5 Stories From the World of Football to Look Out for This Weekend

?We saw some Premier League action last weekend, the Football League started a fortnight ago and several continental competitions are starting on Friday.

Yes, after a very brief break over the summer, our favourite clubs are back challenging for titles, battling relegation, or just milling around in mid-table. With La Liga and the Bundesliga both kicking off this week, there are some pressing issues to be addressed in Europe.

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There are also some interesting narratives being written on English shores, with some of the big boys facing difficult questions in the coming days.

Here’s a look at five stories to keep an eye on as the footballing party gets underway this weekend.


Mats Hummels’ Homecoming

Mats Hummels

Mats Hummels’ time at ?Bayern Munich is quite hard to characterise. He was a rock in his first two seasons following a switch from rivals ?Borussia Dortmund, and then the German’s form dropped off a metaphorical cliff.

Out of nowhere, he was an unwanted man at the Allianz Arena, whilst also being forced into international retirement by Joachim Low. The centre-back tumbled down the pecking order and, although he was able to work his way back into the Bayern first-team setup, Hummels decided to crawl back to Signal Iduna Park in July.

How he would have loved to have taken part in the Yellow and Black’s 2-0 dismissal of Die Roten in the DFL Supercup recently, but injury deprived him of the opportunity. However, he should be fit to take on Augsburg in front of the Dortmund supporters he abandoned just three years ago. Will they accept or reject him?


Griezmann and Felix With Points to Prove

Antoine Griezmann

Joao Felix may have cost? Atletico Madrid €6m more than what they got for Antoine Griezmann, but it remains to be seen whether ?Barcelona or Los Rojiblancos have done the better business over the off-season.

The latter left Atletico Madrid for €120m and is set to play a starring role at the Nou Camp, especially in the absence of Lionel Messi, who is sidelined with a calf strain for the start of the season. Griezmann knows he will be playing second fiddle to the Argentine wonder when he returns, so the Frenchman must make his presence felt immediately.

If he fails to do so and instead endures an underwhelming debut campaign, his mega-money move will be something of embarrassment for both club and player. However, things would be even worse for him if his Atleti replacement Felix gets off to a flyer. The battle shall commence this Friday.


Solskjaer’s Credentials Put to the Test at Wolves

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

On the face of it, a 4-0 victory over one of the key top four contenders is a superb result for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his revamped ?Manchester United squad. If you saw the contest, however, you would know that they were seriously lacking in some quarters.

Chelsea weren’t dire and United weren’t fantastic; it was a strange match and the scoreline doesn’t reflect proceedings in the slightest. Realistically, nothing changes for the Red Devils off the back of the win against the Blues – they should still be targeting ?Champions League qualification and nothing else.

When Solskjaer takes his recruits on an away trip to ?Wolverhampton Wanderers this weekend, he and the team will know the size of the task at hand. Lose, and they are right back to square one. Win, and the fans can begin to get a little bit excited for the year ahead. And if there’s a draw? Well, we still won’t know too much about their capabilities in 2019/20!


Are Real Madrid Ready?

Eden Hazard

It’s all well and good having a lot of money and spending it on a lot of household names. I hate to burst you’re balloon ?Real Madrid supporters, but that doesn’t guarantee on-field success.

We should never judge a side too much by their performances in pre-season, although the Los Blancos board will surely have expected more than what Zinedine Zidane served up for them.

A 7-3 hammering at the hands of Atletico, a 1-0 loss to ?Tottenham Hotspur and draws with Roma and ?Arsenal don’t look amazing when you consider that £130m world-beater Eden Hazard was involved.

Several other lucrative new signings were also in action, including £54m hitman Luka Jovic and £40m starlet Rodrygo, yet neither were particularly impressive. Real start their league campaign at Celta Vigo; will their new generation of Galacticos gel or will it be another season from hell?


A Tired Liverpool Travel to Southampton

James Ward-Prowse,Georginio Wijnaldum

It has been well-documented that? Liverpool can still win six trophies this year. They won’t. The travel and the fixture list combine to create one truly gruelling schedule, the likes of which no team can manage.

We will see some evidence of fatigue on Saturday when the Reds venture down to the south coast for a game with ?Southampton. Their penalty shootout victory over Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday will have done morale no harm, but the legs may be in pain. It wouldn’t be too surprising if the Saints take advantage and pull off a shock.


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Bundesliga 2019/20 Season Preview: Title Contenders, Dark Horses, Promoted Sides & More

?For the first time in what feels like forever, fans are preparing for the new Bundesliga season not knowing who will be crowned as champions in nine months time.

Bayern Munich will be looking to make it eight titles in a row when they kick off the new season against Hertha BSC on Friday, but Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig are expected to be how on their tails throughout the campaign.

So with the new season just around the corner, here’s everything you need to know about what looks set to be the most exciting Bundesliga season in years.


Title Contenders

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Bayern Munich

It’s understandable why many are predicting Bayern Munich to make it eight in a row, especially after seeing how main rivals Dortmund threw away a massive lead at the top of the table last season to gift wrap the Meisterschale for the Bavarians.

They’re entering their second season with manager Niko Kova?, who despite winning the double last time around will be at risk of losing his job as soon as results start to go against the club.

The club have spent big the transfer market to fix a number of defensive problems, while the most recent signing of Ivan Periši? will help to offer some much-needed depth in wide areas following Arjen Robben’s retirement and Franck Ribéry’s departure.

But perhaps the most important thing to be keeping an eye during the first half of the season (or Hinrunde) will be the club’s elections in November, as club president Uli Hoeness will not be running for re-election, while he’ll also be stepping down as role as chairman of the board.

Borussia Dortmund 

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding what the Black and Yellows can conjure up this season, with manager Lucien Favre entering his second year at the Westfalenstadion.

Dortmund have spent almost €130m in the transfer market, snapping up the likes of Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt, as well as bringing Mats Hummels back to the club following his trophy-laden three-year spell at Bayern Munich.

There’s a strong feeling that Borussia Dortmund could have their best chance since the days of Jürgen Klopp to get their hands on the league title this season, as Bayern Munich for all of their investment are still undergoing a major rejuvenation project.

RB Leipzig

They haven’t offered a serious threat to the Bundesliga’s duopoly just yet, but the 2019/20 season could see Leipzig – 10 years after they were formed – finally achieve their goal of securing silverware in Germany’s top flight.


The Red Bull backed project are still among the most despised clubs in the Bundesliga and are widely seen as the antithesis of what makes German football so attractive, but the club has assembled an all-star cast of players and staff in Saxony which should give Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund a run for their money.

Only €52m has been spent by Leipzig as they look to fine-tune an already fantastic squad, but crucially they’ve been able to hold onto the likes of Dayot Upamecano, Yussuf Poulsen and Timo Werner – the latter still hasn’t signed a new contract and is set to become a free agent in 2020.

It is, however, the introduction of new manager Julian Nagelsmann which could see RB Leipzig come as close as they ever have to winning the Bundesliga title this season.


Dark Horses

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v FC Valencia - Pre-Season Friendly

Bayer Leverkusen

While some were tipping Leverkusen for a title challenge last season, Die Werkself actually found themselves around the relegation zone at times and they didn’t really find their feet until Peter Bosz was brought in to replace Heiko Herrlich.

After a full pre-season and some smart investment in the transfer market, however, Leverkusen will be confident that they can at least match their fourth-place finish from last year.

Borussia Mönchengladbach

Just like RB Leipzig will be hopeful that they can enjoy a new manager bounce this season, Gladbach are heading into the new campaign with former FC Salzburg boss Marco Rose in the dugout at Borussia-Park.

They missed out on Champions League football by just three points last season, and so far Borussia Mönchengladbach have been able to hold onto the majority of their star players, only being forced to sell Thorgan Hazard to Dortmund

Werder Bremen

Far from a modern-day heavyweight in German football, Werder Bremen have actually lifted four Bundesliga titles and one as recently as 2004.

Fans in the north-west won’t be expecting much more than last season’s eight-place finish, but with the likes of Maximilian Eggestein and Milot Rashica continuing to improve under manager Florian Kohfeldt, Die Werderaner could break into the European places sooner rather than later.

VfL Wolfsburg

Just not being involved in (another) relegation battle was somewhat of a success for Wolfsburg last season, but they actually went on to qualify for the Europa League group stages.

They’ve made very few changes to their first-team from last season, but new signings Xaver Schlager and Kevin Mbabu could help take manager Oliver Glasner – he took over this summer after four years with Austrian side LASK – to the next level.


Promoted Sides

1. FC Union Berlin v VfB Stuttgart - Bundesliga Playoff Leg Two

FC Köln

Coming back into the Bundesliga at the first time of asking, Köln will be the favourites from the newly promoted sides to retain their status as a top-light club, although their narrow DFB-Pokal win over Wehen Wiesbaden has still left some questions surrounding the club.

SC Paderborn

With a story unlike most other teams, Paderborn were actually sitting at the top of the Bundesliga table as recently as September 2014. But they went on to suffer back-to-back relegations and even faced dropping into Germany’s Regionalliga system.

They remained a professional club as 1860 Munich had issues with their licence for the third division and, since then, back-to-back promotions for Paderborn has seen them return to the Bundesliga.

Union Berlin

Urs Fischer’s side bucked the trend of 2. Bundesliga sides rolling over in Germany’s relegation play-off match and instead secured promotion on away goals, with opponents VfB Stuttgart dropping into the second division.


10 Notable Transfers

Ozan Kabak

Ivan Periši? – Inter to Bayern Munich (loan).

Julian Brandt – Bayer Leverkusen to Borussia Dortmund (€25m).

Ademola Lookman – Everton to RB Leipzig (€18m).

Karim Demirbay – TSG Hoffenheim to Bayer Leverkusen (€32m).

Ethan Ampadu – Chelsea to RB Leipzig (loan).


Robert Skov – FC Copenhagen to TSG Hoffenheim (€9m).

Dejan Jovelji? – Red Star Belgrade to Eintract Frankfurt (€4m).

Dodi Lukebakio – Watford to Hertha BSC (€20m).

Ozan Kabak – VfB Stuttgart to Schalke 04 (€15m).

Daishawn Redan – Chelsea to Hertha BSC (free transfer).


Prediction

Marco Reus

The Bundesliga is as big as it’s ever been and it looks set to be one of the most exciting seasons in the competition’s history, with at least three teams eyeing the league title while a handful of other sides battle it out for the remaining European places.

Although 17 out of the league’s 18 managers have predicted Bayern Munich to win an eighth consecutive Meisterschale, both Florian Kohfeldt and 90min’s Ben Carter are backing Borussia Dortmund to end their wait for the trophy.

Bayer Leverkusen should make up the rest of the top four alongside Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig, while promoted Paderborn and Union Berlin will be lucky to finish outside of the Bundesliga’s automatic relegation slots.


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Giovanni Trapattoni: Il Trap’s All-Time Best XI

Giovanni Trapattoni is number 5 in 90min’s Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next week.


The most successful manager in Italian football history. Sounds good doesn’t it? 

‘Yeah, it really does.’

And to become the most successful manager in Italian football history, you have to manage some of the best players of all time, right? 

‘Yeah, absolutely.’

So, below is the creme de la creme of Italian football. The best of the very, very best. 

Oh, and Republic of Ireland, Red Bull Salzburg and Vatican City fans, don’t hold your breath, none of your favourite players make this XI. ?Sorry. 


Goalkeeper & Defenders

Claudio Gentile of Juventus

Dino Zoff: Eternally old, but also eternally brilliant. The oldest World Cup winning captain of all time, and won just about every thing there is to win during Giovanni Trapattoni’s hugely successful first spell at Juventus. 

Giuseppe Bergomi: An Inter legend, Bergomi was, to use the kid’s lingo, absolutely lights out dude, during the club’s title winning 1988/89 campaign. During that season he kept it real, man. 

Gaetano Scirea: Lo Stile Juve personified. Quite simply the most important figure in Juventus’ history, the symbol of everything good about the club. Oh, and a bloody great libero too.

Claudio Gentile: This Italian World Cup winner once kicked Diego Maradona so hard he ended up on the moon. 

Paolo Maldini: It’s a Top 50 Greatest Managers of All Time rule that if a manager managed Paolo Maldini, then Paolo Maldini makes it into said manager’s all-time best XI.


Midfielders

Michel Platini (R) of Juventus is fighti

Marco Tardelli: We all know Tardelli for THAT celebration, but Tardelli was much more than a celebration, he was also one of the best Italian midfielders of the 1980s. A prototypical box to box midfielder, the Juventus legend was pretty special on and off the ball.

Lothar Matthaus: Another World Cup winner, this time with Germany, Matthaus probably reckons he’s the best player on this team. He’s not, but was pretty damn good.

Michel Platini: Matthaus isn’t the best player in this team because Michel Platini is. By far. He is THE Giovanni Trapattoni player. The one who won three Ballons d’Or, three Capocannoniere, two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, a European Cup and an Intercontinental Cup. 

Roberto Baggio: Trapattoni loved a good trequartista, and Baggio was one of the best of all time. A mesmeric player on his day, he had some of his best moments under the tutelage of Il Trap.


Forwards

Paolo Rossi

Paolo Rossi: After his ban for his alleged involvement in Totonero (betting scandal, in calcio, I know, unheard of), Paolo Rossi came back as one of the best forwards in the world. He was so good in fact, that he won the Ballon d’Or and scored a hat trick against Brazil at a World Cup. If that doesn’t make you good, I don’t know what does. 

Roberto Bettega: One of the many players who hit another level at Juventus when Trapattoni joined, Bettega was a go-to for the legendary manager. Oh, and he might have the coolest name ever. 


Number 50: Marcelo Bielsa: The Argentina Manager’s All Time Best XI

Number 49: Vic Buckingham: The English Manager’s All Time Best XI

Number 48: Claudio Ranieri: The Tinkerman’s All Time Best XI

Number 47: Bill Nicholson: The Tottenham Legend’s All Time Best XI

Number 46: Sven-Goran Eriksson: The Former Lazio Manager’s All Time Best XI

Number 45: Sir Alf Ramsey: The World Cup Winer’s All Time Best XI

Number 44: Antonio Conte: The Fiery Italian’s All-Time Best XI

Number 43: Kenny Dalglish: The King of Anfield’s All-Time Best XI

Number 42: Massimiliano Allegri: The Six-Time Serie A Winner’s All-Time Best XI

Number 41: Sir Bobby Robson: The Legendary Fighter’s All-Time Best XI

Number 40: Luis Aragones: Spain’s Most Important Manager’s All-Time Best XI

Number 39: Herbert Chapman: The Yorkshire Tactician’s All-Time Best XI

Number 38: Carlos Alberto Parreira: The World Cup Hero’s All-Time Best XI

Number 37: Franz Beckenbauer: Der Kaiser’s All-Time Best XI

Number 36: Viktor Maslov: Dedushka’s All-Time Best XI

Number 35: Rafa Benitez: The Likeable Spaniard’s All-Time Best XI

Number 34: Zinedine Zidane: The French Magician’s All-Time Best XI

Number 33: Luiz Felipe Scolari: Picking Big Phil’s All-Time Best XI

Number 32: Jupp Heynckes: The German Master Tactician’s All-Time Best XI

Number 31: Vicente del Bosque: The Moustachioed Mister’s All-Time Best XI

Number 30: Arsene Wenger: The Legendary Arsenal Manager’s All-Time Best XI

Number 29: Udo Lattek: The Inspirational Leader’s All-Time Best XI

Number 28: Jock Stein: Big Jock’s All-Time Best XI

Number 27: Vittorio Pozzo: Il Vecchio Maestro’s All-Time Best XI

Number 26: Jurgen Klopp: Mr Heavy Metal Football’s All-Time Best XI

Number 25: Mario Zagallo: Velho Lobo’s All-Time Best XI

Number 24: Bela Guttmann: The Proto-Mourinho’s All-Time Best XI

Number 23: Valeriy Lobanovskyi: The Soviet Scientist’s All-Time Best XI

Number 22: Louis van Gaal: The Mercurial & Enigmatic Dutch Master’s All-Time Best XI

Number 21: Otto Rehhagel: The ‘King’ Who Conquered Europe’s All-Time Best XI

Number 20: Tele Santana: The Attack-Minded Superstar’s All-Time Best XI

Number 19: Bill Shankly: The Liverpool Godfather’s All-Time Best XI

Number 18: Ottmar Hitzfeld: Der General Who Dominated Germany’s All-Time Best XI

Number 17: Miguel Muñoz: Real Madrid’s Greatest Ever Manager’s All-Time Best XI

Number 16: Fabio Capello: The Serial Serie A Winner’s All-Time Best XI

Number 15: Brian Clough: The Maverick Manager’s All-Time Best XI

Number 14: Nereo Rocco: The Milan Legend’s All-Time Best XI

Number 13: Carlo Ancelotti: The Diva Whisperer’s All-Time Best XI

Number 12: Sir Matt Busby: The Legendary Scot Who Built Modern Man Utd’s All-Time Best XI

Number 11: Marcello Lippi: The Italian World Cup Winner’s All-Time Best XI

Number 10: Bob Paisley: Liverpool’s Humble Genius’ All-Time Best XI

Number 9: Jose Mourinho: The Legendary Portuguese Tactician’s All-Time Best XI

Number 8: Helenio Herrera: The Peerless Pioneer’s All-Time Best XI

Number 7: Ernst Happel: The Austrian Mastermind’s All-Time Best XI

Number 6: ?Johan Cruyff: The Creator of the Barcelona Dream Team’s All-Time Best XI


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Giovanni Trapattoni: A Career of 2 Halves That Defined the Golden Era of Calcio at Juventus

Giovanni Trapattoni is number 5 in 90min’s Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next week.


“Five aggravating years.”

That’s how the final years of Giovanni Trappatoni’s managerial career are remembered.

Five years of a self-defeating style of football that slowly, but surely, turned a large group of supporters away from their national team.

Italian coach of the Republic of Ireland

Crowds dissipated. Hope dissipated. A nation’s love of a sport dissipated. 

So much so, that when the FAI released the statement:

“The Football Association of Ireland, Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli today (September 11) announced that following an amicable meeting this morning, they have parted company by mutual consent.”

The Irish populace rejoiced.

People in Derry shouted: “Glad to see the back of him, hi!”

People in Dublin shouted: “Ak sure he was feckin’ useless anyway!”

People in Cork shouted: *Inaudible high pitched noise* (no one understands the Cork accent). 

The lean years of not beating a single team ranked higher in the FIFA rankings, being thumped 6-1 by Germany, and having to deal with the fact that the national team manager thought every footballer in the country was sh*t, had ended. 

FBL-WC2014-IRL-GER

Hope was restored. 

The crowds in the Aviva Stadium restored. 

Ireland’s love of the beautiful game restored.

In the absence of Trapattoni, an orgastic future awaited Irish football. 

…All of the above isn’t exactly top 50 greatest managers of all time material, eh?

Well…no…not really.

Giovanni Trappatoni’s final five years as a manager aren’t exactly fondly remembered. In fact, neither are the 15-odd years before that. 

The Italian manager didn’t exactly set the world on fire during spells at Bayern Munich, the Italian national team, the Vatican City (yeah, they have a team, and no, Father Romeo Sensini from Father Ted doesn’t play for them), Benfica, VfB Stuttgart, Fiorentina, Cagliari & Red Bull Salzburg.

The only really memorable moment of this period was Trap’s rant to the German media following backlash over his decision to drop two of Bayern’s best players for a game against Schalke 04 (which they inevitably lost). Here it is in all its broken German glory:

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“These players were weak like an empty bottle.” 

What. A. Line. 

So, yeah, the last 20 years of Trap’s managerial career were pretty, well, meh. 

But the Italian’s career is one of two starkly contrasting halves. 

What came before, in the first half of his career, was truly special. 

For the first half of his career was an 18-year period during which Giovanni Trapattoni assembled one of the greatest teams of all time, won the most trophies in Italian football history, and dominated BY FAR the best league the world has ever seen. 

…Top 50 greatest managers of all time material, eh? 

Top five greatest managers of all time, actually. 


Following a hugely successful career at the heart of a two-time European Cup winning AC Milan side (led by Nereo Rocco, who you can read more about ?here), and a less successful managerial baptism at the same club, Trapattoni took over at a surprisingly struggling Juventus in 1976. 

The Fiorentina manager Giovanni Trapattoni...

Juventus weren’t ‘struggling’ because the squad was devoid of talent, or needed a total upheaval from top to bottom. Dino Zoff, Claudio Gentile, Gaetano Scirea, Giuseppe Furino, Marco Tardelli and Roberto Bettega were all at the club; seeing as you’ve heard of them all, you can hazard a guess that they were all pretty good at football.

Rather, La Vecchia Signora simply needed a manager/leader capable of nurturing the aforementioned talents. A manager/leader that would utilise a system to allow them to flourish. A manager/leader that would make them winners. 

They turned to Trap. 

And within a year, it was clear that this was an inspired appointment.

As within a year, Juventus had ousted inner-city rivals Torino by a single point, and claimed their 17th Scudetto. 

One year later, Juventus won their first ever European trophy, beating Athletic Club in the UEFA Cup final.

Trapattoni’s Bianconeri would then round off the 70s with another Scudetto and a Coppa Italia. 

The real Juventus were back. Back atop Serie A. Back with the big boys of European football. Back in the big time. And they were back because of Trap’s astonishing ability to galvanise a group of hugely talented players, who had already won basically every trophy in the history of the world, and inspire them to win even more

But Trapattoni’s influence, while clear in a man-management Brendan Rodgers x2000000 sense, wasn’t wholly evident tactically, as he hadn’t really deviated too far from the catenaccio utilised by Carlo Parola previously. Sure, Trapattoni had focused more on space and the exploitation of said space, but the remnants of catenaccio were still prevalent in each and every game Juventus played in the late 70s.

It wasn’t until the signing of Republic of Ireland hero Liam Brady – later a part of his Irish coaching set-up – from Arsenal in 1980, that Il Trap began to assert himself more in a tactical sense.


With Brady as the club’s new trequartista (number ten for the uninitiated dweebs), the Juventus manager underwent somewhat of a tactical bildungsroman (coming of age for the uninitiated dweebs). 

Having one of the most gifted creative talents in world football opened up the opportunity to utilise new systems; and the system that Trap would settle on, would be Gioco All’italiana.

‘Gioco-what?’ 

Gioco All-italiana. 

Here’s a Oxford/Cambridge/wherever else you can get dictionaries, description: 

Gioco All-italiana (noun) – A tactical system in which each player outfield player – except the trequartista – would have their zone to occupy on the pitch, rarely – if ever – meandering out of position, while the trequartista would have the freedom, as the player capable of creating something from nothing, to roam around the park, finding pockets of space to exploit and break down the opposition’s defence. 


?Teams Managed
?AC Milan (1974-75)
?Juventus (1976-86)
?Inter (1986-91)
?Juventus (1991-94)
?Bayern Munich (1994-95)
?Cagliari (1995-96)
?Bayern Munich (1996-98)
?Fiorentina (1998-2000)
?Italy (2000-04)
?Benfica (2004-05)
?VfB Stuttgart (2005-06)
?Red Bull Salzburg (2006-08)
Republic of Ireland (2008-2013)?
?Vatican City (2010)

The use of Gioco All-italiana would come to define the rest of Trapattoni’s career. 

In using this formation, Trap had invariably (maybe accidentally), pinned all of his hopes for success on world class number tens. And, luckily for him, because Brady was one, it worked. 

In the two years utilising Gioco All’italiana with Brady as the trequartista, Juventus won. A lot. Two Serie A titles in two years to be exact; the second of which was won by a Liam Brady penalty on the last day of the season to pip Fiorentina to the post. 

Unbelievably, however, there was still room for improvement. 

For Juventus, despite all the success and trophies, and medals, and certificate of achievements, hadn’t quite won everything. They’d won a lot; but not everything. 

Michel Platini of Juventus and Emidio Oddi of Roma

So in order to win everything, rather than another tactical upheaval, Trap expressed the need for more talent. An even better number ten. 

And he got it. 

Liam Brady, explicitly the best player at the club at the time, was ousted in favour of Michel Platini; a French trequartista with a number nine’s eye for goal and the passing ability of…Jesus Christ himself. 

Brady was brilliant.

Platini was, somehow, better. 

As the number ten improved, so did Juventus. 


“Trapattoni told me that I was free to do what I wanted.” 

Platini


They won another two Serie A titles, another Coppa Italia, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and even made it to their first European Cup final in ten years (which they lost…because Juventus usually lose European Cup finals) as Platini provided more goals than anyone else in Italy for three consecutive years; winning three consecutive Ballons d’Or in the process. 

Their maiden European Cup triumph would allude Trapattoni and Platini until 1985 when it would be won on the saddest day in La Vecchia Signora’s history, as 39 Juventini were tragically killed prior to kick-off at Heysel Stadium. In the aftermath of the tragedy, what should have been Trapattoni’s crowning achievement paled into irrelevancy, becoming a day remembered of unspeakable pain as opposed to unbridled joy. 

FOOTBALL-HEYSEL DISASTER-PLATINI

A few months later, Il Trap would guide Juventus to their first Intercontinental Cup triumph – beating Argentino Juniors on penalties. 

1986 would be the legendary manager’s final year at Juventus – for the time being – capping off a remarkable decade with his sixth Serie A title.

After leaving Juve, Trapattoni would enjoy a relatively successful spell at Inter, winning the 1989 Serie A title, but without a genuinely world class number ten, the Gioco All’italiana couldn’t vanquish Arrigo Sacchi’s impeccable AC Milan side, or even Diego Maradona’s SSC Napoli. 

So without a trequartista in sight on the Nerazurri side of Milan, he returned to Juventus in 1991, where he would be given one last opportunity to work with a generation defining talent – this time a guy called Roberto Baggio. 

With the most naturally gifted Italian footballer of all time at his disposal, Trapattoni made Juventus, after years of clinging onto a semblance relevancy behind AC Milan, Inter and Napoli, actually full-on relevant again. Baggio, in the free role Platini and Brady were given by the manager previously, flourished, helping Juventus to a UEFA Cup triumph in 1993, scoring two goals in the final.


If Giovanni Trapattoni’s managerial career had ended the moment Il Divin Codino lifted the UEFA Cup trophy above his head, Trap might be even higher in our list of greatest managers of all time. But, as you know, it didn’t.

Il Trap would go on to manage for the guts of another 20 years, winning infrequently and never having the opportunity to manage world class number tens at club level ever again. 

Still, that shouldn’t detract from the fact that the first half of his career in management was remarkable. Truly remarkable. 

He dominated in a way no other manager has ever done in the most undeniably competitive league the world has ever seen. 

That ain’t half bad, eh? 


Number 50: Marcelo Bielsa – El Loco’s Journey From Argentina to Footballing Immortality in Europe

Number 49: Vic Buckingham – How an Englishman Discovered Johan Cruyff & Pioneered Total Football

Number 48: Claudio Ranieri: A Ridiculed Tinkerman Who Masterminded One of Football’s Greatest Ever Achievements

Number 47: Bill Nicholson: Mr Tottenham Hotspur, the First Double Winning Manager of the 20th Century

Number 46: Sven-Goran Eriksson: The Scudetto Winning Shagger Who Never Solved the Lampard-Gerrard Conundrum

Number 45: Sir Alf Ramsey: The Man Behind the ‘Wingless Wonders’ & England’s Sole World Cup Triumph

Number 44: Antonio Conte: An Astute Tactician Whose Perfectionist Philosophy Reinvented the 3-5-2 Wheel

Number 43: Kenny Dalglish: The Beacon of Light in Liverpool’s Darkest Hour

Number 42: Massimiliano Allegri: The Masterful Tactician Who Won Serie A Five Times in a Row

Number 41: Sir Bobby Robson: A Footballing Colossus Whose Fighting Spirit Ensured an Immortal Legacy

Number 40: Luis Aragones: Spain’s Most Important Manager, the Atleti Rock and the Modern Father of Tiki-Taka

Number 39: Herbert Chapman: One of Football’s Great Innovators & Mastermind Behind the ‘W-M’ Formation

Number 38: Carlos Alberto Parreira: The International Specialist Who Never Shied Away From a Challenge

Number 37: Franz Beckenbauer: The German Giant Whose Playing Career Overshadowed His Managerial Genius

Number 36: Viktor Maslov: Soviet Pioneer of the 4-4-2 & the Innovator of Pressing

Number 35: Rafa Benitez: The Conquerer of La Liga Who Masterminded That Comeback in Istanbul

Number 34: Zinedine Zidane: Cataloguing the Frenchman’s Transition From Midfield Magician to Managerial Maestro

Number 33: Luiz Felipe Scolari: How the Enigmatic ‘Big Phil’ Succeeded as Much as He Failed on the Big Stage

Number 32: Jupp Heynckes: The Legendary Manager Who Masterminded ‘the Greatest Bayern Side Ever’

Number 31: Vicente del Bosque: The Unluckiest Manager in the World Who Led Spain to Immortality

Number 30: Arsene Wenger: A Pioneering Who Became Invincible at Arsenal

Number 29: Udo Lattek: The Bundesliga Icon Who Shattered European Records

Number 28: Jock Stein: The Man Who Guided Celtic to Historic Heights & Mentored Sir Alex Ferguson

Number 27: Vittorio Pozzo: Metodo, Mussolini, Meazza & the Difficult Memory of a Two-Time World Cup Winner

Number 26: Jurgen Klopp: The Early Years at Mainz 05 Where He Sealed His ‘Greatest Achievement’

Number 25:Mario Zagallo: Habitual World Cup Winner & Sculptor of Brazil’s Joga Bonito Era

Number 24: Bela Guttmann: The Dance Instructor Who Changed Football Forever (and Managed…Just Everyone)

Number 23: Valeriy Lobanovskyi: The Scientist Who Dominated Football in the Soviet Union

Number 22: Louis van Gaal: The Stubborn Master Who Won 15 Major Trophies at 4 of the World’s Greatest Clubs

Number 21: Otto Rehhagel: The ‘King’ Who Turned 150/1 Greek Outsiders into Champions of Europe

Number 20: Tele Santana: The ‘Joga Bonito’ Icon Who Helped Brazil Rediscover Their Love of Football

Number 19: Bill Shankly: The Innovative Motivator Who Rebuilt Liverpool From the Ground Up

Number 18: Ottmar Hitzfeld: The Manager Who Won Absolutely Everything at Germany’s 2 Biggest Clubs

Number 17: Miguel Muñoz: The Man Who Told Alfredo Di Stefano to F*ck Off & Led the Ye-Ye’s to European Glory

Number 16: Fabio Capello: Italy’s Cosmopolitan Disciplinarian Who Built on a Generation-Defining AC Milan

Number 15: Brian Clough: He Wasn’t the Best Manager in the Business, But He Was in the Top 1

Number 14: Nereo Rocco: ‘El Paron’, the Pioneer of Catenaccio & Forgotten Great of Italian Football

Number 13: Carlo Ancelotti: Football’s Most Loveable Eyebrow in the Words of His Players

Number 12: Sir Matt Busby: The Man Who Built the Modern Manchester United

Number 11: Marcello Lippi: Montecristo Cigars, Neapolitan Dreams, Scudetti in Turin & Gli Azzurri’s World Cup

Number 10: Bob Paisley: The Understated Tactician Who Conquered All of Europe With Liverpool

Number 9: Jose Mourinho: The ‘Special One’ Who Shattered Records All Over Europe

Number 8: Helenio Herrera: The Innovator Who Single-Handedly Changed the Beautiful Game

Number 7: Ernst Happel: The ‘Weird Man’ Who Conquered European Football and Helped Shape the Modern Game

Number 6: ?Johan Cruyff: The Visionary Who Became the Most Important Man in the History of Football


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Bayern Munich Enter Race to Sign Philippe Coutinho on Loan Ahead of Transfer Deadline

Bayern Munich have entered the race to sign Philippe Coutinho, starting negotiations with Barcelona over a possible loan move with an option to buy.

After leaving Liverpool in January 2018 to join La Blaugrana in a deal worth around £130m, Coutinho has failed to live up to the expectations at the Catalan club, and has even been booed on occasion inside the Nou Camp.

He was duly made available this summer, with a litany of Premier League sides, including Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea (before their transfer ban was made official) and Tottenham all linked with his signature.

However, a number of pre-deadline day moves failed to materialise, and with the English transfer window now shutting the Brazilian’s options have reduced. Which is where Bayern come in.

According to a report from RAC 1, the Bavarian side have now swooped in, offering both Barca and Coutinho salvation with a loan offer that includes an option to buy at the end of it.

It was understood that Barca were keen to secure a permanent switch for Coutinho, hence why potential moves to Arsenal and Spurs fell through, but their desperation to offload him could trump this desire. 

Philippe Coutinho,Miguel Trauco

And, according to Marta Ramon, they are currently in talks with the German champions over a potential deal. On Twitter, Ramon explained: “Barça sources have just confirmed to RAC1 that at this time they are negotiating with the Bayern Munich a cession with option to buy for Coutinho.”

Despite these negotiations, there still remains the possibility that the playmaker is used as a pawn in the negotiations with Paris Saint-Germain for compatriot Neymar. 

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