Archive for November 15th, 2007

Nike & Fernando Torres team up for ‘The Perfect Kick’

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Fernando Torres in ‘The Perfect Kick - The Volley’I’ve been browsing some of the recent Nikefootball videos, and I’ve come across a few of the ‘The Perfect Kick’ campaigns for the Total 90 Laser shoe. This one, which was released this Summer in July, features Spanish Liverpool striker Fernando Torres demonstrating the different shooting techniques for regular, curling, volley and half-volley shots. 

In the words of Rasmus Frandsen, Art Director:We chose Fernando Torres because he’s sort of an all-around striker and he’s not known for doing just a pass or just a wrist strike, but he can do practically everything. So in a sense he is the perfect striker (…) We’re exploring it with different camera angles both to show in detail what it looks like on the actual boot on impact, but also to show the whole body movement that goes into a kick.” 

The videos were filmed using digital high-speed shooting (1000 frames per second!!!). For the non-geeks among you, that’s a lot of frames per second: for comparison movies in movie theatres run at 24 frames per second, which is more than enough for the human eye, but not nearly enough when you want to film slow-motion videos of athletes in action. Nike’s T90 Laser shoe modelStefan Weiss, Cinematographer declared:The most difficult part in digital high-speed shooting is the lighting: just because it is digital doesn’t mean that you don’t neeed any light anymore. Scenes like these are very difficult to light, even for six cameras because normally you need one light for each camera, while what we did here was get a fine light for all 6 cameras, which is quite tricky.”

The Spanish striker enjoyed the moment of being selected as a Nike posterboy:I’m happy to be part of this awesome campaign. The footballers wearing Nike are the best in the world, and it’s an honor for me to have been chosen to be one of them. I hope everything goes well and to participate in many more.”

Links for the all 4 videos can be found below, as well as the the ‘Making Of’ which is quite interesting.

Futsal Euro 2007 Championship Begins

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

UEFA Futsal Championship logoIt’s all starting tomorrow: the 5th edition of the UEFA Futsal Championship (an Euro 2007 of Indoor Soccer if you will). And it’s starting with a clash between giants, a match which features two eternal rivals and big favorites for the champions title, Portugal and Italy.

The set-up for this match is quite particular: Portugal is playing with the home crowd advantage (the entire tournament will take place in Porto, Portugal) but the Lusitanians have never managed to beat the Azzurri so far (3 draws and 2 losses to the counter). In addition, vice-World Champions Italy will be coming back to Portugal for the first time after the slap in the face of 1999, when they tied 3-3 in the final game of the World Cup 2000 qualifiers in Paços de Ferreira, a match in which the Portuguese keeper França continuously moved his goal posts in the final minutes in order to decrease the shooting angle.

Futsal Rules in a nutshell

• Games are played on a rectangular pitch approximately 40m long and 20m wide. Playing surface is usually made of wood or artificial material (flat, smooth, non-abrasive).
• Duration of the match is two periods of 20 minutes, with a 10-15 min. half-time interval. Clock is considered “out of play” (that is, time is stopped every time the ball is out of play for a kick-in, free-kick, corner-kick etc.). Teams are entitled to a one-minute time-out in each half.
• Matches are played 5 vs. 5 (including the goalkeeper). Team roster includes 14 players, with unlimited substitutions allowed.
• Kick-ins are taken instead of throw-ins, and must be taken within 4 seconds of the player taking possession of the ball.
• Fouls & free-kicks: for the first 5 accumulated fouls recorded against either team in each half, the players of the opposing team may form a wall to defend a free-kick. Beginning with the 6th accumulated foul recorded against either team in each half, the defending team’s players may not form a wall to defend a free kick, and all the other players (except the kicker) must remain BEHIND the ball (i.e. behind an imaginary line that is level with the ball and parallel to the goal line). No player may cross this imaginary line until the ball has been struck and starts to move.

The tournament will take place in the Coração de Ouro di Gondomar palace, just at the entrance of Porto. The program for the day, after Portugal vs. Italy at 19:30, will be the other match from group A, Czech Republic vs. Romania. On Saturday, group B will debut with Spain (European & World Champions) battling Ukraine at 15:00, and Serbia vs. Russia at 17:00. Then, November 18: Italy vs. Romania and Portugal vs. Czech Republic, November 19: Ukraine vs. Russia and Spain vs. Serbia. November 21 will be the final day of the group stage, with concurrent matches Romania vs. Portugal, Italy vs. Czech Republic, Ukraine vs. Serbia and Russia vs. Spain. The top 2 teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals (November 23). In 2 years’ time for the next Euro championship, the total number of teams taking place in the tournament will be increased from 8 to 12.

Title favorites

UEFA Futsal Championship trophyIn addition to reigning European and World Champions Spain, the biggest favorites of the tournament are Italy, Russia, and Portugal. “All the eyes are on us” says Venancio Lopez, recently appointed Spain coach after the 15-year reign of Javier Lozano. “We have responsibilities, it will not be easy to win“.

Words of wisdom, because ready to contend the title to the Iberians will be Alessandro Nuccorini’s Italian team, eager to return on the top of Europe after their victory of 2003. “Our main objective is to win” says Nando Grana, the Azzurri captain. “Our group is very strong and united“. Italy will be entering this tournament with a 15-game winning streak record, not suffering a defeat for over 2 years and a half. However, they will be missing the services of their top-notch goalkeeper Gianfranco Angelini, who stayed at home due to family problems.

In addition to Italy, the other contenders Portugal and Russia have valid claims to the title as well, counting respectively on Ricardinho / Alex and Russian-naturalized Brazilians Cirilo and Pelé Junior.

Among the teams that could potentially create a surprise we can find the Ukraine, a group which coach Gennadiy Lysenchuk has considerably improved over the last years (“We are in the group of death but the talent of Sytin, Zamyatin and Khursov makes me a little more confident” said the coach). Then there’s also the Czech Republic of team manager Tomáš Neumann: “We are aiming towards the top 3, even though beating Italy and Portugal will be extremely hard“. Finally, there’s Aca Kovacevic’s Serbia, surprise winners over the Netherlands in the qualifiers, and Romania, which at their first Euro tournament are essentially composed by players from the Cip Deva team (11 out of total team roster of 14).

For more information of the UEFA Futsal Championship tournament, visit their official website.

UEFA Futsal Tournament History

FIFA introduced Futsal as a new discipline in 1988 and Brazil were crowned as the first FIFA Futsal World Cup winners in January 1989. Futsal was rapidly gaining popularity in Europe and the number of Futsal-playing countries increased considerably during the 1990s.

This enthusiasm in Europe was reflected on the pitch and UEFA staged its first European Futsal tournament in Córdoba, Spain, in January 1996. It was won by the hosts in some style and, after three European teams had reached the semi-finals of the World Cup staged later that year, UEFA’s Executive Committee decided, in April 1997, to introduce a full-scale UEFA European Futsal Championship.

Spain celebrate their triumph in 2005The UEFA European Futsal Championship was first held in Granada, Spain in 1999 with Russia running out the first winners in a dramatic final against the hosts. The match finished 3-3 before Russia prevailed in a shoot-out, Konstantin Eremenko converting the winning spot-kick. Spain would make up for that disappointment by winning the Championship in 2001 in Moscow, defeating hosts Russia in the last four before seeing off Ukraine in the final.

Ukraine were back in the final in 2003, but again they lost, this time to hosts Italy, Vinicius Bacaro scoring the only goal of the game. Spain, FIFA Futsal World Cup winners in 2004, reclaimed the European crown in 2005, Andrea and Cogorro scoring in a 2-1 win as old rivals Russia were defeated in the final. The 2007 finals will be played in Portugal from 16 to 25 November.

Note: Special thanks to Gazzetta dello Sport for their presentation article on the UEFA Futsal Championship. Tournament History data courtesy of

Azzurri Match Trials for Scotland-Italy

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Scotland FA (Scottish Football Association)Italy FA (Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio)

While the millions of Italian and Scottish football fans eagerly anticipate Saturday’s ame, today at the Azzurri training ground in Coverciano the Italian national team worked on tactical set-ups. Manager Donadoni alternated his troops many times during the practice, but according to the Italian press seems to be favoring a 4-1-4-1 starting formation, which can be readily transformed into a 4-3-3 when the Azzurri have possession.

The starting line-up should be Buffon – Oddo, Barzagli, Cannavaro, Zambrotta – Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini – Camoranesi, Toni, Di Natale, pretty much what I predicted at the time the international call-ups were made.

In the last half hour of the day, Donadoni oversaw a game between ranks with two different tactical systems, one a 4-4-2 and the other a 4-3-3. Ambrosini and Curci did not take part in the match, but only because of overcrowding.

Yellow pinnies: Buffon – Panucci, Bonera, Chiellini, Zambrotta – Quagliarella, Perrotta, Pirlo, Palladino – Toni, Gilardino
Blue pinnies: Amelia – Oddo, F.Cannavaro, Barzagli, Grosso – Camoranesi, Gattuso, De Rossi – Iaquinta, Lucarelli, Di Natale

The Blue team won the match 4-3 thanks to doubles by Vincenzo Iaquinta and Gennaro Gattuso. Yellow scored through Luca Toni (2) and Alberto Gilardino.

To finish this special report from the Azzurri training ground, here are some pictures of the day, courtesy of Kataweb Sport:


Italy manager Roberto Donadoni preparing the group for Scotland-Italy

Defense & Offense, some good insurance for Italy: Bayern Munich striker Luca Toni (current topscorer of the Bundesliga), and Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon

A golden midfield: De Rossi, Gattuso, Pirlo, and Ambrosini

Rino Gattuso, heart and lungs of the national team, points towards the common goal: “Qualfication for Euro is there, right there…”

Juve’s Raffaele Palladino joins the Azzurri family on the eve of a very important match

Some smiles: Rossoneri players Gilardino and Ambrosini look like they’re having fun just like little kids. It’s been a while at AC Milan…

A photomontage showing Toni vs… Toni

An Italian soccer classic: the coach’s solitude

Luca Toni on Italy’s Next Match vs. Scotland: “90 minutes to play for 2 years’ worth of effort”

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Scotland FA (Scottish Football Association)Italy FA (Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio)

The Scottish team fears him, the top national teams envy his presence, and the entire Azzurri fanbase (but more importantly, Roberto Donadoni) is relying on him for Italy’s next match against Scotland. Luca Toni may be holding the winning ticket for next Saturday, the game that will decide if La Squadra will be going to Euro 2008. In the traditional Azzurri press conference, the Bayern striker talked about Italy’s next match, as well as the latest episodes of violence in Italy last week-end.

Luca Toni during his press conference in the days before Scotland-Italy“Glasgow will be a very hot environment for us Saturday, but as a group we are fully aware of what’s at stake. All those who have been called up, even those with less experience, know how to approach the game, as well as the risks and responsibilities associated with it. Scotland is a strong team, especially at home, and the fact they have stopped their home league games in light of this match, shows they too will be putting everything on the table for 90 minutes.” said Toni. “Will I be decisive? Maybe, I would like to be the man of the match, but my job will only be to make myself available to Donadoni and the group, just as any other player who will step down on the field. We’ll be playing for 2 years’ worth of effort in a period of 90 minutes. Domenech says we’ll be playing for a draw? Starting the game with that mentality will only mean trouble for us, we are a square and tough team, I don’t even want to think about the possibility of not making it to Euro 2008″.

Toni had a few words about the Italian coach Donadoni: “With time, the manager was able to form a very nice group in this Azzurri squad. Like many other players I did not know Donadoni at the beginning, but now I can say with certainty that the group is united, we are all rowing in the same direction: qualifying for the European championship”.

“Soccer has little to do with the death of Gabriele Sandri” commented the Italian striker, regarding this week’s tragedy and associated episodes of violence. “The problem now is to strike down the deliquents and try to bring families back into the stadiums. As players the only thing we can do is behave ourselves on the field, in order to give a good example and keep the tension to a minimum. Stopping the league is not a solution, I would prefer more severe laws and make sure they are enforced, such that those who are going to the stadium for any reason other than supporting their own team, would be denied entrance. I was very moved by the fact someone my own age died Sunday, and to see all these children crying in the stadiums”.