Archive for February 26th, 2008

Juventus 0-0 Torino: No Real Winner in Turin, Except the Refereeing (For Once) (Serie A Matchday 25)

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Juventus vs. Torino (Serie A)

Serie AWell, for once in the past month (and I do choose my words carefully), a matchday in Serie A took place without refereeing incidents. Granted there was only one match programmed for Tuesday, but one of a very delicate nature. Derbies are never easy to officiate (especially when they bear the name ‘Derby della Mole’) and coming from a week-end of Dondarini-filled horrors in Reggina-Juventus, the spotlight on the ‘man in black’ was shining twice as brightly for this one. However, I’m glad to report that referee Nicola Rizzoli performed very decently tonight. As for the game itself, it was a hard-fought battle, higher in physical highlights than technical ones: in the end, seeing Juventus and Torino share the points tonight seems like a fair result.

Serie A Matchday 25 - Juventus 0-0 Torino

Tactically, both managers were dealing with some roster problems before this game. Claudio Ranieri had to deal with David Trezeguet‘s unavailability, coupled with Cristiano Zanetti‘s suspension. As a result, Raffaele Palladino got the head start over Nocerino in midfield, causing Mauro Camoranesi‘s shift towards the middle (partnering Momo Sissoko). Up front, Alessandro Del Piero paired up with the returning Vincenzo Iaquinta. As for Walter Novellino, the Torino coach hesitated until the last minute, on which strikers to use for this important match. In the end, he surprisingly picked Alvaro Recoba to start over both Rosina and Di Michele: the Uruguayan playmaker was indeed starting the match with Roberto Stellone.

Marco Di Loreto attempts to challenge Alessandro Del PieroThe first period was rather enjoyable to watch in terms of intensity, albeit not so much in terms of scoring chances. Recoba and Camoranesi were trying their best to fulfill the playmaking role for their respective teams, alternating bits of brilliance with some dodgy passing. To find the first real shot on net of the game, we had to wait until minute 27: a Camoranesi free-kick from the right wing found the header of Iaquinta, and forced Matteo Sereni to spring to an athletic save over the bar. Before and after the header, Del Piero had a few shooting attempts (wide) from his favorite spot: 4-5 yards outside the box, free-kick position.

Torino was trying hard too, attempting to avoid the uncomfortable role of underdog. Gianluca Comotto was playing marathon-man on the right wing, pushing up to provide offensive help then running back to cover his back-line, and the fact the Bianconeri defense was playing very high up the field, considerably helped Torino’s efforts in trying to find space. Simone Barone challenged by Mohamed SissokoHowever, an impeccable Giorgio Chiellini was always there to neutralize the Granata efforts, and thus inevitably the half ended on a scoreless draw.

In the second period, little changed to the way tonight’s game was developing: Juventus dominating the ball possession, and Torino trying to hit back on counters. The appearance of their nº10 Alessandro Rosina (on for Aimo Diana) gave the Granata a much-needed creative boost, and they immediately obtained a few shooting opportunities (through Recoba, Stellone, and Paolo Zanetti). On the other end, the productivity of Camoranesi as a central midfielder was dropping somewhat (his buddy Sissoko wasn’t helping much either, missing an increasingly frustrating number of passes), so Del Piero stepped up to the plate, delivering accurate crosses and nearly lethal shots from set-pieces (his 68th minute free-kick towards the top-left corner was brilliantly parried away by Sereni).

Speaking of free-kicks, Torino nearly took the lead in minute 74, when a great delivery by Rosina found the Juventus crossbar and was then cleared out of danger (Buffon not even hinting a move). Pavel Nedved sent offAside from that huge highlight however, the Bianconeri were the ones who were trying harder: Palladino found the back of the net in minute 62 but saw the goal called off for offside, while a Camoranesi diving header 6 minutes from the end, tested Sereni’s reflexes yet again (Iaquinta and Chiellini missing the open-net tap-in by a hairbreadth).

In the final minutes, frustration got the upper hand in the Bianconeri ranks: sparks started to fly between Pavel Nedved and Gianluca Comotto, with the latter theatrically falling to the ground after getting his hair pulled by the Czech midfielder. Inevitable red card for the Juventus player, who will now miss (along with Chiellini, receiving a yellow) the important match vs. Fiorentina next week-end. With the loss vs. Reggina, this has been a week Bianconeri fans will want to forget very rapidly. 0-0 the final scoreline.


Juventus F.C.
[Match Highlights]
Torino F.C.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Zebina, Legrottaglie, Chiellini, Molinaro – Palladino (63’ Nocerino), Camoranesi, Sissoko, Nedved – Iaquinta, Del Piero. (bench: Belardi, Birindelli, Grygera, Stendardo, Salihamidzic, Tiago). Coach: Ranieri.
TORINO (4-4-2): Sereni – Comotto, Natali (27′ Dellafiore), Di Loreto, Pisano – Diana (48’ Rosina), Grella, Barone, Zanetti – Stellone, Recoba (81’ Lanna). (bench: Gomis, Corini, Di Michele, Ventola). Coach: Novellino.


Goalfest in the Serie A, 86% Made in Italy

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

 Goalfest in the Serie A, 86% Made in ItalyGoalfest in the Serie A, 86% Made in ItalyGoalfest in the Serie A, 86% Made in Italy

Strangers in the Serie A beware! The last week-end of the Italian league was really special for Italian players. Super Borriello scored a hat-trick (including a wonder-strike featured in my ‘Goals of the Week’ selection), thereby also seizing 1st spot in the topscorer charts. Meanwhile, Matchday 24 marked the renewal of players that everyone thought long-lost, and confirmed that a certain talent from Bari Vecchia has gotten back on the champions track for good. Nicola Apicella from KwSport tells us all about it.

Borriello was but one of the many happy surprises provided by Matchday 24, a week-end filled with unbelievable goals, the vast majority of which were 100% ‘Made in Italy’. Indeed, out of the 35 goals scored this week-end, only 5 of them carry the signature of players from abroad: Igor Budan (Croatia, Parma), Cicinho (Brazil, Roma), Hernan Crespo (Argentina, Inter), Mark Bresciano (Australia, Palermo), and ‘Rambo’ Leon (Genoa).

Marco Borriello, age 25But speaking of ‘Leons’, the real lion of this week-end’s fixtures and main man behind his team’s 5-3 final scoreline vs. Udinese, was another Genoa player: Marco Borriello. To truly show off his skills, all the Genoa striker was waiting for was opportunity. This week-end, he got that opportunity and boy, were we in for a show!! 3 goals against Udinese, 15 goals in the Serie A this season, reaching King Trezeguet and his “I’ll-make-scoring-look-easy” friends.  With his second hat-trick of the season, there’s no doubt Marco must have caught the eye of Roberto Donadoni (who had already called him for the Italy-Portugal friendly). There’s a little more than 3 months left until Euro 2008 begins, and with this week’s performance,  the ex-Milan striker is in prime position to be part of the Azzurri expedition to Austria/Switzerland this Summer. Besides, with the non-so-brilliant form period which Alberto Gilardino and Fabio Quagliarella are going through, there’s really no reason why Donadoni should ignore a striker who, at 26 years of age, seems to have achieved full physical and technical maturity.

Emanuele Calaiò, age 26Then there’s Emanuele Calaiò. 38 goals in two and a half seasons with Napoli are a pretty good loot, but lately the ex-Torino striker is having it tough getting some playing time (what with players like Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marcelo Zalayeta doing so well in Southern Italy and all…). This week-end however, Zalayeta was out suspended and Lavezzi dealing with a nasty influenza virus, alllowing Calaiò to get a taste of a starting role again, one which the player will not so easily give up. Indeed, manager Edy Reja’s choice will be all the more difficult when the two unavailable strikers return, because 26 year-old Emanuele was the author of a double on Sunday. Two goals which gave Napoli the edge over Livorno, and which provided an away win that the Partenopei were running after for over 5 months.

Roberto Stellone, age 30And what about Roberto Stellone and Andrea Gasbarroni, both protagonists of the most entertaining match of the week-end, Torino vs. Parma? Stellone, age 30, has had a pretty decent career thus far, albeit one filled with multiple injuries. Roberto is a guy who doesn’t score many goals, but when he does score his efforts are always quite spectacular. Andrea Gasbarroni, age 26He practically saved Walter Novellino’s job as a manager (recall his goal vs. Reggina), and since then the Torino coach has always kept him in the starting line-up. With extremely good results. As for Gasbarroni, his technical talent isn’t up for discussion. His continuity certainly is, but that’s the deal with unpredictable players like Alessandro: when they’re in a moment of form (such as Saturday at the Turin Olimpico) they can really wreak havoc. Two vital goals, one stunner on a free-kick effort.

Alessandro Matri, age 23Franco Brienza (age 28) and Nicola Amoruso (age 33)

Joining the ‘Italian scoring fun’ this week-end, teams like Cagliari (desperately clinging onto hopes of avoiding relegation, getting some help from Alessandro Matri), Reggina (lead by the Franco Brienza/Nicola Amoruso duo), Atalanta (Sergio Floccari), and Empoli (Sebastian Giovinco).

Sergio Floccari, age 26Sebastian Giovinco, age 21

Let’s finish up with a tale of generations: youngn’s & oldies. First there’s Antonio Cassano, who scored Sampdoria’s lead vs. Inter and otherwise displayed another excellent performance. His head certainly seems to be back in order, and that is music for Donadoni’s ears. And then there’s the goalpoacher par excellence, returning for an appearance (a game-winning appearance I might add): Filippo Inzaghi provides the stoppage-time goal giving AC Milan the win vs. Palermo, and proves that no matter how old you get (Super Pippo’s 34), you still have a place at AC Milan (ok, cheap shot).

Antonio Cassano, age 25Filippo Inzaghi, age 34

Anyways, with 30 goals out of 35 scored by Italians, matchday 24 is testament to the fact home-grown talent still has a big say in the Serie A. Sepp Blatter should be happy to be reading this, but as we all know… he hates Italy, so… FU Blatter, and Viva l’Italia!