Archive for October 6th, 2007

Serie A Matchday 7 Saturday – Inter get yet another win, while Atalanta can’t beat Udinese

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

Serie A

Win, win, win… and win again. Inter’s march in Serie A seems to be stuck in high gear, as the Nerazzurri obtained yet another 3 points in their quest for a Scudetto renewal. To pay the price this time were Edy Reja’s Napoli, who despite coming back late into the 2nd half with a Roberto Sosa goal, could not overcome the two early tallies by fellow Argentine Julio Ricardo Cruz.

Earlier in the day, Atalanta couldn’t do better than a 0-0 goalless draw against visitors Udinese, who were playing without their in-form striker Antonio Di Natale. Riccardo Zampagna had the perfect opportunity to put the home team in the lead, but blasted his 2nd half penalty shot onto the crossbar.

Serie A Matchday 7 Saturday - Atalanta 0-0 Udinese, Inter 2-1 Napoli

Atalanta’s 100 years anniversary did not end the way the Bergamo supporters could have wished for: only a 0-0 draw for Gigi Del Neri’s men, despite the good plays produced throughout the game and the excellent opportunity to open the score on a penalty shot. Udinese on the other hand, despite the absence of their iconic striker (Totò Di Natale lost his mother earlier this week) managed to stand firm to their hosts, producing good chances of their own but without ever really stinging.

Riccardo Zampagna’s penalty shot… hitting the barThe team that had the upper hand for a good part of the 1st half was Atalanta, despite the fact coach Del Neri was forced to quickly modify his original 4-3-3 into a hastened 4-4-2 with Antonio Langella as playing second striker. It wasn’t so much that the Nerazzurri dominated possession, but rather that they were able to lull their opponents into a false sense of confidence, before suddenly awakening for the hit. Moris Carrozzieri (1m92) was a constant threat on any set piece situation, such as in the 19th minute on a Fernando Tissone cross, but the giant’s header was deftly parried away by Samir Handanovic.

The Udinese keeper had to summon his best instincts once again on a Langella howitzer minutes later, then again on a Ferreira Pinto shot deflected by Lukovic. On the other end, the first real chance for Udinese came late in the half from a Simone Pepe free kick, which Atalanta keeper Ferdinando Coppola skilfully parried wide after a wall deflection. The half ended with another two good chances for Atalanta, first through Simone Padoin (wide), then Fernando Tissone on a good Langella cross (also wide). The 0-0 scoreline at the half didn’t tell the truth about a match who’d been quite exciting thus far.

Zampagna can’t believe it… he had the golden chance to win the game for AtalantaThe 2nd half however was another story. Atalanta immediately lost Manuel Belleri for a thigh knock, forcing Del Neri to replace the defender with Max Pellegrino. Then, both managers attempted to play their winning wild card by inserting offensive players (Sergio Floccari and Marino Defendi for the Nerazzurri, Gyan Asamoah for Udinese) but to no effect.

10 minutes from the end, a cross from the Atalanta side was sent into the box, and Lukovic and Pellegrino tumbled to the ground after a short contact. For referee Dondarini this meant a clear (but generous) penalty. The designated spot shooter for Del Neri’s men was Riccardo Zampagna, but his powerful effort hit the crossbar!! What an opportunity missed for the home team, leaving the match to a final 0-0 scoreline.

 Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio
ATALANTA (4-3-3): Coppola – Rivalta, Carrozzieri, Capelli, Belleri (52’ Pellegrino) – Tissone, De Ascentis, Padoin – Ferreira Pinto (56’ Floccari), Zampagna, Langella (62’ Defendi). (bench: Ivan, Bernardini, Guarente, Defendi, Muslinovic). Coach: Del Neri.
UDINESE (3-4-3): Handanovic – Zapata, Felipe, Lukovic – Mesto, Inler, D’Agostino, Dossena – Quagliarella, Floro Flores (65’ Asamoah), Pepe. (bench: Chimenti, Coda, Zapotocny, Eremenko, Paolucci, Ferronetti). Coach: Marino.

As for Inter-Napoli, it was another victory for the Nerazzurri, and another double for an Inter player: following Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s steps, Argentine striker Julio Cruz provided the winning goals for Roberto Mancini’s team today, and continued the Nerazzurri’s 42-match scoring streak. For 80 minutes this fixture was essentially a one-team affair, and when Sosa brought back some hope for Napoli in the 80′ minute mark, it was already too late.

“El Jardinero” powerBoth coaches fielded their usual formations for this match: Napoli started with a 3-5-2 line-up with Marcelo Zalayeta and Ezequiel Lavezzi providing the striking power, while Inter put on their solid 4-4-2, with Ivan Cordoba and Walter Samuel keeping guard in the rear (Cristian Chivu was also back for the Nerazzurri) while Cambiasso-Figo-Stankovic-Cesar were in charge of the playmaking duties. The last-minute surprise for the Nerazzurri was the Mancini’s preference for Cruz instead of Hernan Crespo.

In the end though, who can blame the Inter coach for his choice: the Argentine striker was the author of two beautiful goals both scored within a 15 minute time period. The first one (in the 20th), was the result of series of defensive mistakes, all stemming from a hazardous Gianluca Grava control that set off the Nerazzurri counter. Ibrahimovic exploited a good ball by Luis Figo, challenged his markers on the edge of the box (all the Napoli defenders converged onto the Swede), and slipped a ball for an unmarked Cruz ready for the finish. 1-0 Inter.

The second one in the 35th, was a beautiful long ball by Dejan Stankovic for Cruz, as Grava kept the Argentine onside. “El Jardinero” controlled the ball with his chest, before slamming a powerful left-footed shot into the right part of the goal. 2-0 Inter.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Julio Cruz: a winning combinationNapoli tried their best to fight back, attempting to feed the ball through to their lone strikers Lavezzi and Zalayeta, but they were being submerged by the excellent ball control of the Inter players, who could count (once again, are you surprised?) on the amazing form of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. In the 2nd half, Mirko Savini had a good opportunity to reduce the lead for Napoli but hit his shot wide, nothing however compared to the chance of David Suazo (on for Cruz) minutes later (the Honduran missed the goal by a few inches after a great pass by Figo).

Eventually, out of nowhere, Reja’s team managed to get on the scoreboard: a great cross from the left wing by Mariano Bogliacino found the header of Roberto Sosa, who transformed into goal his only chance of the game. 2-1. Reja tried a move of desperation by inserting yet another striker (Emanuele Calaio) into the mix, but it was too little too late. Inter grabbed another 3 points, and improved on their league record of last year: after 7 games, Mancini’s team have an additional 2 points compared to the 2006-07  season. Huzzah!

F.C. Internazionale Milano
S.S.C. Napoli
GOALSCORERS: 20’, 35’ Cruz (I), 85’ Sosa (N)
INTER (4-4-2): Julio Cesar – J.Zanetti, Cordoba, Samuel, Chivu (46’ Maxwell) – Figo, Stankovic (60’ Burdisso), Cambiasso, Cesar – Ibrahimovic, Cruz (79’ Suazo). (bench: Toldo, Pelè, Crespo, Adriano). Coach: Mancini
NAPOLI (3-5-2): Iezzo – Contini, P.Cannavaro, Domizzi – Grava (56’ Garics), Hamsik (86’ Calaiò), Gargano, Bogliacino, Savini – Zalayeta (79’ Sosa), Lavezzi. (bench: Gianello, Cupi, Montervino, De Zerbi). Coach: Reja.

The ‘Milan situation’: president Silvio Berlusconi and Kaká speak up

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi and Brazilian midfielder Kaka had the opportunity to speak up about the mishaps the Rossoneri team are currently having.

Silvio Berlusconi and the AC Milan team hoisting the Champions League in May 2007Berlusconi defined the current AC Milan crisis as the “worst in the club’s history since he has been at the helm”. Interviewed by the press close to his Palazzo Grazioli home in Rome, the Milan boss recognized that his team is having a really bad moment “We are going through some really bad times (…) it’s the worst crisis since I have been Milan president. It must be said though that refereeing decisions and bad luck have something to do with it”. Berlusconi is however optimistic about the club’s future: “Ronaldo and Pato will make key contributions when their time comes (…) I’ve been hearing great things about Pato”. The Milan president concluded that “We are the title holders for the Champions League, we’re still the Superchampions”.

Kaká, age 25, winner of the FIFPro award for Best Player of the 2006-07 seasonMeanwhile, at the Milanello training ground there are still talks about the “Dida incident”. “The team is with Dida on this one because he’s always been a great help to us, and he’s a winner” said Ricardo Kaká. Recent recipient of the Best Player of the 2006-07 season FIFPro award (the World’s Player Union), the Brazilian midfielder tried to defend his Seleçao teammate concerning the incident at Celtic Park (right after conceding the 1-2 goal, Dida received a light hit in the head from a Celtic supporter, and reacted by first trying to run after his ‘attacker’, then by collapsing onto the ground). “It’s true, Dida didn’t come out into the best of lights on that episode, but it was a difficult moment. He had just conceded a goal, and someone entered the field and slapped him”.

Kaká also talked about the declarations he made in an El País chatroom a few days ago: “That interview was real, I made it after our return from Glasgow”. On that occasion, when the Brazilian player was asked which team he would most like to play with, should he ever leave AC Milan, he answered “Right now I’m playing in a very big club whose main objective is winning tournaments, so I would try to do the same in Spain, at Real Madrid or Barcelona for example”.

Kaká also talked about his discussion with coach Carlo Ancelotti on Sunday: “Everything that took place on Sunday is normal, just an exchange of opinions. I have a great relationship with Ancelotti, there aren’t any problems whatsoever between us”. A few words on the FIFA Club World Cup: “It’s a trophy that I haven’t won yet since I joined Milan. We’ve already lost a final to Boca Juniors, so now we’re trying to work hard in order to win this tournament”.