BLOG ITALIA
Monday July 16 2018
The saddest summer

The 2018 World Cup has concluded and Italy fans like Giancarlo Rinaldi found it an oddly empty experience watching from the outside.

The family group chat buzzed only occasionally. We set it up to share our thoughts during the last European Nations and kept it alive for the joy and desperation that only following the Azzurri can provide. Throughout the World Cup in Russia, however, it sat as an all-too-often-silent reminder of Italy's failure to qualify for the first time in a generation or two.

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Saturday July 14 2018
World Cup: Bronze medal for Belgium

Belgium defeated England for the second time in this World Cup and secured the bronze medal in Russia 2018, their best ever finish.

These sides had also met in the group stage when both were already qualified, Belgium winning 1-0 in a game between two second-string teams. They met again in St Petersburg for the bronze medal after losing their semi-finals to France and Croatia respectively.

It took all of four minutes to break the deadlock, as Thomas Meunier got the right side of Danny Rose to slide on to a Nacer Chadli low cross from the left.

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Thursday July 12 2018
Atalanta ask after Dendoncker

Atalanta are reported to be in negotiations with RSC Anderlecht for Belgium international Leander Dendoncker.

The 23-year-old had already been linked with a Serie A move to Sampdoria.

Sky Sport Italia claim talks have started between Atalanta and Anderlecht for the midfielder, who can also play as a centre-back when needed.

Dendoncker is at the World Cup in Russia, but made only one appearance in the victory over England.

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Thursday July 12 2018
Pitana ref for World Cup Final

Argentina’s Nestor Pitana has been named as the referee for the 2018 World Cup Final between France and Croatia.

The big game is in Moscow on Sunday afternoon and is the first for Croatia, while only the third in the history of Les Bleus.

FIFA announced today that Pitana will officiate the showdown, aided by assistants Hernan Maidana and Juan Belatti, with Dutch Bjorn Kuipers as the fourth official.

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Tuesday July 10 2018
World Cup: France in the Final

Samuel Umtiti’s header from a corner proved enough, as France ended Belgium’s 24-game unbeaten run and reached the World Cup Final.

It’s their first Final since losing the 2006 showdown to Italy on penalties, but in Moscow they’ll face either England or Croatia this weekend.

With Thomas Meunier suspended, Belgium brought in Nacer Chadli and again benched Dries Mertens, while France had Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi back from his ban to replace Corentin Tolisso.

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Tuesday July 10 2018
Capello: ‘England favourites for World Cup’

Fabio Capello predicts that France will meet England in the World Cup final “and in that case I see England as favourites”.

The former Juventus, Milan and Real Madrid Coach was England manager for the 2010 World Cup, leaving abruptly before Euro 2012 after John Terry was stripped of the captaincy without him being informed.

“They have fast lads and a great manager [Gareth Southgate],” Capello said of the Three Lions, speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport.

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Sunday July 8 2018
Nainggolan 'didn't want to leave'

Radja Nainggolan “didn’t want to leave Roma, but at Inter and with Luciano Spalletti, he can play where he wants,” said his sister Rania.

The twins both play professional football and grew up together playing straight after school, she told La Gazzetta dello Sport magazine Fuorigioco.

“I watched almost all the World Cup games, but seeing Belgium without Radja was painful. He deserved to be there for what he did at Roma. I was sure he would be in the squad, so it was very disappointing.”

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Saturday July 7 2018
CR7 out, Hazard and Icardi in?

Real Madrid want Eden Hazard plus either Mauro Icardi – who has a €110m release clause – or Robert Lewandowski if Cristiano Ronaldo joins Juventus.

According to Sportitalia, the Merengues are preparing their plan to calm the supporters if CR7 leaves for a new experience at Juve at a cost of €100m.

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Saturday July 7 2018
Roma still want Mertens

There continue to be reports that Roma are trying to buy Dries Mertens from Napoli, but the asking price is €35m plus bonuses.

According to La Repubblica, the proposal is more than a mere idea.

It seems as if the Belgium international will return to his old wide attacking role anyway under Carlo Ancelotti and would have the same position for Eusebio Di Francesco’s Roma.

Mertens had a release clause worth €28m, but it was valid only for clubs outside of Italy and has already expired.

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Friday July 6 2018
Belgium set up France semi

Belgium set up a World Cup semi-final with France after a hard-fought 2-1 win against Brazil on Friday.

Juventus’ Douglas Costa was again a substitute for Brazil against Belgium, who dropped Dries Mertens after the Napoli attacker pulled up during his country’s 3-2 victory over Japan in the last 16.

The Red Devils blew away the five-time world champions inside the opening 31 minutes as Fernandinho was forced into a header a corner into his own net, before Kevin de Bruyne blasted a daisy-cutter into Allisson’s bottom-left corner.

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