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[FM21] Finding Myself in Tuscany - A Recovering Savescummer's Story of Redemption and Glory! (Or maybe just redemption)


13th Man
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Running off the Romans

23/12/2024

 

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Are Livorno finally rounding into the kind of form that propelled them to second last year?  It certainly looks like it on the back of this 2-0 win over Roma at Armando Picchi.  After two disappointing draws to Brescia and Verona, Livorno have ripped off four straight wins in Serie A, scoring a jaw dropping thirteen goals.  They are still letting in more than they surely would like, giving up five in five, but most of those have come after they opened up large leads.

 

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The win against Roma also put Livorno back into the Champions League places for the first time since Week 1 as Juventus fell in a shock defeat to newly promoted Ternana.

 

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The Roma game, though, did not feature Livorno’s terrifying strike duo of Raspadori and Esposito though the later did score a penalty.  Rather, it was a game in which Livorno may have found their defensive foundation.  Roma huffed and puffed for large stretches of the game, but Livorno remained firm, giving up few chances of any quality.  On the other side, Livorno waited patiently for their own chances, and made the most of their opportunities.

 

First came a goal from centerback Gozzi in the 33rd minute, who rose to meet a far post free kick and power it into the roof of the net in the thirty third minute.  Roma managed one decent chance after that, with Bani forced into a good block when Roma striker Milik thought he was clean through on goal.  After that, however, Livorno switched to their 5-2-2-1 and began to play out of the back while focusing on possession, forcing Roma to chase the game.

 

It may have been the frustration, or the way that manager Stephano Pioli was berating his players all game long, but in the 72nd minute, Roma centerback Lovato clumsily brought down Esposito long before a Galves cross arrived.  Having earned the penalty, Esposito stepped up and clinched the game for Livorno.

 

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After the win, and Juventus’ loss, Livorno reached fourth place for the first time since week 1 of the season.  With their strike duo both scoring freely, if Livorno can improve on their only decent defense, suddenly they might just be able to manage a repeat of last season's successes.

 

That defense will face a stern test in two weeks time when they travel to Milan to take on the runaway Serie A leaders free scroing AC Milan following the holiday break.

 

UP NEXT - Misery in Milan

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Misery in Milan

 

Tough Ask Ahead for Livorno

4/1/2025

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Livorno's year opens with a with a to the San Siro to play AC Milan, a team that was fast, attacking, and had been scoring for fun all year.  The table topper's only loss was a 1-0 defeat away to Napol, and they have won almost every other game by two or more goals, suffering draws only against Inter and Roma. While Livorno beat AC Milan in their last meeting, that was at Armando Picchi, under an interim manager, and in a season when AC Milan were far from their best. Their other three meetings had resulted in comfortable victories for AC Milan. With Livorno entering the game in very good form, Livorno head to Milan with a vague hope of achieving a draw.  Maybe Raspadori can score a brace?  Or Esposito can strike against his former city rivals? 

 

Somehow, Livorno is going to have to rely on their attack because it is hard to believe that they will be able to repel Milan's lightning fast and skillful attack that has scored forty goals in only eighteen games. Livorno is second in the scoring charts of course, with thirty-six on the season, but unlike Milan, Livorno's defense, baring a few exceptions, has been shaky.

 

Misery for Milan

5/1/2025

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In a game that many thought would be a shootout with AC Milan heavily favored to win, Livorno prevailed in a cagey, hard fought game. Livorno held firm against AC Milan's onslaught and after eighty-two minutes, Raspadori scored a brilliant goal on the counter following one of many AC Milan’s 14 corners (it should be mentioned that Livorno also had their fair share with 8).

 

Looking at the stats from this game, you might think that this was a smash and grab victory for the visitors.  57-43% possession for the home side? Twenty shots to Livorno’s nine?  Mazzini in Livorno’s goal forced into seven shots?

 

But while Milan peppered the Livorno goal, even from seemingly decent positions, Livorno always had things covered.  Bellotti was stifled in attack, Dembele rarely got the ball down the flanks, and AC Milan’s midfield engine room was shut down, with AC manager Shevchenko moving around the three men in a futile attempt to unchain them from Livorno’s steady but structured press.  Milan’s most effective attacking players were their full backs, but their crosses were well dealt with by Livorno’s back line.

 

At the start of the game, AC Milan looked ready to dominate and possibly put two or more past the visitors, as they had on all but one occasion.  Verdi had sent out the 5-2-2-1, apparently in an attempt to shore up his back line and congest the midfield.  Instead, he realized he was giving AC Milan far too much space to build up their attacks.

 

“We were never going to press too hard against a team like AC Milan,” he said post game, “they have too much pace, too much quality - they’d cut right through us. So we sat off a bit at first. But then I watched their central midfielders able to dwell on the ball, to pick their passes. While Giacomo [Raspadori] and Martin [Palumbo] should have been able to disrupt them a bit, our lines were too deep.  Pushing up the defense and putting Giacomo back up front, we were able to squeeze them into a confined area and not let them use their pace against us in space, while still not having to chase them too much.” [Higher DL, lower line of engagement.]

 

After Livorno reverted to their normal 5-2-1-2, they not only began to stifle AC Milan, but they came to life offensively too.  Esposito and Raspadori both forced several excellent saves from Donnarumma late in the first half.

 

The second half was a cagey affair, with neither side able to get much going.  At least until the 82nd minute.  Garcia, on for the disappointing Palumbo in attacking midfield, reacted first to a Livorno clearance after AC Milan took a corner, and he charged forward.  After forcing the defender in front of him to commit, he played a beautifully weighted ball towards Raspadori.  Rightback Dodo seemed to have him covered until Rapsadori picked just the right moment to make a surge for the ball.  He nicked it around the helpless Dodo and was through on goal, leaving the right bank stumbling after him. Rather than let Donnarumma close him down, Raspadori fired a howitzer from just inside the box that gave the Milan keeper no chance.  

 

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AC Milan threw everything they had at Livorno in those final ten minutes, but other than one good save off another corner, Mazzini happily collected anything that made it past Livorno’s back three - all of whom played excellent in this game.

 

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While the wins against Sassoulo, SPAL, and Fiorentina were impressive from a scoring point of view, these past two games of Livorno’s win streak have shown that Livorno can be tight at the back as well. 

 

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With Juventus falling to Lazio yesterday, Livorno were able to gain a four point advantage over Juventus and further benefited from Inter failing to win against Sampdoria to move up into 3rd place. Napoli remains only three points behind Livorno in fifth.

 

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AC Milan suffered their first home defeat in twelve games as they fell to Raspadori’s goal and Livorno’s densely packed defense.

 

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With the second half of the season starting Thursday, Livorno can begin to dream of repeating last year’s accomplishment of finishing in the top four, and possibly even making a title challenge.

 

“For now,” Verdi said after the game, “we have to focus on finding that balance between attacking and defending which has eluded us for much of the season.  Hopefully we can keep this momentum going and see how far it takes us.”

 

Many expected AC Milan to pour the misery on Livorno, instead, it is AC Milan and their fans who head home from the San Siro, while Livorno claim another top team as a victim.

 

UP NEXT - The Actual Halfway Update and Analysis

Edited by 13th Man
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30 minutes ago, Muttley84 said:

Damn, you still going strong at this. And to think you were playing this when I was at Brescia which is like months ago in real life... keep up the good work, (mostly) silent reader here.

Ha! Well, I play slooooow. Only on season five and I started this save in March I think! I rarely get more than one-two saves per edition unless I stay on one FM for a few years.

I’m always amazed at how fast you go while still managing to accomplish a lot! You blast through seasons like crazy! I was super busy for a few weeks and missed a whole save of yours (August I think?). I guess that’s the thing about FM Touch though, right? 

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12 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

KUTGW! Defensively sound 1-0 Wins are just as important  as 5-0 thrashings or 4-3 wins! All that matters is the W. The table doesn't ask your team to draw a picture!

 

That's the way I'm doing things right now ;)

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Halfway Season Review (Tactical/Statistical Interlude!!!)

[Monday was a long, hard day. My son tried to refuse to be dropped off at daycare (20 mins of screaming), my students were tough, the class I’m required to take was a waste of time (Who doesn’t love to be told how to do their job by people with less experience?), and then my daughter got hit in the face at school and had three nasty cuts under her eye (she’ll be fine). So did I go to bed early? Did I prepare for my teaching the next day so that things would go smoother? Dear reader, I think you know I did none of those things. I defeated AC Milan with a tweaked strategy that I’m very proud of, wrote it up, then spent a bunch of time analyzing Livorno’s first half of the season. So…enjoy! Or don’t. I had fun.]

 

6/1/2025

 

The Serie A season just reached the halfway point this past week, and a fascinating race is shaping up at the top of the table. The story of the season has been AC Milan’s sudden rise to the top of the table after a poor year last season that saw them fail to even qualify for Europe. They had looked set to run away with the title too, ready to pull five points ahead, until the last round of games when they were defeated 1-0 at home to the upstart Livorno. Now they sit only two points ahead of last season’s champions Lazio, and five ahead of Livorno. The race for Champions League spots is extremely tight.  Only eight points separate the top six, and only four between Livorno in third and Juventus in sixth.  These two clubs make up the two of the story lines of the season so far.  

 

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While Juventus was a bit off of AC Milan’s blistering pace, the side has now lost their last two matches and find themselves eight points behind, and three behind Inter in fourth - with Champions League qualification surely a bare minimum for the Italian giants. While there was no shame in losing narrowly to Lazio in Rome, their failure to even draw against newly promoted Ternana was certainly embarrassing.

 

On the other side, Livorno are showing that last season’s title challenge was no fluke.  They have spent most of the season just outside the Champions League places but their recent string of impressive victories has seen them rise to third. They possess one of the most potent attacking trios in the league this season with Raspadori and Esposito scoring freely and attacking midfielder Palumbo playing both provider and finisher and often popping up with crucial goals. Their defense has been a bit shaky this season, but there have been signs of improvement in recent games.

Team by Team

Livorno - Predicted finish 9th. Currently 3rd.

Though impressive in their first game against Napoli and came from behind to beat Parma in their second, Livorno struggled a bit early in the season.  After falling to Atlanta following a red card for club captain Carboni - one which seems to have lost him his starting role - Livorno could only draw away to Empoli and narrowly squeeze by Sampdoria at home before falling again to Juventus following a rare howler from Mazzini.

 

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October saw a return to form, with a hat trick from Raspadori seeing Livorno past Ternana and a brilliant game again from the forward leading them to a 2-1 victory against Inter. Those two wins sandwiched a credible draw against Lazio.

 

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Since the Inter game, Livorno has been on a truly impressive run in the league, winning eight of ten and failing to score two or more goals on only two occasions. The only negatives were the consecutive 2-2 draws against Brescia and Verona that saw Livorno unable to keep a lead.  If they had found a way to win both those games and they would be topping the table now, just one and they would be second.

 

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The trends are looking promising for this Livorno side, who may have started a little slow, but are hitting their stride as those around them begin to falter. With the side out of the Champions League this season there might be less demands on the players, even as they try to match or better their efforts in last year's EURO Cup.

 

It is hard to say if Livorno’s mixed early season form was because of this, but a look at the team sheets in the past few months has shown remarkable consistency. Verdi certainly has settled on a starting 11.  

 

Early in the season it was not unusual to see four and even six changed to the lineup from game to game as Verdi juggled both Serie A and the Champions League. Since November, however, there have rarely been more than two unforced changes to the lineup from game to game, even when the games came twice a week. Instead, he began substituting in certain patterns to keep his first 11 fresh, and only occasionally resting starters.

 

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Club captain Carboni still played reguarly, but has obviously lost the trust of Verdi after his red card against Atalanta and a string of less than stellar performances. New arrival Amione has come into the side and performed at a consistently high level, though he is prone to losing top level strikers and not reading the game as well. Verdi may have found the solution, though, with Gozzi moving into the center and Amione to the left. On the evidence of the last few games, it has worked quite well, with Gozzi keeping the AC Milan’s previously unstoppable Bellotti quiet for ninety minutes.

 

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The midfield has looked much the same as last year, with Piccinocchi pairing with Ranocchia. New arrival Modric struggled to perform early in the season, but has been improving as he is given only occasional starts in more comfortable home games and has come off the bench in less high pressure situations.

 

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To last year’s potent attack, Sebastiano Esposito has been a piece that has turned Livorno from difficult to nearly impossible to defend. Moreo performed admirably the part two years, his high work rate and strength allowing Raspadori to thrive, but Esposito has taken some of the goal scoring load off his partner’s shoulders in a way that Moreo generally couldn’t. 

 

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The wings is the one place that Verdi still regularly rotates, with Tripadelli and Tsimikas trading starts on the left while Galves seems to be the preferred choice on the right for big games, but Farago still starts regularly.

 

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Since establishing his starting 11, and largely sticking with it, only rotating players when they truly need a rest, Livorno’s form has improved. The change has brought  more consistent and cohesive play from this side which relies so much on quick, intricate passing and maintaining shape in defense.

 

Verdi mentioned another recent tactical switch in a recent interview.

 

“Early in the season I was also pushing players forward too much, asking them to attack and take risks against teams that were sitting back. I began to realize that we were playing into their hands, sending too many long balls forward, too many low percentage passes that needlessly lost possession.”

 

Since returning to a more patient - but still quick and probing - style, Livorno have begun to unlock defenses at a terrifying rate. [Positive down to Balanced]

 

Livorno’s base formation is a progressive, high tempo passing 5-2-1-2 that allows them to press high without losing shape and gives them multiple routes to goal.  They are brutal on the counter with their fast and dangerous forwards, but tend more towards patient buildup through the middle up their ladder system. When probes come to nothing, Livorno often play back to their center backs, but regularly catch teams out with switches of play to unmarked wingbacks.

 

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[PIs. Front three - max pressing. AF - roam from position. AM - roam from position, take more risks, shoot more often. CAR - take more risks.]

 

The weakness of the 5-2-1-2, however, has been the 4-2-3-1 favored by many Serie A teams. The front four can occupy Livorno’s defense and the full backs can then attack the wings with impunity too often. In previous seasons Verdi countered this with a 5-3-2 with a flat midfield. While this helped keep the opposition at bay, it all but severed the link between Livorno’s midfield and forwards and forced them to be one dimensional, often only able to score on the counter.

Verdi’s solution to create a 5-2-2-1 was actually developed to counter Juventus’ wide overload 5-2-3, but has proven especially effective against 4-2-3-1.

 

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[Same PIs, just replace the AF, with the SS. Also add stay wider, or move into channels for two AMs]

 

Livorno’s 5-2-2-1 is a defensively fluid shape that allows Livorno to counteract many of the strengths of the 4-2-3-1. The effectiveness of the wide overloads is reduced by giving the wingbacks cover both from the center backs and the holding midfielders. The other defensive benefit of the formation is that the backline is not pulled out of position even by a roaming attacking midfielder with the two mids able to work together to constrict his space and mark him. This means the backline can float, one marking the striker and the other two able to cover opponents who break through.

 

But it’s not just effective offensively, as it specifically targets the gap between the defense and the midfield with its two attacking midfielders - both of whom are dangerous creators and finishers in and around the box. They are also able to drift into the wide and half spaces often left by the fullbacks bombing forward.

 

This is where Livorno can be especially dangerous in this formation. With Esposito occupying one and often both of the center backs, when Raspadori and Palumbo join him in the penalty area, one of them is often left unmarked.

The 5-2-1-2 remains the more potent and dangerous formation, but Verdi is apparently seeing things he liked when they line up in the 5-2-2-1 as he has used it far more this season.

By the Numbers

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At a glance, Livorno is a very good attacking team, but merely good at defending. They’re disciplinary record is decent, though both of their red cards have cost them, especially Carboni’s first half dismissal against Atalanta.

 

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Just as in 2023/2024, Livorno is above average in every statistical category, as is outperforming both their xG for and their xG against.

 

Goals

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Now that Raspadori is back in form and with Esposito continuing to score at a decent rate for a deep forward, Livorno’s numbers could get even better in the second half of the season. As it is, they are only three behind AC Milan as Serie A’s most prolific outfit.

 

What has been setting Livorno apart, and probably why they continue to outperform their xG, is that they create quality chances.

 

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Livorno again led Serie A in attacking efficiency in terms of conversation rate (16%), scoring just under two from an average of twelve shots per game.

 

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Livorno have created many more clear cut chances than their rivals, with Juventus trailing behind in second.

 

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Not only that, but their quality finishers put the ball on target exactly half the time, a rate bettered only by Bologna, who sit in the relegation zone, six points from safety.  The other teams near the top of this category are also all threatened by relegation, which means they only tend to get chances on the break when better teams have over committed.

 

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[Did I take a page from @_Ben_'s playbook and make my own graph to represent a stat I don’t see in game?  Yes I did.  Is this graph really ugly?  Yes it is! Will I ever do this again?  Probably not…]

 

While Livorno also might consistently outscore their xG, the reason there seems to be that Livorno’s xG per Shot is one of the best in the league as well.  Again, the only teams above them are ones that tend to be hitting superior teams on the break, with SPAL and Sampdoria (20th and 10th in the table respectively) above them.

 

Possession 

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Livorno were well behind the league leaders in possession average at 52% compared to Udinese’s 56% per game. Of course, Udinese are one of the most wasteful sides in Serie A (xG/shot at 0.10 against Livorno's 0.12). Verdi had often said that he sees no point in possession without penetration so he will likely be just fine with being simple above average in this category.

 

Conceded

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Livorno are well behind Serie A’s best defense in Inter - which made Livorno’s 2-1 win that much more impressive - but in a respectable 6th place.

 

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Livorno have been giving up more chances than their rivals for the Champions League spots, but while they let in a higher percentage of them than several other teams, they rarely gave up good chances.

 

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With two strikers on 16 goals for the seasons (though this includes the Champions League), it is no surprise that Livorno is near the top of the scoring charts.

 

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Raspadori, on 15 goals for the season despite missing the better part of a month and taking another month to get back into form, leads the Serie A scoring charts again. Esposito is tied for third with 11. It is usually a good sign when a team has two players among the top five goal scorers.

 

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Not only have Raspadori and Esposito scored at an alarming rate, Esposito is also at the top of the charts when it comes to shots on target per 90 mins and xG/90mins, with Raspadori only just a bit behind.

On the other side of the pitch, Mazzini has continued to be a brick wall in goal, with the keeper keeping out Serie A’s third best 82% of shots out. Part of that comes from the lack of good chances given up by Livorno, but the still young keeper is also a top quality keeper.

 

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UP NEXT - Second Half Preview

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First - to answer @Prolix's question, here’s Livorno’s pass volume.

 

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Well below wasteful leaders Udinese (enjoy all that possession in 13th place), but still in the top reaches.  Also a pass completion of 88% is pretty solid for a team that counters a lot.

 

Now on with the preview!

Second Half Preview

Livorno restart the fixture list with a trip to Napoli. Up after that, however, they begin their Italian Cup campaign.

 

Italian Cup

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While the past two years have seen Livorno get past their first hurdle, both times they’ve faced Juventus away in their next game and lost after valiant efforts. This year, however, they have a clear path to at least the semifinals with Genoa their first opponents, followed by the winner of Parma against Benevento. In the semifinal they could potentially meet Inter or Atalanta, but would have the advantage of playing the game at home based on their second place finish. Still, while they will need to guard against complacency in their first two rounds, they look set to at least follow their pattern of progressing one round further than the previous year.

 

When compared with the other half of the Italian Cup bracket, it becomes clear just how lucky Livorno finally got.  Juventus, Milan, Napoli, and Lazio all enter on the opposite side of the bracket.

 

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EURO Cup

Livorno also return to the EURO Cup in late February with a First Knockout Round tie against Turkish side Trabzonspor.  

 

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It will be a winnable tie but one in which Livorno will have to guard against complacency.  It must be said that Livorno are likely better suited to the EURO Cup than the Champions League.  Still, standing in their way of a potential trophy are plenty of quality teams.  Teams like Manchester United, Arsenal, RB Leipzig and EURO Cup specialists Sevilla will join in the second round, not to mention plenty of good clubs like Atheletico Bilbao, Bayer 04, and the all too well known Atalanta - a team that Livorno have not fared well against.

 

Serie A

In Serie A, Livorno face off against a Napoli team that is right on their heels, this time in Napoli. After that the fixture list gets easier in the league, but each of these teams gave Livorno trouble in the first half of the season. The next five games will be a good test of Livorno’s credentials as a Champions League team and potentially as title challengers.

 

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Well I’m back in Norway and that means FM time. First port of call was to catch up on all things good in our world. 
 

fantastic business in the summer!! Esposito realising his potential another striking masterpiece from Verdi 

tough champions league group and yet so close to qualifying!!

league form has really picked up as well now! 

Was a joy reading through and catching up. 

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9 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Well I’m back in Norway and that means FM time. First port of call was to catch up on all things good in our world. 
 

fantastic business in the summer!! Esposito realising his potential another striking masterpiece from Verdi 

tough champions league group and yet so close to qualifying!!

league form has really picked up as well now! 

Was a joy reading through and catching up. 

Good to have you back!

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Livorno Do the Double Over Napoli

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Livorno’s traveling fans had much to celebrate as their side were able to honor Giuseppe Verdi’s 200th game in charge with another 2-0 win over favored Napoli. The loss, and the milestone, must doubly hurt for Napoli’s board, who twice tried to hire Verdi as their manager. Instead, Verdi’s Livorno have just beaten them for a fifth time in a row.

 

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Napoli had hoped for revenge at home, especially having been in strong form, but instead they fell to the same 2-0 scoreline. Once again doubters will point to Napoli’s 60% possession, but when Livorno win three successive games against quality opposition without conceding it becomes clear that these wins are earned. While Napoli had a few decent chances, Livorno had their share too, and better ones. In fact, the two times they did score were actually in two of their worst chances.

 

The strategy by Verdi was clear from the first whistle. Though they still counter-pressed when they lost possession and tried to make things difficult for Napoli keeper Dragowski when he looked to distribute the ball, they used both strategies as a way of covering their retreat rather than to aggressively win the ball back. All in all, Livorno defended a bit deeper than usual, and focused on limiting the space that Napoli could operate, their 5-2-2-1 strangling the passing lanes that Napoli wanted in midfield.

 

“We wanted to force them to be perfect if they wanted to score,” Verdi explained. “Napoli have been very good offensively this year.  Chase them and they get what they want and can pull you out of position with their good playmakers and quick wingers. Make them earn it and they have to be perfect. Lucky for us they weren’t perfect today.”

 

Napoli was able to make inroads down the flanks, but the cost ended up being dear. In the 52nd minute right wingback Galves intercepted a pass deep in his own half, and found Palumbo surging into the huge space opened up by Napoli’s winger and fullback, who were caught too far upfield. Napoli’s center back was forced to close Palumbo down, but that allowed Esposito to surge into the space behind him. Palumbo put the ball into his path, and while it initially seemed to send Esposito too far wide, the forward hit his shot with such pace that Dragowski could not keep it out.

 

Moreo, on for Raspadori as Verdi looked to see out the game, was set to clinch the game in the 83rd minute after being only for Dragowski to keep his low shot out with an excellent save.

 

Five minutes later it seemed that Dragowski’s save was going to earn Napoli a point when forward Mariano, Serie A’s second top scorer after Raspadori, found himself in a good position near the edge of the area, but he was harried by a covering Bani and Mazzini denied him with a strong right hand to lift his shot over the bar.

 

Moreo then made up for his inability to convert earlier by pouncing on another fine Dragowski save, this time from Esposito, to guide the ball into the net and ensure Livorno took all three points.  The goal was again made from Napoli pushing too far forward down their left side, with Esposito’s initial shot meeting Palumbo’s cross from a wide open flank.

 

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Napoli might feel aggrieved, but Livorno were worthy of their win. They remained compact and composed without the ball and with the ball they were direct, but with fluid movement and intricate passing. In the end, Napoli simply couldn’t find a way through Livorno’s densely packed midfield, and in trying left themselves exposed to a team that lives for the chance to counter quickly.

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Transfer News!!!

24/1/2024

After a quiet first few weeks, Livorno suddenly sprang to life towards the back end of the winter transfer window.

 

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Livorno, already boasting Serie A’s most potent attack, has added another potentially lethal young striker to their ranks with Portuguese wonderkid Miguel Francisco. Livorno beat out Napoli for his signature, while the youngster had also been attracting interest from clubs like Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, and AC Milan. Like Modric last year, Francisco was loaned back to his former club, Famalicao, for the rest of the season before moving permanently to Livorno this summer. At only €6m for a player that could turn into a star, it seems Verdi has found another bargain.

 

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Only nineteen, lightning fast Francisco is already absolutely lethal in front of goal, scoring ten in twenty appearances for struggling Famalicao in the Portuguese Premier League. His composure and drive set him apart, and he is rarely flustered, even when under heavy pressure. Critics will say he is a bit selfish and that he does not tend to contribute much to the buildup, but he is still very young and Verdi will likely be hoping that he will mature and round out his game under the tutelage of senior players like Raspadori and Moreo. Yet even if he simply continues to develop as a finisher, Francisco could turn into a top forward. Considering how good Livorno already are going forward, this is a terrifying proposition.

 

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The move comes on the heels of Paolo Farago’s surprise departure from the club. The veteran right back moves to China for €5.5m with another €575k to come if he plays 50 games. While Farago has been a solid starter the previous two years, Galves has taken his place as the first choice on the right. While Verdi made no moves to sell Farago, it seems that the Chinese club made a good enough offer to tempt Verdi to cash in on the aging player before his stock went down too far.

 

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In his place Verdi has brought in English right back Kyle Walker-Peters from RC Lens in France for €2.8m.

 

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A remarkably similar player - though Farago is far better in the air - Walker-Peters will slot right in as Galves’ backup, but will get plenty of game time. Verdi will also appreciate that Walker-Peters is comfortable playing on the left as well as the right. It seems that Verdi managed not only to replace an older player whose pace was declining with a younger one still in his prime, but he has netted Livorno a reasonable €1.5m out of the deal.

 

Also outgoing was Crociata, a player who had not featured for Livorno this season, who left for €2.1m early in the month.

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9 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Jesus that striker!! What a player he is! Has the full works at that age already. Some strike force. Do you feel if someone offered a huge amount for one of your main two just now you’d accept knowing you have him waiting in the wings?

That's half the idea.  AC Milan is sniffing around about Raspadori and as much as I love the player, if they can offer in the €80m+ range ('worth' €49m right now) I might just sell him and see what I can do with it.  Either way, I figure that someone's going to turn his head eventually and while Francisco's not quite the all around player Raspadori is, he could be an even deadlier finisher.

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