Either that, or face seeing the Spurs video released next week.
Date: Saturday 23rd April, 2016
Venue: Vitality Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
After the season we’ve had – and even more so after the last couple of games – putting a preview together feels pretty much how I’d imagine penning an obituary for an old friend. There’s a sense of obligation but it’s painful and I’m a bit lost for words.
What’s to say? We’ve been dire. Actually dire is flattering us, we’ve been worse than that because this isn’t just about poor performances, it’s about bad attitudes – and that’s never acceptable. From Hiddink’s message that we’ve done enough just to avoid relegation, through to the utter ambivalence from every player on the pitch – it’s soul destroying.
On a positive note though, today it’s a trip to Bournemouth. We lost the reverse fixture in December, in what ended up being Jose Mourinho’s last Premier League game in charge – a decision that clearly worked out well for the club!
Still, at least we won’t be relegated eh Guus?