Archive for March 15th, 2008

AS Roma vs. AC Milan Preview – mCalcio Talks Tactics, De Rossi and Pirlo Talk Fun

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Roma vs. Milan (Serie A)

It’s bound to be a very entertaining Serie A week-end: on Saturday, Udinese vs. Lazio to whet our appetite, Roma vs. Milan for the main course, Juventus vs. Napoli on Sunday for dessert. The main action however, will undoubtedly be on the field of the Stadio Olimpico of Rome, where a Scudetto-chasing Giallorossi will face a Champions League-hopeful Rossoneri. Waiting for Manchester United in April…


The good news for Spalletti involve the recuperation of Juan: the Brazilian defender did this week’s training with the rest of the team, and should regularly feature in the starting line-up on Saturday. Marco Cassetti (shoulder injury) and Philippe Mexes will however be absent, enabling Matteo Ferrari to replace the French center-back at the heart of the Roma defense. Alberto Aquilani will likely get the start over David Pizarro in midfield.

Roma predicted line-up (Roma vs. Milan, March 15, 2008)


Ancelotti smiles: Clarence Seedorf and Marek Jankulovski are back. But Ancelotti is also sad: Alessandro Nesta didn’t recover on time, and will join Ronaldo, Dida, Cafu, Serginho and Inzaghi on the injury list.  He will likely be replaced by Daniele Bonera as right-back (favored over Massimo Oddo), thus moving Kakha Kaladze and Paolo Maldini to the center. Jankulovski will feature as left-back. With the recovery of Seedorf, everything else should stay as ‘normally planned’ for the Milan coach, who will undoubtedly pick his favorite 4-3-2-1 Xmas tree formation. Ambrosini-Pirlo-Gattuso should feature in midfield, with Kaká-Seedorf supporting lone striker Alexandre Pato. 

Milan predicted line-up (Roma vs. Milan, March 15, 2008)


Daniele De Rossi vs. Andrea Pirlo

Azzurri teammates Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo will be at the heart of the action on Saturday, ready to face off in a battle of defensive tackles and pinpoint distribution. Roma Channel and Milan Channel got them together for a double interview, parts of which are posted below (fresh from La Gazzetta‘s English-section website):

Daniele De Rossi vs. Andrea Pirlo (Roma vs. Milan)

What is the first thing that springs to mind when I say Roma-Milan?
De Rossi:
I think of matches against the best and most prestigious team in Italy. I particularly remember a game that finished 3-0 when I was a ball boy: Sebastiano Rossi went mad because we were taking our time to give him the ball”.
Pirlo: “I think of great games and I hope this one will be too”.

What do you think of when I say Rossi/Pirlo?
De Rossi: “A friend, Azzurri team-mate and a good person. The best playmaker in the world over the last six or seven years”.
Pirlo: “Of the great memories of playing international football together”.

Daniele De RossiTell us about your friendship.
De Rossi: “We met during the initial get-together before the Olympic Games and hit it off straight away. We have even been on holiday together”.
Pirlo: “We even became room-mates when on international duty after Nesta retired. We have a great relationship”.

Good and bad points about the other.
De Rossi: “The good thing about Andrea is that he doesn’t go looking for the spotlight: he doesn’t always feel he has to say something clever, like so many other people do. His flaw is that some people think he’s a sulker, which isn’t true at all. He was very supportive when I was sent off during the World Cup”.
Pirlo: “He’s great, he makes me laugh. I haven’t found any bad points yet. Perhaps that he is too good a player…”

Who makes the biggest contribution to the team in terms of league points, De Rossi or Pirlo?
De Rossi: “Pirlo brings Milan more points than I do for Roma”.
Pirlo: “I think we are both important and make significant contributions”.

Andrea PirloYou both appear in advertisements…
De Rossi: “As an actor I’d give Pirlo 7.5 or 8 out of 10; his foul temper was very convincing…”
Pirlo: “De Rossi is a good actor, I’d have to give him an 8″.

Roma-Milan, win or lose?
De Rossi: “Tell Andrea to lose: we might even be able to take the championship off Inter…”
Pirlo: “I’d prefer to win and see Milan finish ahead of Fiorentina”.

Roma-Milan, how will it turn out?
De Rossi: “We’ll win this one: we did it at their place and we can do it again”.
Pirlo: “The three points are vital for us”.

You’re sitting in a bar with Materazzi: who pays for drinks?
De Rossi: “Pirlo, he’s the richest”.
Pirlo: “The bar owner…”

And as a bonus feature, here’s the ad mentioned in the interview (also featuring Marco Materazzi). Time to brush up on your Italian :) but if languages aren’t your thing, the Molto Calcio blog’s got the ad explained here.

MISN – Winter Lachine 07-08 game 21 (vs. Ericsson)

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Ricard, unofficial sponsor of MISN Impossible

MISN? What’s this?

Hello MISN,

On Saturday March 15th we played game nº21 of the Winter 2007-08 Lachine indoor league, vs. Ericsson.

After a short stop in the red, MISN Impossible were now back in the green with a two-game winning streak under their belts (5-4 vs. Wood Gundy and 6-2 vs. Kelly’s Leg). More importanly, our 6-2 victory last week was (in all honesty) the best soccer produced by our team in a very long time, the kind of display that makes a neutral observer think “Wow, players of that team are really in synch with each other”. A good omen for matches to come, since today we were now two games away from the end of regular season.

Our opponents for the day were Ericsson, a team just above MISN in the Division 2 standings. Our previous encounter this season (back in December) had ended 3-3 after a hard-fought battle, in which Güven scored two and Jonny one. Neither of these players were here today, so it was going to take something different to get the win today. Hopefully something similar to what we had seen in the match vs. Kelly’s Leg last week…

Attendance-wise, we started the week with some early bad news: Santi got a ligament injury last Monday (playing with another team) and will likely have to stay out of action for at least one month. Ouch! :(

Our run of bad news however continued the day of the game: Eric apparently was in no shape to play soccer this morning (being very obviously hung-over), but fortunately those he was supposed to ride with went by his house and took the shirts left in his care. Also Jon (who confirmed his presence only at the last minute) was not there for car pick-ups, and had turned off his cell phone (making it impossible to get in touch with him). Great. Finally, Saad (who I had spoken to the night before) had assured me he’d come, but was a no-show (guess his friend didn’t lend him the car to come to the game after all).

Bottom line, out of the originally planed 10 players, we were two people short. However, on the front of good news: Nafee made a surprise turn up, freshly arriving from Vancouver (he was away for work). So in the end, we started the game with 9 players, 7 starters and 2 substitutes, pretty much like last week.

1) Absent long-term: /
2) Injured long-term: Tevin, Güven, Santi
3) N/A this week: Eric, Jon, Saad, Saber

Here was our line-up:

Kevin / Marco
Bardia / Can

The first couple of minutes, the two teams observed each other without trying too hard. Most of our players had just arrived to the field (especially those who had to take the bus), and barely had time to warm up/stretch. In addition, playing on a Saturday morning is never easy, especially for those of us with weird sleeping cycles or who like going out partying on Friday night.

Our ball possession and passing transitions in the first 5-10 minutes were quite good: we were cycling the ball well from one wing to the other, creating space and attempting to go for the shot. The Ericsson defense was however able to block our attempts for the most part, and start off dangerous counter-attacks when our defenders were left with a man-disadvantage. Fortunately, most of these resulted in speculative long-range attempts which were either wide or neutralized by Jan.

Our first big chance came about 10 minutes in, when after a series of rebounds and attempted shots, the ball dropped to Tim right to the penalty spot with no defenders within 4 meters. Instead of going for power our Montreal-born striker chose to place his shot, but it turned into a very weak central attempt that the Ericsson keeper neutralized without any problems. A good chance missed.

Fortunately, a few minutes later we went ahead, after a good run of ball possession. Can obtained the ball on the right wing, and provoked his marker into a one-on-one duel. Beating the Ericsson defender and going towards the goal line, our Turkish striker was then left with only one option: put the ball across goal for someone to tap in. Marco had made a run from his defensive position (taking a defender with him) and I guess the ball took a deflection from the Ericsson player, landing to Tim on the second post for a very easy finish. 1-0 MISN!

That was the goal we needed, in order to alleviate some pressure off our backs: even though we were dominating the play, “un accident est si vite arrivé“. We continued to press forward, especially through Can who was constantly taking the Ericsson defenders one-on-one, and often succeeding in his dribbles. Starting from the right wing, our Turkish striker put in a good fake to create a big space for a left-footed shot, but his effort rattled the crossbar before rebounding back into play and being cleared! Argh, so close!

The half ended on a 1-0 scoreline, with much of the plays to the advantage of MISN. However, we could be creating a lot more scoring chances with our ball possession, and needed to be shooting on net more. With the current scoreline, we were still at risk to be conceding a goal which would tie the game.

In the second half, we resumed our good work from the first, but this time took more chances towards the net. Bardia and Alex had a few good shooting attempts (wide), Ericsson had one huge chance to tie the game (a re-directed header setting up one of their strikers at the penalty mark, ensuing shot over the bar) before the carousel of “OMG” moments started.

First, some good work by Can on the right set up Tim at the penalty spot (once again) for a one-time shot, but our striker’s effort was directly at the keeper, who parried away. Minutes later, the same situation repeated itself (this time Nafee the provider) and with more space Tim could control the ball, before aiming an accurate instep shot towards the left post. The Ericsson keeper however went to full extension to deflect the ball into corner. Moments later, it was Nafee’s turn to try his luck and once again the delivery was dead-on accurate (inside the right post). Once more however, our opponents’ nº1 pulled out a super-save out of his hat and kept his goal safe. Unbelievable!

The good side of things is that we were continuing to shoot on net, so it was only a matter of time before we producing that goal. Meanwhile, the Ericsson strikers were keeping our defense on their toes, danger potentially lurking from anywhere. Fortunately today we had Kevin in state of grace, as our center-back was getting his foot at the right time wherever there was danger.

Eventually, our efforts were rewarded as Can obtained the ball on the left wing, rolled it forward to clear a defender, and then set it up for a left-footed finish. The low shot took a slight deflection off the defender/keeper, but had enough power to end its course into the net. 2-0 MISN! Phew, we needed that!

At this point, we managed to play more relaxed on account of our two-goal cushion. We still allowed a little too many offensive incursions to our opponents, but fortunately they were often making a mess of it (the rest of the time Kevin was there to clear the ball). About 5-7 minutes from the end, we finally increased our lead to 3 goals, as a through ball on the left wing landed to Can, who was somehow able to turn around and tackle it into the net, inside the left post. 3-0 MISN, and game effectively over.

We had one final chance with Bardia, as he obtained a good feed from Nafee on the right wing, but our Iranian playmaker blasted the ball over the bar with the net wide open! Shame…

3-0 final score

Can (2)

Yellow cards:

Overall, we played this game quite well. We were creative in offense, improving our shooting average as the game progressed, and could have scored a lot more goals had it not been for some excellent saves made by the opposing keeper. Ericsson were ranked above us in the standings, so it’s always nice to beat a stronger (on paper) opponent.

Compared to our last game however (6-2 vs. Kelly’s Leg), we were a lot less attentive in defense I thought. Our man-marking was often way off, and had our opponents been more cynical and capitalized on their scoring chances, it could have caused us a lot of problems (especially while we were only leading 1-0). This I’ve noticed, is a recurring factor in this 2007-08 season unfortunately: our defensive work has simply not been up to par to our usual standards.

We now have one more game left in the regular season: next Saturday we will be playing the nº1 ranked team (and likely Division 2 champions) Spartans!! It will be a very good opportunity to measure the progress we have made so far, and prepare us for the PLAYOFF round. From now on, bring your A-game to every match boys… it’s crunch time!