Archive for September 17th, 2008

Panathinaikos 0-2 Inter Milan: Zlatan Passes, Mancini Scores… Adriano Provides the Cherry on the Cake (UEFA Champions League 2008-09)

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Olé José. Julio Cruz’s likely destined to leave a big “ass mark” on the subs bench this season, but Inter Milan are “cruising” nonetheless. Carried forth by the genius of Ibrahimovic, the timely finish of Amantino Mancini, and a new-found Adriano (ok, he only played for 10 minutes… but that’s stil good right?), the Nerazzurri travelled to Greece and got rid of their Panathinaikos rivals with a convincing performance.

So, bring out the old cliché phrases. You know, Veni, vidi, vici, or that very special Wham Bam! Thank you ma’am that FSC report journalist likes to say. And so on and so forth…

(From Gazzetta): Surprising as it may seem, the start of the match was not easy for Inter. Cambiasso was surrounded in midfield, Mancini undergoing some rough treatment (“illegal intimidatory blows”, as Gazzetta calls them), while the entire backline looked like a wall about to crumble. But it was only a small, fairly painless ripple in the atmosphere at the Olympic stadium of Athens, completely covered in green.

Before Mancini’s goal in the 27th, Inter had managed build three good scoring opportunities. First, Ibrahimovic‘s indecision wasted a good Vieira through ball, then a near-”trivela” and a long-range rocket (also from Zlatan) forced Pana’s goalkeeper to showcase his pouncing abilities. On the fourth opportunity however the Nerazzurri broke through, thanks once again (would you have doubted it) to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The magnificent Swede put up a display of concentrate of technique, agility and power. On the run and eluding his three man-marking defenders, Inter’s nº8 served the ball on a platter to Mancini, who then just had to apply the finish. 1-0 Inter.

On the other end, Julio Cesar kept busy with two saves on Bryce Moon, surprising & dangerous with his long-range blasts (one deflected onto the crossbar) and penetration power (his 1-2 pass with Gilberto Silva was ruined by a poor touch in front of goal). Risky business for Inter, which highlighted the faults in the current Nerazzurri defence (conceding at least one goal per game since their Supercoppa match). From midfield up however Inter was impressive. Scary and impressive, especially with Ibrahimovic and Mancini combining so easily with one another it looked they were playing together for years.

If ref Mejuto Gonzalez had used the same cautioning criteria as in the first half (Matrix getting carded on his first foul on Salpingidis), Cleyton wouldn’t have had time to rip out a left-footed curl (inches wide) from just outside the box that nearly sent the stadium into rapture. A Panathinaikos opportunity synonymous with Inter’s late-match troubles, as shown by Julio Cesar’s saves on Gilberto Silva (free-kick) Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (long-range drive).

At this point, Mourinho decided to tighten the offensive screws by replacing Vieira & Quaresma with Muntari & Figo, as well as by leaving target-man Zlatan on the field. A good move, because the pass for Adriano‘s 2-0 tally came just from the Swedish striker. The embrace between Zlatan and the re-born Brazilian had high symbolic value, especially because of its timing: one year after Inter’s loss to Fenerbahce (during the Mancini-era). In European context, the new José-directed Internazionale could not have had a better inauguration night.


Panathinaikos FC
[Match Highlights]
F.C. Internazionale Milano
GOALSCORERS: 27’ Mancini (I), 85’ Adriano (I).
PANATHINAIKOS (4-2-3-1): Galinovic – Vintra, Simão M.J., Goumas, Nillson (73’ Hristodoupoulos) – Mattos, Gilberto Silva – Moon (82’ Souza), Cleyton, Karagounis (36′ Ivanschitz) – Salpingidis. (bench: Tzorvas, Sarriegi, Tziolis, Spyropoulos). Coach: Ten Cate.
INTER (4-3-3): Julio Cesar – Maicon, Córdoba, Materazzi, Maxwell – Vieira (63’ Muntari), Cambiasso, J.Zanetti – Quaresma (62’ Figo), Ibrahimovic, Mancini (81’ Adriano). (bench: Toldo, Santon, Cruz, Balotelli). Coach: Mourinho.


AS Roma 1-2 CFR Cluj: Stadio Olimpico Stunned in Giallorossi UCL Debut (UEFA Champions League 2008-09)

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

There’s an old 1962 movie with Charlton Heston (don’t ask me how I know that) that has a very appropriate title for this match: “The Pigeon That Took Rome“. CFR Cluj being the pigeon, a.k.a the David that no one knew but who at his first UCL appearance defeated the big Roma Goliath. Italian manager Maurizio Trombetta must be happier than a coondog on a bare leg (sorry, I watched Blue Collar TV last night).

Tonight, the Giallorossi were very from being that Goliath. Decimated by injuries in defense (above all: Philippe Mexes), Luciano Spalletti’s men were unrecognizable and simply put, appalling. To add insult to injury, the Giallorossi can’t even use the “we were unlucky” excuse tonight. CFR Cluj (by now most of you are wondering who the hell these guys are… they’re the Romanian first league champions, so there) fully deserved their win, especially in the second half when they had chance after chance to increase their lead.

As for Roma, defensive problems aside (counting the two from tonight, Spalletti’s men have conceded a total of 8 goals in their last 4 matches) the Giallorossi’s current fitness condition is somewhat alarming. And their new acquisitions aren’t playing up to par either: Riise was substituted, Baptista was a ship lost at sea, Loria was jittery, while Ménez was benched and even preferred to Montella as a substitute. One can only hope that by the time of their next match (October 1 against Bordeaux in France) these problems will have been sorted out. Because after that it’s Chelsea, and they aren’t ones to joke with either.

(From Gazzetta): In the first half, Roma started okay but ended poorly. Christian Panucci‘s header (his home special) gave Roma the lead in the 17th minute after a couple of chances to score by Vucinic, one of which bounced off the post. But back to Panucci: when the Roma center-back finished off De Rossi’s right-wing cross, it seemed as if Roma could finally chalk up their first victory of the season (after losing to Inter in the Supercoppa and ending up with only one point in the first two rounds of Serie A). 1-0 Roma.

Instead, Roma seemed distracted… and alarmingly “stretched out” on the field. The defensive line (without injured starters Mexès and Juan) was very far -perhaps too far- from the other lines: in part because they didn’t step up enough, and also because they were left isolated by the midfielders. Cluj on the other hand, who had nothing to lose, started to test the waters. Beginning to take long-distance shots (and showing discrete skills at it: Dubarbier’s left-footed howitzer was punched over the crossbar by Doni), the Romanian team eventually grabbed the equalizer in minute 27. It was a goal by argentine striker Emmanuel Culio, after a good central run finalized by a diagonal left-footer from outside the box. 1-1

The equalizer gave Romanians wings, and Roma started to suffer. Too much. The half-time couldn’t come at a better time, as the Giallorossi needed to clear their heads. But not before Cluj had one more scoring chance (a good shot by Dani deflected wide by Doni) and Spalletti added his nth player to the hospital ward (Panucci having to sub off for a back injury). Uncool… Even more uncool (“uncooler”?) was the 49th minute double by Emmanuel Culio, after a missed Cassetti attempt to head the ball away. It was a nice goal in all honesty (a great on-the run powerful volley), but one that hit Roma hard and with their pants down. 2-1 Cluj.

With his back to the wall, Spalletti couldn’t wait any longer and played the Francesco Totti card (still very far from top form). Riise made way for the Roma captain (who moved to the central forward position), Tonetto backtracked to left-back, and Vucinic reverted to the left wing. However, the Romanians weren’t done yet. Unable to believe their eyes at how much space they had on the field, Cluj came close to scoring some more: a free-kick from Gabriel Mureşan barely missed the net, while ex-Inter player Sixto Peralta sent a header crashing onto the crossbar.

Roma tried to end the game with dignity. De Rossi and Vucinic (the best ones from Roma today) tried to put up a fight, but the chances to score were few and far between. The Azzurri midfielder grazed the post from outside the area, but it was an isolated chance. Roma gave it one last try during the 4 minutes of stoppage time, to no avail. Truly a bad evening in Rome…


A.S. Roma
[Match Highlights]
CFR Cluj
GOALSCORERS: 17’ Panucci (R), 27’, 49’ Culio (C).
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni – Cicinho, Cassetti, Panucci (47’ Loria), Riise (52’ Totti) – De Rossi, Aquilani – Taddei (77’ Montella), J.Baptista, Tonetto – Vucinic. (bench: Artur, Mar.Brighi, Ménez, Okaka). Coach: Spalletti.
CLUJ (4-2-3-1): Stancioiu – Tony, Cadù, Viera, Pereira – Dani, Muresan – Dubarbier (88’ Panin), Trica (67’ Peralta), Culio – E.Koné. (bench: Nuno Claro, Alcantara, Deac, Didi, Diego Ruiz). Coach: Trombetta.