Can this 24-year-old’s super season get him in the vaunted Italy side for World Cup?


Each week when we compile our Serie A round-up another intriguing name keeps popping up on the screen: Ciro Immobile.

The Torino striker has been absolutely dynamite for his club, leading the league in scoring and daring Italy not to select him for the World Cup. He’s strong in the box, an MLS comparison being Chris Wondolowski.

The best part for the Italian faithful? He’s just 24.

From our friend Alan Finnerty at Soccerly:

The 24 year old is Serie A’s top scorer on 21 goals ahead of legends such as Balotelli, Tevez, Toni, Higuain and Rossi. However, with just one senior Italian cap to his name, many believe he is too inexperienced to be considered a sure thing for Brazil. But as Serie A’s leading scorer, he is also becoming increasingly hard to overlook even though Cesare Prandelli tries to find a balance between talented youngsters and experienced veterans.

Prandelli has also stated his belief that he needs strong athletes throughout his squad given the Brazilian heat and the physical intensity of football’s month long jamboree that is the World Cup. Medical and fitness tests were held at Italy’s Coverciano training complex earlier this month to assist the Italian coach in his assessment of 42 players.

The goals have come against big names, too, with Inter Milan, Roma and AC Milan among the victims. By kicking off an active six-match goal streak with a hat trick against Livorno — in just 76 minutes — he’s bringing that great form right into the run-up to Brazil. With big names like Gilardino, Balotelli and Destro  — maybe even Rossi — fighting for spots alongside him, can he make the big stage?

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia