Archive for December 12th, 2007

Champions League Day 6 – A Regular Day at Work for Already-Qualified Inter & Roma

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

UEFA Champions League logoMatchday 6 of the UEFA Champions League wrapped up on Wednesday night, in an atmosphere of semi-indifference for the Serie A teams. Indeed, before the matches even started everyone knew that out of the 4 Italian teams in contention 3 were already through to the next round (Milan, Inter, and Roma) and one had been eliminated Tuesday (Lazio). So it was all a matter of bragging rights, especially for Inter which, on top of their qualification ticket, had already earned the mathematical first spot in their group. The boys of Roberto Mancini however, spent little time on thinking how much effort they were going to give out tonight: with a lone goal by Julio “El Jardinero” Cruz, the Nerazzurri defeated PSV and continued their virtually unstoppable march in the 2007-08 season.

The situation was a little more delicate for Roma, who could have potentially grabbed the lead of the group by beating Man Utd at the Stadio Olimpico (and would have therefore avoided other first-ranked teams, in the Round of 16 draw for the playoff stage). Fate had other plans for the Giallorossi though, who were forced to a 1-1 home tie with the Red Devils, courtesy of the goals by Gerard Piqué and Amantino Mançini.

Champions League Day 6 - PSV 0-1 Inter, Roma 1-1 Man Utd

The question that Roberto Mancini and all the Inter fans should be asking themselves at this point, is the following: is the Inter team of this moment good enough to make it all the way to the CL final in Moscow? Can they maintain their absolutely relentless streak of decisive performances, and important victories? Evidence seems to suggest so: the 1-0 away win to PSV Eindhoven is just further proof that Inter’s resources seem to have no limit. When called into action, even the backup players seem to find every ounce of motivation to make it big, and it’s no coincidence the Nerazzurri have only lost 2 games out of 21 so far in the season, utterly dominated Group G of the UEFA Champions League, and are set for a repeat of ther 2006-07 Serie A Scudetto.

Believe it or not, Inter had not fielded a 3-striker formation for over a year (last season’s away game to Cagliari), but tonight coach Roberto Mancini decided to put some faith in his offensive performers, and promoted Julio Cruz to yet another starting role in the team. Pairing him in attack were Hernán Crespo and David Suazo, a perfect combination if you think about it (power and speed) and it was no coincidence that the first chances Inter obtained came from the speedy incursions of the Honduran striker (first a through ball for Santiago Solari deflected by Gomes, then a shot by Cruz saved on the line by Mike Zonneveld).

With Primavera baby Francesco Bolzoni dictating the pace in midfield, Inter were even dominating most of the ball possession. The only thing for the PSV players was to try their luck on free-kicks (through Afellay and Zonneveld), but with little success. Instead, their task got considerably harder in minute 28 when, following a Marco Materazzi long ball to David Suazo, PSV defender Edison Méndez was forced to upend the Honduran striker who had gotten through on goal. The red card was inevitable, and the Dutch players were now forced to play the remaining 60 minutes one man down.

Eventually in the 2nd half, after a series of almost embarassing misses for Julio Cruz, Inter wrapped up the match in a tight package and it was game over for PSV: the Argentine made amends for his previous mistakes and deposited a tap-in goal into the net, following some amazing dribbling work by… once again, David Suazo. 1-0 Inter. For Cruz, this was goal nº4 in the last 5 games, and it also allowed Mancini to rotate his team a little bit (in J.Zanetti, Cambiasso and Puccio for Maxwell, Chivu, and Cruz) before the end of the match.

Inter’s next rendez-vous with European football will be this Friday, for the playoff draw at the UEFA headquarters. The Round of 16 is scheduled for February 19/20.


PSV Eindhoven
[Match Highlights]
F.C. Internazionale Milano
PSV EINDHOVEN (4-4-2): Gomes – Marcellis, Salcido, Alcides, Zonneveld – Mendez, Simons, Afellay (65’ Aissati), Culina – Farfán (62’ Perez), Lazovic (84’ Jonathan). (bench: Roorda, Rajkovic, Fagner, Bakkal). Coach: Wouters.
INTER (4-3-3): Julio Cesar – Córdoba, Rivas, Materazzi, Maxwell (86’ J.Zanetti) – Bolzoni, Chivu (68’ Cambiasso), Solari – Crespo, Cruz (75’ Puccio), Suazo. (bench: Orlandoni, Maicon, Esposito, Federici). Coach: Mancini.


Roma meanwhile, earned their second draw in their last 2 games (after their unfortunate 1-1 tie to Livorno this week-end) but on this occasion, the medicine will have probably been much easier to swallow for the Giallorossi. The most likely reason was because instead of the Amaranto, facing Roma today was Manchester United which is always a tough nut to crack. Of course, every fan couldn’t help but think about the 7-1 rape the Red Devils inflicted on the Giallorossi last season, but the coaches and players knew better: with the qualification spot already in the bank and both teams having tough matches to prepare for in a few days (Roma will be travelling to Torino and United will have to face Liverpool), this was the opportunity to rotate the squads and try out some new players.

At the start of this match Roma were, as dubbed by Gazzetta‘s Riccardo Pratesi, like a “Sleeping Beauty”. While Sir Alex Ferguson had left his entire starting defensive line-up off the gamesheet, as well as Cristiano Ronaldo, those that did step on the field tonight had every intention of demonstrating what they were made of. So the first 10 minutes bore witness to an almost asphyixiating Red Devil domination, who tried to send their strikers through with penetrating passes.

Soon enough though, Roma woke up. It took a little disallowed goal for Francesco Totti (offside on Mançini’s through ball) to shake up the Giallorossi, but after that Luciano Spalletti’s boys were much more alert. In particular, they kept a tight defensive block and were ready to exploit their speed on the ensuing counter-attacks, which forced the Man Utd rear-guard to remain vigilant. Nevertheless, it was Manchester who maintained most of the ball possession, and repeatedly went near to score with John O’Shea (save by Doni) and Wayne Rooney (wide shot from 20 yards).

Eventually United’s efforts were going to get repaid, because on minute 34 Nani delivered a corner-kick right to the Gerard Piqué‘s noggin, and the Spanish defender (given way too much space) adjusted his header past Doni. 1-0 Man Utd.

The Red Devil goal had at least the merit to give the Roma players a serious shake, and the Giallorossi immediately replied with back-to-back opportunities to score: Mançini exploited a Francesco Totti pass and slammed a left-footer onto the crossbar, Francesco Esposito arrived for an open-net header but sent the ball over! Then minutes later, Mançini was once again dangerous and forced Tomasz Kuszczak (back-up for Edwin Van der Sar) to parry away into corner. Worth mentioning that Esposito had missed a similarly (seemingly) easy header, on a perfect Cicinho cross with the score still tied. 1-0 Man Utd at the break.

In the 2nd half, Spalletti inserted Daniele De Rossi for Rodrigo Taddei (who picked up a knock), and moved David Pizarro to a more offensive position in the center. Roma tried to continue their assault onto Manchester’s goal, but it would be the visitors who once again would have the first chance of the half: on a corner-kick delivery, Michael Carrick and Cicinho went for the challenge, the ball looped up in the air and would have entered the net, had it not been for Doni’s prompt deflection into corner.

Roma replied a few minutes later with a powerful 22m shot by Ahmed Barusso (narrowly wide), imitated by Chris Eagles 3 minutes later (instep shot on the run exploiting Nani’s pass, wide from 10m out). Then Manchester blew away their chance to make it 2-0, as Rooney sent a delightful ball through to Louis Saha, but the Frenchman’s 12m one-on-one duel with Doni ended to the advantage of the Roma keeper.

Eventually, Roma found the tying goal in the 71st, exploiting yet another counter-attack: Mirko Vucinic (who had come on for Esposito) directed the orchestra on this one, as he moved forward with great pace, put the ball back for Mançini, and allowed the Brazilian winger to control, and place an accurate shot past Kuszczak’s arms into the net. 1-1.

Nani could have won it for Red Devils, but his attempt at a chipped shot didn’t catch Doni by surprise. But speaking about Vucinic, the Montenegrin was decidedly on form tonight: hitting the post 1 minute after the Roma goal, and otherwise running everywhere up and down the field. Precisely the kind of performance from someone you’d think would NOT put into orbit a chance from 2m out in the 90th minute, but I guess life is full of mysteries. :)

The match thus ended 1-1 with a very entertaining half, leaving Roma at 2nd rank spot of Group F. The Giallorossi will now be hoping to avoid some of the European powerhouses, when the playoffs draw takes place on Friday afternoon.


A.S. Roma
[Match Highlights]
Manchester United
GOALSCORERS: 34’ Piqué (M), 71’ Mançini (R)
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni – Cicinho, Mexès, Ferrari, Antunes – D.Pizarro, Barusso (61’ Giuly) – Mançini, Esposito (61’ Vucinic), Taddei (46’ De Rossi) – Totti. (bench: Julio Sergio, Panucci, Juan, Pit). Coach: Spalletti.
MANCHESTER UNITED (4-4-2): Kuszczak – Simpson, Piqué, Evans, O’Shea (53’ Brown) – Eagles, Fletcher, Carrick, Nani – Rooney (72’ Dong), Saha. (bench: Heaton, Lee, Hewson, Brandy, Eckersley). Coach: Ferguson.


MISN – Winter Lachine 07-08 game 8 (vs.

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Ricard, unofficial sponsor of MISN Impossible

MISN? What’s this?

Hello MISN,

On Saturday December 8th we played game nº8 of the Winter 2007-08 Lachine indoor league, vs.

After our victories against Hellas and R.R.C, MISN suffered a bit of a halt last week when we came stumbling against a very resolute Ericsson team. We obtained many scoring opportunities (definitely more than our opponents) but struggled on the scoreboard in a game which we otherwise dominate. The final 3-3 scoreline didn’t mirror how the game had went down, but it was nonetheless two lost points for us, and this week we were determined to get back on the winning track right away. Our opponents for the day were, a team with 16 points in the standings (5 wins, 1 tie and 1 loss), 32 goals scored and 13 goals conceded. A team of approximately MISN‘s level therefore.

Attendance-wise, we were once again in emergency-situation (in fact even worse than last week). With Ludo, Can, Tevin still absent long-term, Bardia still away to Dominican Republic, and Jon still injured, this week we had to deal with the unavailabilities of Santi (ski trip) and Kevin (family event). Our pre-match emergency subs recruiting had gone fairly well though, since we were counting on a total of 10 players today (i.e. 7 starters and 3 subs).

However, two of our emergency subs (Musti and Saad) didn’t show up at the last minute (the first due to some kind of commitment, the latter because he was stuck outside his apartment without his keys, or so he claims). Bottom line, we were going to start a delicate match with only 1 sub… not ideal. On the upside though, our regular keeper Jan was back to Montreal and was ready to defend MISN‘s goal. Bruno was also back from Vegas, Nafee back from suspension, and we called upon emergency services of Tim and Yilmaz once again.

1) Absent long-term: Can, Ludo
2) Injured long-term: Tevin, Alex, Jon
3) N/A this week: Kevin, Santi, Bardia

Here was our line-up:

Bruno / Yilmaz

As the game started, we waited a few minutes to evaluate our opponents, but then immediately pushed forward in order to score some goals. We had our first shooting attempt fairly early in the half, as Güven got through on the right wing and armed a shot, but it was over the bar.

Minutes later, on a good passing transition across the center, we obtained a free-kick right on the edge of the box. With the players forming a wall, Marco came running forward from his wing-back and immediately shouted for Nafee to slide the ball to him. That move surprised the defense a bit, because our Italian wing-back had now a free try on net from a good position, but the angle of his shot was too wide and the ball went rolling past the post.

At this point in the game we had clearly the upper hand, not necessarily in terms of ball possession but rather what we were doing with it. When Nafee obtained the ball in midfield, he would always set up Güven or Tim for a dangerous wing attack, and eventually on one of these, we deservedly got on the scoreboard.

As Güven got through on the right wing, he had one player facing him to challenge his run. Rolling the ball back to himself, our Turkish striker fooled his marker to make a hasty intervention, then slipped the ball past him to get in the clear. Taking a few steps towards the goal, Güven‘s low shot went rolling onto the far corner leaving no chance to the opposing keeper. 1-0 MISN!

Unfortunately our lead was short-lived (God I hate writing that sentence… it’s getting quite redundant by now, and we’re only in game 8 of the season… :roll: ). Following a lost ball in attack, the MISN defenders received little support from their strikers, which allowed the players to combine in a few short passes. The final pass allowed the ball to be sent in the clear on our left wing, and the ensuing hard shot by the opposing striker overpowered Jan, as the ball slipped through his hands and entered the net. 1-1.

Then, luck started to fu** with us. And when I say fu** with us, I really really mean it. Sorry for the vivid imagery, but this was more like a brutal rape than an ordinary lay. Allow me to explain.

First, about 13 minutes into the game, Tim went to challenge a ball down the left wing and obtained what seemingly looked like a rolled/twisted ankle. This forced our striker to exit the game temporarily and leave us with no substitutes, 7 vs. 7.

Then, at some point midway through the 1st half (i.e. less than 5 minutes after Tim’s injury), Bruno and an opposing player went to challenge an aerial ball, and unfortunately for us our Franco-Mexican defender grabbed the short end of the stick. With both players in mid-air, Bruno’s face connected… not with the ball, but with the defender’s elbow. In particular, that apparently resulted into the lower part of Bruno’s jaw (you know, with all the sharp teeth) jamming right into his own gums.

In retrospect, it was probably (most likely in fact) an unintentional foul (albeit the play was dangerous), but needless to say that the results weren’t pretty (especially for Bruno). Our defender remained lying on the ground, bleeding profusely and in terrible pain, unable to move his face. It took a good 5-10 minutes before we could move Bruno to the sidelines, wipe up the blood on his face, and wait for an ambulance to arrive.

Shortly before the paramedics arrived, it was about 17:30 and we had lost 15 minutes already. Consulting amongst ourselves and with the referee, we decided to continue the match directly from the 2nd half and hope for the best (after all, we had come to play soccer and so had our opponents, and Bruno said he’d be alright with the ambulance on their way). Oh, but did I mention that Tim’s injury turned out to be quite serious, and effectively ruled him out of the game? Yeah… now had to play one full half with 6 players against 7. Great…

So, our tactics for the half were going to be simple: Marco, Eric and Yilmaz would form as tight a defensive block as possible, and we would leave Nafee and Güven up front to provide the striking power. Nafee would act as a center midfield, coming back to help in defense if necessary, while Güven would remain up all the time to avoid turning our penalty box into a siege. 

Ironically, and contrary to all logical expectations, we were the first to regain the lead (yeah, despite the man-disadvantage). On a corner kick by Nafee from the left, the defense completely went to sleep and allowed Güven to connect with the cross, undisturbed in the center. Our Turkish’s striker accurate header went past the keeper on the right, in for the goal. 2-1 MISN.

Surprised? So were our opponents. They’d be even more surprised a few minutes later, when we scored goal nº3 (remember, we were still playing one man down here…). Güven was sent the ball deep on the right wing, but lost it to an opposing player. Not giving up, our Turkish player chased down the wing forcing his opponent to an awkward turn to get through. Bad move, because that allowed Güven to steal the ball close to the box and pass it to the center for Nafee: our Moroccan playmaker controlled it, and placed an accurate left-footed instep shot to the far bottom corner. All the players called for a foul on Güven’s challenge, but the ref waved play on. 3-1 MISN, against all odds.

That was the end of the MISN scoring storm, because our opponents had really been stung in their pride and came running at us with full speed: it was time to retreat and dig into our trenches.

In the following minutes, we blocked down most of the scoring chances: Eric parried a few, Marco made a last-ditch tackled block on a hard shot from the left, Yilmaz was running up and down the field stealing balls and feeding the attack. We were holding tight. Most of their shots were weak or too central anyways, and when they weren’t, Jan made a few important last-ditch saves that kept us afloat.

Not for long.

Remember I mentioned luck fu**ing with us (I used another word actually, but you get the point)? Well… it turns out that the 3-1 lead we had at this point was just a big fu**ing tease by some divine power. A power which had made us find a gold treasure chest, but had intended all along to take it away from us later on, right from under our noses and when it hurt the most.

On a left-wing corner-kick for, the cross was sent in to the far post over everyone’s head. It landed to one of their players who immediately went for the counter-cross and adjusted a lay-up header to the center. This move confused our defenders, allowed a striker in the center to get free, chest the ball to the ground, and execute a low shot past Jan into the goal. 3-2.

We continued to resist a few more minutes, but the pressure was really piling onto our defense. Güven and Nafee were starting to feel exhausted from the defensive/offensive work, and it didn’t take too long before we conceded the tying goal.

On a good passing combination by the players, the ball transitioned from the edge of our box through to our right wing: with a pass back to the center, our opponents managed to get a striker in the clear and arm a left-footed shot into the top right corner. Absolutely no chance for Jan. 3-3.

Then, the Gods put the icing on today’s cake… the “stick-a-giant-rod-up-MISN’s-ass” cake: trying to challenge a low ball on the left wing, Güven… got injured as well! Yeah… another twisted ankle, would you believe it?

So… we were now playing 5 vs. 7, with tired players all around and opponents pouring in on us from every part of the field. We did what we could, but eventually, they scored on the very last minute of play: through on our right wing on a counter, one of their strikers got sent the ball deep, Yilmaz didn’t close him down, so the player took a long range shot that slipped below Jan’s arms into the goal!!! 3-4. Big whoop.

Ref called full time shortly after.


3-4 final score

Güven (2)


Yellow cards:


Now… 3 days after the game and knowing the full scoop on the injury repercussions of our players, I really don’t know what we should be more pissed about.

Should it be the fact that we had 3 (THREE!) injured players in the same game? Players that will have to sit out on the sidelines until they recover? That’s probably an easy one… not much we could do about that, it’s chance (really bad chance, but still chance). 

Should it be that we lost against a team which, under normal circumstances, we would have absolutely no problem in beating? That’s a good one too. We tend to have a lot of these games don’t we? Stupid games which we end up playing against the odds, for this or that stupid reason.

Or should it be that we came to this game with 10 planned players, lost 2 before it even started, and ended up finishing 5 vs. 7  (regardless of the reasons and unfortunate circumstances)?

That last one guys, is quite honestly what probably pisses me off the most… because its something we can control. I find it inexcusable that we got to the point that we start each game with no more than 4-5 “regular” players on the roster: we always have to call up emergency subs because this player or that player has a problem, is away for the week-end, is receiving a visit from a friend etc. etc.

Just allow me to say one thing guys: we’re all friends, and God bless I love you all to death, but when someone doesn’t show up for a game (for whatever reason) I feel a little bit that I’m “being let down” inside. When you tell me that you’d rather go to the gym than come play with us, it hurts. When you end up being locked out of your house because you forgot your keys, I sympathise with you but you fu**ed up, and because of it we’re going to have to play without you. It all adds up.

Now, it’s been over 3 years I’m playing with MISN and in those 3 years I have never missed a game out of laziness, because I had other priorities, or because I didn’t look at the game schedule and booked a doctor’s appointment. That’s just me though, that’s the importance I give to playing for this team (which I’m fond of), and in playing the sport that I love. More than a team, MISN has grown to be like a family to me (and I’m sure to most of you as well).

Now, I’m not asking any of you to rethink your life priorities: work and family by all means should come first. What I simply ask is that if you have to miss a game, please let it be for a really really good reason. I’m looking at our team roster right now (the one Tevin sent me), and I see a list of “confirmed regular players”. Out of those 11-12 players, two have only played 3 games, two have played none (and I’m not counting those that we knew were going to be away for a while, such as Can in Abitibi and Tevin injured). That’s not a very good level of commitment in my book guys.

Next Saturday, we will be playing against Wood Gundy. We will have to do without Güven (out with damaged ankle ligaments probably, expect a long recovery process), Bruno and Tim all out injured. Not to mention myself (off to Europe) who’s going to miss the next 3 regular season games. Our player list is getting smaller and smaller.

The team needs you guys, look into your hearts and rally together because this is crunch time.

All the best, and long live MISN