Archive for September 14th, 2008

Inter Milan 2-1 Catania: Ten-Men Nerazzurri Thanking the O.G.’s… (Serie A Matchday 2)

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

I’ll surprise a few by saying this, but this Inter team reminds me a lot of the late 90′s Juventus. Not so much with regards to playing style, but with respect to a few other factors. For instance even when their match performance is far from extraordinary, the Nerazzurri manage to rake in 3 points, exploiting every fortunate opportunity as it comes (such as the two own goals gifted by Catania on Saturday).

The Etnei might have well taken lead in the first half (Gianvito Plasmati header), Inter didn’t take very long to respond. And this despite Sulley Muntari (some things never change do they?) being sent off shortly before the half. Ricardo Quaresma made a positive debut (combining especially well with Maicon), and there was plenty more for Jose Mourinho to be pleased about in what was the manager’s 99th consecutive home game without a loss.

(From Gazzetta dello Sport): Compared to pre-match expectations, Mourinho decided to have a big “line-up makeover” for this one: Ibrahimovic was the lone man up front, Figo, Balotelli and Quaresma provided support, while Muntari and Vieira occupied the defensive midfield zone (J.Zanetti and Cambiasso left to watch on the bench). In defense, Burdisso took center-back position alongside Materazzi. On the other end, Catania’s coach Walter Zenga (whose return to San Siro was greeted with great cheers & applause), chose Plasmati isntead of Paolucci as his centre of attack.

Inter controlled the game from the outset through an inspired Quaresma, who set the pace for the wing-back overlaps on the flanks. Blocking the Nerazzurri’s way however, was a very determined Albano Bizzari: the Catania goalkeeper intercepted almost all the crosses coming in from the sidelines. The biggest fear for Zenga’s team however came around minute 30, when Muntari somehow got a touch on a Quaresma left-wing cross, only to have his poke miraculously saved by Bizzarri.

At the 42 minute mark Catania mounted its first real attack on the Inter goal, and it was a good one. From the left, Giacomo Tedesco put the ball in the center for Plasmati, and the Catania striker headed the ball past Julio Cesar to put the visitors in the lead. 1-0 Catania.

However, the Sicilians didn’t even have enough time to celebrate: through on the right wing, Quaresma applied his nth trivela magic and Bizzarri (fooled by a Mascara deflection) was caught by surprise. The keeper could do little more than collect the ball from the back of the net, as Inter equalized the score. 1-1.

Inter didn’t have much time for celebrations either however: before the half-time break José found himself down one player, as Muntari was red-carded for landing a slap on Tedesco’s face. Tempers started to flare and remained heated even when referee Antonio Damato stepped in and sent the players to the locker rooms. At that point, both coaches intervened to restore calm.

The Nerazzurri started the second half with great pace, putting themselves in the lead just after 3 minutes. A Maicon long-throw from the right found the header of Christian Terlizzi, only it was in the wrong dirrection: out of Bizzarri’s reach, the ball hit the inside of the vertical post and this was enough for the linesman to raise his flag and award the goal. Highly dubious, as instant replay images contributed very little to clarify any doubts. 2-1 Inter nonetheless.

For Catania this was a big slap in the face, and the visitors risked even more trouble when Burdisso incredibly ballooned from point-blank range in the 58th minute. It was then that Mourinho realized being a goal up and one player down was a good time to take defensive measures: exit Balotelli and enter Cambiasso. The Nerazzurri became more cautious and conservative in their play, dropping back their line of attack. Catania was unable to take advantage, even when Zenga discarded his 4-3-3 formation for a more attacking 4-2-3-1 line-up.

At the 78 minute mark, Mourinho took off off Quaresma (a positive debut for the ex-Porto winer) to give a bit of a run to Amantino Mancini. The ex-Roma player set the field alight with his versatile and energetic play, showing great understanding with Ibrahimovic: a perfect through-on-goal opportunity put the Swede one-one-one with Bizzarri, but the Catania keeper saved off the line what seemed a certain goal. The Catania nº1 outdid himself again a little later, when the Mancini-Zlatan duo produced yet another well-worked shot on goal.

It was the last highlight moment of the match, which saw Inter walk away with its first win of the season. And with plenty more to come probably. Without the own goals…


F.C. Internazionale Milano
[Match Highlights]
 Calcio Catania
GOALSCORERS: 42′ Plasmati (C), 43′ Mascara o.g. (C), 58’ Terlizzi o.g. (C)
INTER (4-2-3-1): Julio Cesar – Maicon, Burdisso, Materazzi, Maxwell – Vieira, Muntari – Figo (46’ J.Zanetti), Balotelli (67’ Cambiasso), Quaresma (78’ Mançini) – Ibrahimovic. (bench: Toldo, Córdoba, Cruz, Adriano). Coach: Mourinho.
CATANIA (4-3-3): Bizzarri – Ma.Silvestre, Stovini, Terlizzi, Silvestri – P.Ledesma, Biagianti, Gia.Tedesco (74’ Antenucci) – Mascara, Plasmati (61’ Paolucci), J.A.Martinez (61’ Dica). (bench: Kosicky, Sardo, Sabato, Baiocco). Coach: Zenga.


Palermo 3-1 Roma: Miccoli and the Rosanero Fire Up Stadio Barbera (Serie A Matchday 2)

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Who knows? Maybe Maurizio Zamparini’s never-ending “I love you… no I hate you, you’re fired” attitude might be working to some degree. The Palermo president probably surely holds he record for most manager terminations in the entire Serie A, and this season’s debut was no exception to that reputation (Stefano Colantuono’s head was the first to go on matchday 1). So, matchday 2 was the opportunity for new coach Davide Ballardini to set the record straight against Roma. Not the easiest of games mind you…

Well, it might be a bit early to say this yet, but Ballardini just might have turned this team around. Down by a goal in the first half, the Rosanero managed to find the psychological and physical resources to overcome their disadvantage, and then turn the game right on its head. O Totti where art thou?

(From Gazzetta dello Sport): As far as poker faces go, Luciano Spalletti lost his very early into the match. Indeed, Roma immediately put their cards on the table with a the very clear intention of scoring first, particularly thanks to Cicinho‘s offensive verve on the right wing. And thus, despite the many new faces compared to the Giallorossi’s “usual” line-up, it only took 8 minutes for the visitors to open the score: a De Rossi-Aquilani-Okaka-Julio Baptista combination was nicely finalized by the Brazilian “Beast”, and Roma were ahead. 1-0.

What the Giallorossi hadn’t factored in into their calculations, was Ballardini’s uncanny ability (as demonstrated in last year’s tenure with Cagliari) to turn a team’s morale inside out as if it were a freshly washed piece of laundry. The shock of conceding a goal was a fast thing to absorb for the Rosanero, who immediately started to roam forward close to Doni’s box with dangerous intentions (Simplicio, Cavani, and a Miccoli in smashing form leading the way). Cicinho’s offensive prowess was turning to be a double-edged sword for Spalletti, because the right-backs’s efficiency at covering was nowhere near as good as his contribution to the attacking effort.

As a result, it was precisely on that side that Palermo managed to break through, first through Cavani (two one-on-ones with Doni, neutralized by the Brazilian keeper) and then through Fabrizio Miccoli. On the latter chance, the ex-Juve and Benfica striker invented a beautiful dribble on the edge of the box and a smashing top-corner finish to go with it. 1-1 in great style.

Roma were really not in “it” at this point, and Daniele De Rossi’s neck injury before the break certainly didn’t do much to help the proceedings. Palermo on the other hand were galvanized by their equalizer, and their morale boost extended way into the second half (probably also thanks to the Ballardini magic half-time recipe). Fabio Liverani gave everyone the illusion of yet another goal (a great free-kick just inches wide of the post), before Fabrizio Miccoli stuck once again the dagger into Roman hearts: it was minute 56, and the “Romario del Salento” had just exploited a Simplicio steal to poke the ball under Doni’s body. 2-1 Palermo.

Roma were expected to fight back at this point. Spalletti tried alternative solutions by replacing Taddei with French (future) star Jeremy Menez. It had little or no effect. Instead, the Rosanero continued to dominate all of ball possession, offensive creativity, and yes, goals. In minute 73 and set up yet again by Fabio Simplicio, Edison Cavani put the icing on the Palermo cake by sending the ball past Doni for the third time. 3-1 and game over.

Without Mèxes, De Rossi, and Totti, there is just something missing from this “Roma Reloaded” team…


U.S. Città di Palermo
[Match Highlights]
A.S. Roma
GOALSCORERS: 8’ J.Baptista (R), 20’, 56’ Miccoli (P), 73’ Cavani (P).
PALERMO (4-3-1-2): Amelia – Cassani, Bovo, Carrozzieri, Balzaretti – Nocerino, Liverani (59’ Guana), F.Simplicio – Bresciano (84’ Migliaccio) – Miccoli (61’ Lanzafame), Cavani. (bench: Fontana, Dellafiore, Succi, Raggi). Coach: Ballardini.
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni – Cicinho, Loria, Panucci, Riise – De Rossi (37’ Mat.Brighi), D.Pizarro – Taddei (60’ Ménez), Aquilani, J.Baptista – Okaka (76’ Montella). (bench: Artur, Vucinic, Tonetto, Cassetti). Coach: Spalletti.