Archive for September 21st, 2008

Cagliari 0-1 Juventus: Amauri Taking Injury-Plagued Bianconeri By the Hand… (Serie A Matchday 3)

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Composite word formed by “calcio” and “champagne“.
Typically utilized by the Italian press to describe a free-flowing, short-passing, very technical and spectacular kind of footy.

In other words, pretty far from the spectacle Cagliari and Juventus gave us Sant’Elia today. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a snooze-fest, but damn was it scrappy. Plenty of ball possession intertwined with bad passing, and not a lot of shots on goal to show for it. In everyone’s defense, Juve had Del Piero and Trezeguet out injured (not to mention Camoranesi), while Cagliari… well, are last, so that would explain a few things.

“Thank God for Amauri” must be saying Claudio Ranieri though. The ex-Palermo striker once again provided his team with the GWG, something which in the absence of David Trezeguet (kicked to the curb for three months at least, due to knee problems) may become more and more of a regular feature at Juve.

(From Gazzetta dello Sport): So, while the ADP-Trez duo was left to watch the match from the sidelines, Ranieri proceeded to a more-or-less revolutionized line-up for this one: Mellberg on for Legrottaglie at center-back, Salihamidzic for Grygera on the right, Marchionni for Camoranesi, Marchisio for Poulsen, and a two-man striking duo composed by Iaquinta and Amauri. On the other end, Cagliari manager Massimiliano Allegri opted for Alessandro Matri as his main striker (in lieu of Jeda and Acquafresca), supported by Larrivey.

The match started with Juventus taking charge early on (a seemingly valid Amauri goal was called off in the 3rd minute), but without Camoranesi, the team severely lacked in the unpredictability department. Even the energy of Pavel Nedved wasn’t sufficient to energize the visitors’ midfield, in which Marchionni’s dribbling accuracy left to be desired and Sissoko was shining, but for all the wrong reasons (losing half a dozen balls in less than 10 minutes due to poor passing).

Thus, the main first half Bianconeri tactic became long balls kicked towards Amauri, who exploited one his strong points (aerial play) and tried to redirect to the passes to Iaquinta. It was really the component that was working best in Ranieri’s team, with both strikers running energetically after every ball, and imposing their physical play to shield it and wait for their teammates’ overlaps. Thus in minute 39, the pair got rewarded for their good efforts: a Marchisio cross from the right-wing was “cushioned” by Iaquinta, enabling Amauri to apply a short-range (near) bicycle kick. 1-0 Juventus.

After the restart, the Cagliari tried to re-invigorate his team’s efforts by inserting Acquafresca, Jeda, and Lazzari in quick succession. On the other end, Ranieri substituted Sissoko (getting overly nervous) with Tiago (who, amidst general incredulity, did not play badly during the short time he was on the field) and Marchisio with De Ceglie. Unfortunately for the home team, the changes had very little effect on the pace of the game: the Bianconeri still kept most of the ball possession (in particular thanks to a very highly-motivated Amauri), while Cagliari struggled to create any substantial scoring (in fact, shooting) chance.

Before the match ended, Matri went for a repeat of his good first-half shot on Buffon (who had to be substituted by Manninger at half-time, due to a minor groin strain) and nearly gave Cagliari the equalizer: his 90th ripping half-volley effort was however well parried by Manninger into corner. Close, but no cigar for Cagliari: the Sardinians remain at the bottom of Serie A, while Juventus share the lead with Inter.


Cagliari Calcio
[Match Highlights]
Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 39’ Amauri (J).
CAGLIARI (4-4-2): Marchetti – F.Pisano, Bianco, Lopez, Agostini – Fini (62’ Jeda), Biondini, Cossu, Parola (79’ Lazzari) – Matri, Larrivey (46’ Acquafresca). (bench: Lupatelli, Astori, Burrai, Matheu). Coach: Allegri.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon (46’ Manninger) – Salihamidzic, Mellberg, Chiellini, Molinaro – Marchionni, Sissoko (60’ Tiago), Marchisio (75’ De Ceglie) Nedved – Iaquinta, Amauri. (bench: Knezevic, Legrottaglie, F.Rossi, Giovinco). Coach: Ranieri.


Roma 3-0 Reggina: After the Rain, the (Roman) Sun Always Shines (Serie A Matchday 3)

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Third time’s the charm for AS Roma. After the (bad) draw vs. Napoli on matchday 1, the (worse) loss vs. Palermo on matchday 2 (and the disaster vs. CFR Cluj in the UEFA Champions League), the Giallorossi can smile again. Three unanswered goals will do that to ya…

On the grass of the Stadio Olimpico of Rome, Reggina could only stand there and assess the damage…

(From Gazzetta dello Sport): The Luciano Spalletti cycle isn’t over just yet. The 3-0 victory over Reggina (the first of the season) puts the Giallorossi back on track, and adds some very necessary gas in a tank which seemed to be running on empty lately. Nevio Orlandi’s Reggina tried to resist but due to their lack of attacking presence up front, succumbed under the goals of Panucci, Aquilani, and Perrotta.

Careful though: it’s still early to say that the crisis is over for Roma (their next UCL match against Bordeaux should help clear any remaining doubts on that regard). What’s sure, is that there’s still a lot of work to be done at Trigoria, especially on the team’s mental approach. In fact speaking of team psyche, that’s really the most alarming problem with Spalletti’s team at the moment: morale seems to be at its lowest, and this despite the progress displayed by Aquilani (killer goal today), Menez (slowly gaining in confidence) and Totti (back from injury, and almost “90-minutes” fit). Today’s win should definitely help in that area because if there’s one thing that Reggina’s match demonstrated, it’s that Roma are still capable of that dangerous short-passing style football they have become known for. If only placed in a downhill situation like today…

One thing’s still working in the Roma machine at least, and you may call him the “oil that prevents the gears from grinding”: one Mr. Christian Panucci. Already a goalscorer in mid-week action against Cluj, the 35 year-old vice-captain (with the armband today, due to Totti’s presence on the subs bench) added another to his ever-growing goaltotal today, just before the half-time break. It was a bit of a lucky one too, receiving a pass from Taddei (meant for Aquilani) just on the edge of the offside line, and applying an easy open-net finish after a defensive Reggina scramble. 1-0 Roma.

Luck factor aside, the goal was exactly what Roma needed to gain some confidence, especially because until then the main chance of the game had been created by the Amaranto (a long-range effort by Vigiani inches wide of the post). Alberto Aquilani litterally grabbed the bull by the horns in the second half, penetrating deep on a forward run and unleashing a unstoppable left-foot drive into the top corner. 2-0 Roma, and Spalletti finally being able to breathe.

Orlandi tried some changes by inserting Franco Brienza for Di Gennaro, but it had little effect on the match’s momentum. Roma were now solidly in control, especially thanks to Vucinic (who had an excellent chance saved by Campagnolo) and Totti (on for the last 15 minutes, and almost setting up Perrotta for the 3-0 goal). Speaking of Perrotta though, Simone would have his chance in the dying minutes, as he collected a Totti free-kick parried away by Campagnolo and sent the ball flying past the Reggina keeper. 3-0 Roma, a scoreline that must feel like holy water for Spalletti…


A.S. Roma
[Match Highlights]
Reggina Calcio
GOALSCORERS: 45’ Panucci al 46′ (R), 51’ Aquilani (R), 93’ Perrotta (R).
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni – Cassetti, Loria, Panucci, Riise – Brighi, De Rossi, Taddei, Aquilani (87’ Cicinho), Menez (69’ Perrotta) – Vucinic (77’ Totti). (bench: Artur, Mexes, Montella, Okaka). Coach: Spalletti.
REGGINA (4-4-1-1): Campagnolo – Lanzaro, Valdez, Cirillo, Costa, Vigiani (62’ Ceravolo) – Barreto, Carmona, Barillà (83’ Hallfredsson) – Di Gennaro (46′ Brienza), Corradi. (bench: Puggioni, Alvarez, Santos, Tognozzi). Coach: Orlandi