The Italian National Team: Devastating Mediocrity, Defined

For the first time since the 1998-99 season, no manager in Serie A has been fired after seven matches. All twenty teams have decided to stick with their coach, even the terrible ones. It’s a quirk of fate, remarkable only because of the trigger-happy tendencies of Serie A owners past. But there’s one Italian manager who should almost definitely be fired. Unfortunately, he’s the coach of the national team.

Just How Good Is Edin Dzeko, Exactly?

Edin Dzeko is . . . pretty good, I guess? The Roma forward is a pretty good striker in a league filled with pretty good strikers. Dzeko shares Serie A with Gonzalo Higuain, Ciro Immobile, Mauro Icardi, Dries Mertens and Andrea Belotti. That would make it hard for anybody to stand out.

But let's look a little closer at the Bosnian international. Here's a fun stat:

Why Man-Marking Lionel Messi Is Always A Terrible Idea

Conditions conspired to give us a glimpse of a rarely used, outdated tactic on Saturday: an authentic and faithful use of man-marking during Girona’s hosting of Barcelona at the Estadi Montilivi. What this means is that Girona defender Pablo Maffeo was entirely sacrificed to negate the influence of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi — wherever Messi went, there was Maffeo. When Girona were in possession, Maffeo continued to mark Messi. In fact, Maffeo was substituted in the 78th minute after recording only 10 touches.