Football heroes in all shapes and sizes. By Carlos Rivaherrera

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One Night in Rome: Juventus sink at the Olimpico

They’re not unbeatable. Last night at the Stadio Olimpico, AS Roma bounced back from a previous humiliating 3-0 away defeat to Juventus, to this time knocking them out of the Coppa Italia. Gervinho scored the only goal to qualify Garcia’s men to the semi-final.

The stadium was absolutely packed, with a roaring atmosphere that transformed this encounter into a passionate Italian derby. Photographer Adam Lloyd was amongst thousands in Rome yesterday, capturing the beautiful game through his eyes.

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Italy: The team that was lost and then found

By Anthony Lopopolo. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

There was Leonardo Bonucci, sitting down on the ground, hands over his knees, wondering. It was his ball that didn’t go in, and only his. His teammates didn’t yell at him. No one really could. After Bonucci booted the ball into the sky from the penalty spot, where this semi-final of the Confederations Cup was decided, Jesus Navas scored the one that won the game for Spain.

Before Bonucci, 12 players came and scored their penalties, all taken well, low and high. It’s not the he cracked under the pressure – after all, Bonucci once punched a petty thief at gunpoint – but that he was the only one who wasn’t perfect. So his teammates tried to console the inconsolable. They gave him a hand and rubbed his head and tried to get him up. “But there are no words that can make a difference in these moments,” Giorgio Chiellini, a teammate and friend, told Rai Sport.

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Business Time - AFR Voice, Ep 18.

It’s early May, which in footballing terms generally means one thing: it’s business time. And AFR Voice is punching in for this week’s audio shift with plenty to talk about. Whether it be a 33-man match in Norway, horror challenges on reporters in Denmark, or the hottest thing out of the Madrid branch of IKEA since someone burnt the meatballs, we’ve got it covered.

The Premier League title may be all wrapped up and tucked away safely in Manchester, but there’s still plenty to play for. We’ll be taking a look at the cross-London melee for the final Champions League places, whilst at the other end, any team not in the top half of the table will be nervously looking over their shoulders as Wigan make their customary late push for survival (if they’re not too busy winning the FA Cup).

Then we hop down into the lower leagues where there was a crazy final day in the Championship, and Paddy waxes lyrical about the play-offs as the league pyramid continues to shuffle itself for a couple more weeks yet.

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The Pirlo, Mascherano and Makelele: An insight into the role of the Number 6

By Ogo Sylla

The holding midfielder, or defensive midfielder, or number 6 as we can also call it, is a thankless task that often gets overlooked in today’s football of marauding fullbacks, twinkle-toed playmakers and dead-eye strikers. However what is most underappreciated about the number 6 (as we will refer to it from henceforth) are its complexities that most fail to recognize. In fact, the failure to do so can be key to why some sides may struggle to find the right balance. Indeed, the defensive number 6 sits – on a tactical sense – at the heart of the game and at the center of the pitch where everything goes through him. It is for this reason that it is important to recognize the many intricacies of that position and its numerous roles in order to better appreciate it.

It is important difference – albeit just a seemingly semantic one – between a holding midfielder and defensive midfielder. But these are just types of the number 6, which can be broken down in three different roles: the destroyer, the deep-lying playmaker (regista), and the volante. The destroyer is exclusively a defensive midfielder, while the regista is a holding midfielder. The volante, however, has the particularity of belonging to both types of the number 6. Being such a special case, we will touch on the role of the volante last. 

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Chelsea to splash £100m?

While Chelsea’s billionaire owner Roman Abramovich is no longer the Premier League’s richest owner, as Manchester City’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan now holds that honour, Abramovich intends to win the Premier League this season by open his checkbook in hopes of signing Franck Ribery, Andrea Pirlo, and Sergio Aguero. The three together are estimated to cost at least £100m.

John Terry has just recently committed his future to Chelsea last week, but he also told Abramovich that the squad needed strengthening in order to compete over the next few seasons.

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AC Milan Reject Chelsea Pirlo Bid

AC Milan have rejected a part exchange deal for playmaker Andrea Pirlo. Chelsea offered £6.75 million plus the services of Claudio Pizarro.

Milan value the Italian international much higher than the offered sum, consequently Milan immediately rejected the bid. Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani told Sky Sports Italia, “At this price Pirlo is not for sale.”

After joining AC Milan form crosstown rivals Inter Milan in 2001 Pirlo has won one Scudetto and two UEFA Champions League titles.

Milan have fended off interest from former boss, Carlo Ancelotti who has been courting his former star throughout the summer.

Ancelotti hopes to add Pirlo to Chelsea’s other summer signings, Yuri Zhirkov, Daniel Sturridge and Ross Turnbull.

Galliani hinted that Milan could be nearing a deal for Spurs target Klass Jan Huntelaar. The Real Madrid striker is keen to leave since recent signings in Ronaldo, Kaká and Benzema will take priority over the clinical Dutchman.

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