Italy: the buzz around Italy is that the results of the match-fixing hearings, and specifically the punishments handed out. For the sake of space I won't go into a lengthy discourse here but the most high-profile name on the list of perpetrators was Juve coach Antonio Conte while coaching at Siena in 2010-2011; he failed to report to the authorities that a fix was on. He was willing to accept a 200k euro fine and a three month ban but the FIGC sent it back for review stating the penalty was too lenient. Conte and Juve plea-bargained but the prosecutor declined it. Tuttosport are reporting that the ban will be longer, 4 months, and the fine will actually be lessened to 100k in euros. Conte will not be able to train, interview or have any contact with the club, its staff or players during that time. Further penalties to players and teams involved will resonate throughout Serie A.
Spain: the debacle of the Spanish U-23 side that was sent to contest for Olympic gold is noteworthy. This is a side that sent Euro 2012 winners Juan Mata, Javi Martinez, and Jordi Alba along with their much decorated group of U-21 stars; many of them undisputed starters for their respective teams. You play three games in the group stage and lose two of them, drawing their final meaningless match today against Morocco? Try to excuse it: that it's not a major tournament or that injuries took their toll, or that the "wrong players were sent", trust me there is more than a bit of Real Madrid versus Barcelona rhetoric beyond that excuse alone, but none of it fits. This is a systemic failure from top to bottom. It does not affect the World Champion squad at all, but there should be a reassessment as to how the RFEF plans for these underage tournaments in the future.
England: the only saving grace to the Olympics in London, and believe me these are few and far between, is that we are seeing the emergence of a new Brazil squad for the ages. They are playing with flair, panache and they are winning with a style I haven't seen from them for decades. This is at last a return to their roots, joga bonito of course, but lacking the naivete that many called them on after the 1982 debacle. This looks like the first steps to putting out a dominant side for the next World Cup in Brazil, or it could just be that they're playing some horrible competition, they won't be tested in qualifiers (host nations don't need to) and we are all setting them up for failure in 2014.
read more: Target On: Ignoring the Olympics