Archive for September 2nd, 2007

3 penalties against Juve… is this real football?

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

After today’s match against Cagliari, I dare anyone to say the shadow of Moggi and Calciopoli still lurks over the Bianconeri: if anything, it’s Ranieri‘s men who should be entitled to mention the words ”conspiracy theory” today. Fortunately for Juve though, they still remember that to win a game you need to score more goals than your opponent, not necessarily play better.

Cagliari-Juve 2-3

Before tackling the issue (no pun intended) of the penalty calls (plenty more on that later), allow me to begin by stating that this is by far the worst Juve I’ve seen in weeks. No, make that months. Hell, make that the worse Juve I’ve seen since the year 2007 started. It’s already bad enough when you know your weakest link in the team is the defense (that basically forces you to focus on offense to obtain the points). However, when even your midfielders and strikers cannot hold the ball for more than 10 consecutive seconds, that’s when you’ve got a real problem! I’m not exaggerating when I say that is how Juve played for a good 3/4 of the game today, suffering the incessant pressure of the Cagliari players, and needlessly (and systematically) giving away the ball as soon as they got possession back. Now, the ‘Old Lady’ may have lost a good deal of their star players after the relegation to Serie B, but what they haven’t lost is their cynicism and the desire to battle it out until the very last minute! That (and in large part Camoranesi’s contribution) are responsible for Juve’s victory today. 

Giorgio Chiellini tries to contain Pasquale Foggia. The Cagliari youngster was a constant thorn in the Juve defense today.Cagliari set the tone of the game right from the start: push, push, push forward. The agility & technical mastery of Pasquale Foggia on the right wing were a delight to watch for neutral spectators today: that youngster is on the right track of becoming the ‘next Gianfranco Zola’, as they have labeled him at Sant’Elia this season. Needless to say that that’s where most of Cagliari’s chances came in the game, also due to the fact  the Juve defense was leaking from all parts today (especially in the 2nd half). In the first half however, there were only two (or three) chances worth noting: two hard headers by Alessandro Matri and Joaquín Larrivey for Cagliari (set up by, you guessed it, Foggia), and the biggest of them all, a chance for Del Piero (exploiting a kamikaze backpass from Bianco) who chipped the keeper and blasted over the bar with an open net in front of him (could have passed to Trezeguet too).

In the 2nd half, the Cagliari assault began, but funnily enough Juve would be the first to get on the scoreline. The key substitution for the Bianconeri in this case, was the entrance of Mauro German Camoranesi (in for an injured Salihamidzic). Indeed, the Italo-Argentine playmaker was the only one that could adjust his passes accurately for more than 10 yards, a considerably improvement on what the Juve players had been producing thus far. The first Juve goal had little to do with passing and more to do with lucky deflecting though, as a deep cross to the edge of the box ended up being fumbled by the Cagliari defense, hit Camoranesi in the back, and set up David Trezeguet in perfect position for the tap-in.

Trezeguet’s jubilation after scoring the first Juve goalNow here’s where the “Tagliavento show” (the ref for today’s game) began. Minutes after the first goal, the ref awarded a PK for a Legrottaglie shoulder hold on Matri (yup, Legrottaglie’s back ladies & gentlemen, and so are the nightmares of millions of Juve fans out there). Little Foggia stepped up to transform, Buffon dove the right way and even got a hand of it, but couldn’t prevent the goal. 1-1.

15 minutes later, another penalty called against Juve, this time, on a supposedly mistimed tackle of Chiellini on Conti (two penalties in one game? Wait, hell must be freezing over). Replays showed that the tackle was clean on the ball, and fortunately for Juve, that’s exactly what the linesman saw as well. A short talk with the ref ensued, with the subsequent decision to revoke the penalty and award a corner kick instead. On the ensuing kick the Bianconeri defense is all over the place: no one closes down the crosser, and man-marking by the defenders is as accurate as if they had poured a gallon of melted butter on the Cagliari players. Fortunately, Buffon‘s having a ‘super’ day and keeps Bianco’s ‘point-blank shot’ (or make that an ‘almost certain goal’) out of the net.

Camoranesi is congratulated by Del Piero for his brilliant volleyed assistMinutes later, more drama as the Bianconeri get in the lead once more, through a spectacular play by Camoranesi. Receiving the ball back to goal, pass back by the Italo-Argentine to Almirón who returns the pass with a long deep lob. Spotting the Cagliari keeper Fortin off his line, Camoranesi managed to invent a marvelous volleyed chip that is set to end its course into the goal, had it not been for Del Piero applying the insurance finish. 2-1 with 15 minutes to go.

Game over? Far from it. 4 minutes pass and Mr. Tagliavento awards another PK to Cagliari, this time for Zebina hold on Larrivey. Now you can say what you want about either of the 3 penalties (I personally think the 3rd was BS, but that’s just me) but what can be said for certain is that it must have been decades (if it ever happened) since Juve had to concede 3 penalties in a single game. From now on, the first one that mentions to me referee corruption and Juve in the same sentence gets beaten unconscious with a frozen cod. Either way, cue up Foggia again, ball to the left Buffon to the right, 2-2 in the 81′.

There was still time for Zebina and Del Grosso to be sent off (respectively for protesting the 3rd penalty and for double booking) before the final tally of Chiellini, heading a free-kick cross by (yes, him again) Mauro German Camoranesi.

Considering how Juve played, they are lucky to be walking away with 3 points from Cagliari today. However, nothing lucky about the Bianconeri’s burning desire to win, up to the final minute when the last ball is kicked. That, and a certain Italo-Argentine player, is what saved them today.

More details on the other matches to follow later.

 Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 54’ Trezeguet (J), 56’ pen. Foggia (C), 77’ Del Piero (J), 81’ pen. Foggia (C), 90’ Chiellini (J)
CAGLIARI (4-4-2): Fortin – F.Pisano (75’ Ferri), Lopez, Bianco, Del Grosso – Foggia, Conti, Parola, Fini (80’ A.D’Agostino) – Larrivey, Matri (66’ Acquafresca). (bench: Koprivec, Canini, Budel, Biondini). Coach: Giampaolo.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Zebina, Andrade, Criscito (46’ Legrottaglie), Chiellini – Salihamidzic (50’ Camoranesi), C.Zanetti, Almirón (87’ Nocerino), Nedved – Trezeguet, Del Piero. (bench: Belardi, Molinaro, Tiago, Palladino). Coach: Ranieri.

MISN – Summer Lachine game 16 (vs. MU1)

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

MISN? What’s this?

Hello MISN,

On Thursday August 30th we played game nº16 of the Summer 2007 Lachine indoor league, vs. MU1.

Following our defeat vs. co-leaders Trakia last week, MISN Impossible were ranked 2nd in the standings after game 15, three points behind their big rivals. With very few games left in the regular season, our hopes of clinching away the title were dim, but we had to try nonetheless. We set our objective to obtain 9 points over the next 3 games at all costs, and hope that Trakia would somehow slip up.

Ready to start the match…Our opponents for the day were MU1, a team with quite a strange record this season. Champions of the Winter 2006-07 division 1, their form during the summer had been somewhat disappointing. Despite sometimes being capable of producing some very fast-paced action, MU1 had surprisingly lost a good number of games to much weaker opposition, so we didn’t quite know what to expect today. On the upside though, our first encounter this season had ended on a score of 7-4 for MISN (with goals by Can (4), Ludo, Renaud, and Marco).

Attendance-wise, with the month of September only a few days away, it seemed as if the August curse would finally be lifted. Indeed, this week we benefited from many welcome returns as well as some extremely useful emergency subs. Here was our absentee list for today:

1) Absent long-term: Saad, Alex, Renaud, Güven, Can, Santi, Denis
2) Injured long-term: Amer, Tevin
3) N/A this week: Nafee, Abbes, Danny, Zaid, Simiso, Sami, Kevin

The returns I mentioned before included Imad (after 1 week of absence) and Ludo (returning after almost 2 months of M.I.A!). Also, we had three very useful guest-players today: Tim, Jonny, and Dani from our McGill Intramural team!! This meant that we had the luxury of having TWO (2!) substitutes for each zone of the field!

Here was our line-up:

Marco / Bruno
Dani / Imad
Tim / Jonny
AC / Ludo

Following a (bad) MISN tradition, we set off the game on the wrong pace. Due to some car lift problems half of us got to the soccerplexe very late, with 5 minutes before gametime. That effectively forced us to start the match with virtually no warm-up at all, which is far from ideal under any circumstance.

As a result, it didn’t come as much of a surprise that we conceded the first goal, most of our players still trying to get organized on the field. The MU1 players pushed forward on our left wing, setting off a mid-range shot which found our keeper Jan ready to parry. The ball however ended to the feet of Ludo, in a difficuly position to clear it. Our opponents immediately seized the moment’s hesitation to recover the ball, and make a quick pass followed by a quick shot. The trajectory surprised Jan who could only parry the shot into his own net. 0-1.

A few minutes later, it looked as a decidedly uphill game for us when we conceded another goal. Following a lost ball, MU1 set off the counterattack and tried to feed the ball towards our right. I believe the pass was deflected back, and the main MU1 striker ran after it before it crossed the line. With one of our defenders closely marking, he somehow managed to turn around (the marking was obviously not close enough), move back towards the corner of the box and set off a shot. Once again, Jan got his hands to it but could not prevent the ball from rolling into the net after his save. 0-2.So, much like last week, we were trailing already a mere 10 minutes into the game. This looked like another one of those August crappy nights.However, we didn’t despair (far from it). We re-organized, shifted a few playing positions around (notably Ludo to offense and Dani back to defense), and our gameplan improved considerably. A few minutes after MU1‘s second goal, we reduced their lead. Pushing forward, the ball was passed from AC to the center, close to the penalty box. Tim controlled it back to goal, managed to turn around despite the close marking, and sent the ball to the keeper’s left!! 2-1!!

Tim’s return was very useful to MISN, and the Montreal native scored 2 goals for the Men in Blue today

A couple of minutes later, we came back level! Intercepting the ball in our zone, we rapidly moved our troops forward to feed the pass to AC. Trying the dribble, our Turkish striker was tripped by his marker, but with the ref playing the advantage AC managed to slide the ball to an upcoming Ludo in the middle. His one-time shot found the twine, and MISN was level! 2-2!

Then, to complete our lightning-fast comeback, we actually went ahead for the first time! AC got a pass on the left wing from Ludo, took the ball past his marker, and scored a left-footed shot inside the post from a narrow angle!! 3-2 for MISN, with 3 goals scored in less than 10 minutes!!!

The MU1 defense was all over the place at this point, losing all their initial cohesion and compact structure. Following a good start, their morale had now sunk to the bottom, and you know how the saying goes: “beat the iron while it’s still hot!” (or “kick ‘em while they’re down”, I don’t remember which one it is :mrgreen: ). Anyways, we took advantage of our momentum and managed to score another before the break.

Following a foul in our own half, the free kick was taken by Bruno who sent a long ball forward, all the way to AC beyond the last defender. Our Turkish striker let the ball drop, and with the keeper rushing out he adjusted a precise header past him into the net!

So the score was 4-2 at half-time! We had made a great comeback after a rough start, and were now surfing the wave of confidence! All we had to do was keep it up. Our new recruits were by the way the much needed energy spark that the team had been missing in the last few weeks: Tim provided movement and agility, Jonny ball control and power, and Dani accurate passing from the back.

We came back on the field in the 2nd half, and continued right from where we had left off: scoring goals!

Following yet another turnover, Jonny got the ball on the right wing, with only 1 defender to beat. Faking a pass to the center, our new recruit accelerated toward the wing and blasted a powerful shot low into the right bottom corner!! The keeper was surprised and could do nothing to prevent the ball from sneaking in: a great goal for the 5-2 scoreline!!

From then on, MISN‘s domination in terms of scoring chances was total. The MU1 players did their best to bring danger into our zone, especially through their main central striker (very fast & agile), but our defenders always kept him in check, and our backline was well-organized to prevent his teammates from getting through either.

So whenever we blocked an offensive from our opponents, we set off a counterattack, and that’s how we managed to score another 3 goals! First, we scored through Tim again (don’t remember the details, sorry), and then through two quick goals by Bruno and AC.

MISN celebrate the victory with their fans!

With Bruno pushing forward from the backline, our Mexican center-back went through on the right wing, battled with a defender and tried a pass between his legs. The ball was deflected up at knee-level, but Bruno obtained the lucky bounce. All he had to do was then take a small step toward the center and blast a low left-footed shot inside the right post. 7-2!

Our last goal came from a beautifully orchestrated play with some great build-up, starting in our defensive zone: Marco got the ball and passed it down the right wing to Ludo. Our French midfielder made the 1-2 pass with Jonny and obtained the return pass to go deep. Lifting his head up, he made a pass to center for AC, who one-timed to Bardia in the center. As our Iranian playmaker got closed down by defender, he laid off the pass back to AC on the left, who then adjusted a precise shot inside the left post! “Calcio-champagne” like we say in Italian. 8-2!

MU1 did manage to get one back before the end, as their fast striker ran forward on the right wing, made a few cutbacks to confuse our defenders, and forced Bruno to upend him in the box. The PK was duly transformed sending Jan the wrong way.

8-3 final score.

AC (3)
Tim (2)

A great win boys! It sure feels great to get back on the victory train, especially with a convincing 5-goal difference in the final scoreline! August is officially over, and the rest of our players on holiday should slowly begin to resurface in the next few weeks. We’ve got 2 games left, but we can look at them with a little bit more optimism!