Archive for November 7th, 2007

Champions League day 4 – Inter and Roma Fight Back from Behind to Clinch Valuable Points

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

UEFA Champions League logoIt could have been a perfect matchday for Italian clubs: after Lazio and Milan obtained their 6 points on Tuesday, it was it was Inter and Roma’s turn to get on the winning sheet and give Serie A a perfect 12 out of 12 for day 4 of the UEFA Champions League. A little mishap however forced the Giallorossi to tie their game against Portuguese opponents Sporting Lisbon, giving Italian teams a total of 10 points out of 12. Still pretty good. The biggest highlight of the day wasn’t however the point total achieved by Serie A teams in matchday 4, but rather the fact that both Inter and Roma achieved a “come-from-behind” performance that allowed the Nerazzurri to claim the victory, and the Giallorossi to obtain a valuable point for the next round qualification.

Champions Champions League day 4 - Inter 4-2 CSKA Moscow, Sporting Lisbon 2-2 Roma

Most pundits predicted that after this match the Nerazzurri would have one foot solidly into the next ground, but few were expecting such a dramatic come-from-behind victory. From 0-2 to the final 4-2, Inter brought the San Siro house down with 2 goals by Esteban Cambiasso and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who contrary to his average performance against Juve this week-end, was absolutely on fire.

Jo and Vagner Love celebrate the early CSKA leadInter coach Roberto Mancini had a few line-up problems for this one, his injury list already looking pretty long and receiving the addition of Luis Figo recently, hurt in the match against Juve this week-end. As a result, the utilization of otherwise-would-be defenders was necessary, Maxwell in this case who took onto the role of left midfield. The striking force for the Nerazzurri was composed of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Hernan Crespo, with the week-end hero Julio Cruz receiving a turn of rest. On the other wide, coach Gazaeev displayed his usual Brasilerao-rejects formation (ok, I’m being harsh, but come on the formations for this match were almost ridiculous: no Italians for Inter, and less than half of CSKA with Russian players… Platini must have thrown up in his mouth watching this game): Dudu behind Carvalho the playmaker, and Jo and Vagner Love to provide the finish.

Note: Unfortunately a glitch in WordPress made me accidentally delete the rest of the match report, and since I didn’t keep my hard copy on file I’m afraid it’s lost and gone. I’ll refer you to’s article for details on what happened in Inter-CSKA Moscow.


F.C. Internazionale Milano
(YouTube highlights)
GOALSCORERS: 23’ Jo (C), 30’ Vagner Love (C), 32’, 75’ Ibrahimovic (I), 34’, 67’ Cambiasso (I)
INTER (4-4-2): Julio Cesar – Maicon, Córdoba, Samuel, Chivu – J.Zanetti, Dacourt, Cambiasso, Maxwell (67’ Solari) – Ibrahimovic (84’ Suazo), Crespo (63’ Cruz). (bench: Orlandoni, Rivas, Bolzoni, Jiménez). Coach: R.Mancini.
CSKA MOSCOW (3-4-1-2): Afinkeev – A.Berezutski, V.Berezutski (69’ Eduardo), Grigoriev – Zhirkov, Dudu (84’ Taranov), Rahimic, Krasic – Carvalho – Jo (46’ Aldonin), Vagner Love. (bench: Mandrykin, Ramon, Janczyk, Caner). Coach: Gazaeev.


All things considered, in terms of the quality of play they provided this was a modest Roma team tonight, but one that maximized the benefits from their efforts and obtained a capital away result. Something usually uncommon for the Gialorossi: they were forced to let go of the playmaking reins to the benefit of a very well organized, technical and combative Sporting team, something Spalletti’s men aren’t exactly used to in Serie A (usually, they are the ones dictating the play). In addition, they had to deal with last-minute injuries (Max Tonetto in the pre-game warm-up and Philippe Mexes during the match) which didn’t exactly help in their mission. However, for once Roma were as cynical and productive as teams hungry for results should be: they didn’t rest on their “beautiful play” laurels, and when forced to fight for the points they gave a fierce display, and grabbed the equalizer at the death.

Cassetti-goal, Roma 1-0This match even started in the best of ways for the Giallorossi, who only 4 minutes in had already scored the first goal. On the left wing, Mançini fed the ball for Marco Cassetti in the center, and the Italian wing-back eluded the defensive wall of a few opponents, converged on the edge of the box and let a hard shot rip inside the top right corner. A great goal for the 1-0 scoreline.

You would think that with Roma in the lead, the match would turn into a controllable game for the Gialorossi, with their opponents being forced to open up dangerous avenues for counter-attacks. Not so. Sporting reacted to the early deficit as any great team should do: with a cool head, and utilizing their technical potential to perfection. Moutinho, Romagnoli and Liedson notably, were giving the Roma defense shivers with their one-touch combinations, and the fact that the Gialorossi rear guard was already under the public eye for the 16 goals conceded in Serie A, didn’t do much to help the general Roma confidence.

Sporting’s assaults doubled in strength over the course of the first period, and the Portuguese team almost grabbed the equalizer in the 13th: Abel armed a long-range shot which the Roma keeper couldn’t get hold of, and Liedson slammed the rebound home. Fortunately for Roma, the Portuguese player was a bit rough on Doni in doing so, and the score remained 1-0. Only temporarily.

A mix-up between Doni and Mexès leaves the keeper in despair and the defender down injured. Oh, and also 1-1.With Sporting in possession on the right wing, Izmailov centered a low cross inside the box. Mexès tried to intercept, but in so doing anticipated his own keeper causing a collision between the two. Liedson was thus undisturbed to deposit into an empty net for the 1-1 tally.

The half ended with the efforts of Djalò (close header), Perrotta (20m shot), David Pizarro (balloned effort on some good work by Mançini) and Moutinho (edge of the box shot), all wide. 1-1 at the break.

At the restart, the bad news for Roma were the injury to Mexès in the clash with Doni in the first period, forcing Spalletti to replace the French defender with Matteo Ferrari. The Gialorossi however seemed to be better in control early in the half, with a better organization of their defensive block and the hand constantly hovering over the “counter-attack” button. It was a only an illusion however, because as soon as they obtained a little confidence, their opponents harshly punished them: on the developments of a corner-kick, Juan left Liedson unmarked for a short while, and the Brazilian player obliged to deposit a header from point-blank range. 2-1 Sporting.

The Roma players celebrating the first goal… they’d celebrate again in the 90thLuck was on Roma’s side tonight though: on the last play of the match, David Pizarro attempted a somewhat optimistic shot from 30 yards, and found the noggin of Polga. The Brazilian defender attempted to clear the midfielder’s effort, but instead ended up deflecting the ball into his own net, with keeper Tiago frozen to the spot. What a sweat for the Giallorossi, but 2-2 the final score.

Things are now looking good for the Giallorossi, thanks to the 3 point advantage they have over Sporting due to their 2-1 victory in Rome. Man Utd is virtually already qualified for the Last 16, so the key match to obtain the next round ticket will be November 27′s away matchup against Dynamo Kiev.


Sporting Clube de Portugal
(YouTube highlights)
A.S. Roma
GOALSCORERS: 4’ Cassetti (R), 22’, 64’ Liedson (S), 89’ Polga o.g. (R)
SPORTING LISBON (4-1-3-2): ): Tiago – Abel, Tonel, Polga, Ronny – Veloso – Izmailov (89’ Pereirinha), Romagnoli, Moutinho – Djalò (63’ Vukcevic), Liedson. (bench: Rui Patricio, Paredes, Purovic, Farnerud, Gladstone). Coach: Bento.
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni – Cicinho, Mexès (46’ Ferrari), Juan, Cassetti – De Rossi, D.Pizarro – Giuly (91’ Brighi), Perrotta (80’ Esposito), Mançini – Vucinic. (bench: Curci, Antunes, Pit, Barusso). Coach: Spalletti.

Nike’s ‘Put it where you want it’ tour Ep. 4 – Florent Malouda

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

After Wayne Rooney’s manor, Torsten Frings’ Portuguese villa, and Gennaro Gattuso’s training ground, Nike have launched the 4th episode of the ‘Put it where you want it‘ tour (Nike’s latest TV soccer advertising campaign). This time the Dirty Sanchez boys travel to France and meet Chelsea and Les Bleus midfielder Florent Malouda.

Nike’s ‘Put it where you want it’ tour ep. 4 - Florent Malouda

Actually, the filming location for this video was a park just outside of Chelsea, but on the site they put Malouda in France surely because they ran out of space on the map (Rooney already solidly occupying England). Anyways, I think the guys at Nike are running short on ideas for this campaign, as this was probably the least inspired of the 4 videos. Seeing the Sanchez boys morons getting hit in the head with powerful shots gets kind of boring after a while, as the novelty has long worn off. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry too much about future Nike soccer commercials, as the advertisement teams always comes up with great ideas.

While we wait for the next campaign (which shouldn’t be too long now, as Euro 2008 is drawing near), here’s the last ‘Put it where you want it’ video.

Top 100 Soccer Players Ever – by the ‘Association of Football Statisticians’

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

‘Greatest Ever Footballers’ by Headline publishersNote: This is the same article I published on, which you can find here.

It’s that time of the year again. The time when a random (ok, let’s call it ‘well-respected’ if you prefer) football publication makes an “All Time Best” ranking that never fails to create controversy and offend a few people. FourFourTwo did one of those last month, this time it’s the turn of the Association of Football Statisticians’ to make its Top 100, after studying every fact and figure from the beautiful game over the past 100 years. Points are given for goals scored by forwards and clean sheets for defenders. Players also get awarded marks for trophies won, captaincy and the level they played at throughout their career.

It should come as no big surprise to see Pelé at nº1 spot (the Brazilian legend totalling 16,799.44 points), but the names and rankings further down the list are bound to raise some eyebrows. The analysis of The Sun highlights the biggest problems in English Premiership terms:

  • Manchester United legends George Best, Denis Law and Eric Cantona don’t make the top 100.
  • Ali Daei’s 109 goals in 149 games for Iran puts him at 26th – ahead of players like Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho.
  • Diego Maradona is ranked only 6th.

The publishers explain to The Sun that Best misses out because he never participated in a World Cup tournament, and had a fairly short career, while Ali Daei won his place by scoring 109 goals in 149 international matches for… Iran.

The page of the ‘Daily Star’ with the Top 100 article

The Daily Star takes a look the UK players, and finds out that England’s top star is Bobby Charlton in 23rd spot, two places above Scotland’s Kenny Dalglish. David Beckham is 44th, Kevin Keegan at 46th, Gary Lineker 56th, Welsh ace Ryan Giggs 62nd, and Michael Owen 68th. Alan Shearer misses out of the top 100.

Further analysis of the ‘Best 100′ reveals that the top 3 trio is 100% Brazilian (with Ronaldo 2nd and Romario 3rd… and Cafu closing down the Auriverde block at 10th). Figo is 4th, Zidane 5th, and other big names such as Platini (13th), Maldini (15th), Zico (16th), Gullit (18th) and Cruyff (21st) are excluded from the Top 10.

The most represented nation is France (with 16 players), followed by Brazil (11), Italy and Germany (10). England totals 7, Argentina 5 (Messi not included).

Also, in terms of overall football career, the most represented European league is the Serie A. Indeed, most of the Top 100 played at one point or another in Italy: Serie A totals at least 58 players in that ranking, closely followed by La Liga (44), and the EPL (36).

Other represented leagues include the Bundesliga (22), the French Ligue 1 (22), the Dutch Eredivisie (20), and the Portuguese Superliga (5). As for South America, the Campeonato Brasileiro counts 11 players while the Argentine Apertura/Clausura only 8 (most of the Brazilian/Argentine stars obviously beginning their career back home). An interesting note is the total of 13 players who played in the MLS/USL (mostly at the end of their careers), making North America the destination of choice for footballers close to retirement.

As for the Italians, aside from the aforementioned Paolo Maldini the remaining 9 players in the list are Paolo Rossi (43rd), Alessandro Costacurta (49th), Dino Zoff (51st), Alessandro Del Piero (60th), Demetrio Albertini (64th), Giacinto Facchetti (75th), Franco Baresi (77th), Gianni Rivera (78th) and Roberto Baggio (79th).

The Top 100 is revealed in the book Greatest Ever Footballers, on sale next week by Headline publishers for £14.99 (€21.50).

Here’s the full list.

1 Pele Pelé (Brazil)
2 Ronaldo Ronaldo (Brazil)
3 Romario Romário (Brazil)
4 Figo Luís Figo (Portugal)
5 Zidane Zinedine Zidane (France)
6 Maradona Diego Maradona (Argentina)
7 Matthaus></td>  <td>Lothar Matthäus </strong></td>  <td><strong>(Germany) </strong></td>  </tr>  <tr>  <td><strong>8 </strong></td>  <td><strong><img src= Lothar Matthäus (Germany)
8 Muller Gerd Müller (Germany)
9 Beckenbauer Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
10 Cafu Cafu (Brazil)


11 Roberto Carlos (Brazil)
12 Marco van Basten (Holland)
13 Michel Platini (France)
14 Rivaldo (Brazil)
15 Paolo Maldini (Italy)
16 Zico (Brazil)
17 Raúl (Spain)
18 Ruud Gullit (Holland)
19 Eusébio (Portugal)
20 Ferenc Puskás (Hungary)
21 Johan Cruyff (Holland)
22 Alfredo di Stefano (Argentina)
23 Bobby Charlton (England)
24 Jürgen Klinsmann (Germany)
25 Kenny Dalglish (Scotland)
26 Ali Daei (Iran)
27 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Germany)
28 Gabriel Batistuta (Argentina)
29 Michael Laudrup (Denmark)
30 Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria)
31 Dennis Bergkamp (Holland)
32 Frank Rijkaard (Holland)
33 Thierry Henry (France)
34 Pavel Nedved (Czech Rep)
35 Gheorghe Hagi (Romania)
36 Peter Schmeichel (Denmark)
37 Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine)
38 Sepp Maier (Germany)
39 Didier Deschamps (France)
40 Lilian Thuram (France)
41 Enzo Francescoli (Uruguay)
42 Hakan Şükür (Turkey)
43 Paolo Rossi (Italy)
44 David Beckham (England)
45 Jean-Pierre Papin (France)
46 Kevin Keegan (England)
47 Marcel Desailly (France)
48 Oliver Kahn (Germany)
49 Alessandro Costacurta (Italy)
50 Clarence Seedorf (Holland)
51 Dino Zoff (Italy)
52 Patrick Kluivert (Holland)
53 Jari Litmanen (Finland)
54 Daniel Passarella (Argentina)
55 Bixente Lizarazu (France)
56 Gary Lineker (England)
57 Ronaldinho (Brazil)
58 Sylvain Wiltord (France)
59 Bebeto (Brazil)
60 Alessandro Del Piero (Italy)
61 Davor Šuker (Croatia)
62 Ryan Giggs (Wales)
63 David Trezeguet (France)
64 Demetrio Albertini (Italy)
65 Patrick Vieira (France)
66 Jürgen Kohler (Germany)
67 Laurent Blanc (France)
68 Michael Owen (England)
69 Youri Djorkaeff (France)
70 Frank De Boer (Holland)
71 Emilio Butragueño (Spain)
72 Hugo Sánchez (Mexico)
73 Rudi Völler (Germany)
74 Djalma Santos (Brazil)
75 Giacinto Facchetti (Italy)
76 Kanu (Nigeria)
77 Franco Baresi (Italy)
78 Gianni Rivera (Italy)
79 Roberto Baggio (Italy)
80 Oscar Ruggeri (Argentina)
81 Gheorghe Popescu (Romania)
82 Jon Dahl Tomasson (Denmark)
83 Raymond Kopa (France)
84 Carlos Valderrama (Colombia)
85 Rui Costa (Portugal)
86 Gary Neville (England)
87 Edgar Davids (Holland)
88 Claudio Taffarel (Brazil)
89 Paul Scholes (England)
90 Diego Simeone (Argentina)
91 Bryan Robson (England)
92 Roy Keane (Rep of Ireland)
93 Brian Laudrup (Denmark)
94 Henrik Larsson (Sweden)
95 Fabien Barthez (France)
96 Michael Ballack (Germany)
97 Jan Koller (Czech Rep)
98 Edwin van der Sar (Holland)
99 Robert Pirès (France)
100 Johan Neeskens (Holland)