Archive for September 30th, 2008

Bate Borisov 2-2 Juventus: Bianconeri Saved by Iaquinta, Close Shave in Minsk (UEFA Champions League 2008-09)

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

After Catania and Sampdoria in Serie A, Juventus obtained their third consecutive draw in less than a week, this time in the UEFA Champions League. And don’t be fooled by the name: if drawing against Bate Borisov (a Belarusian team at its European top competition debut) might seem like a bad result on paper, the Bianconeri can actually be quite thankful for the point they obtained in Minsk today.

Indeed, his team’s apocalyptic initial 30 minutes (Juve were down by two goals in the 23th) could have very well cost Claudio Ranieri his first defeat of the season, but fortunately Juventus’s reputation as the “team that never gives up” isn’t for nothing. Grabbing the match by the gonads, the Bianconeri held their head up high and managed to grab the equalizer before half-time, courtesy of two tallies by Vincenzo Iaquinta. Scary times in Minsk these days… must be the cold.

Juventus started this match, quite litterally, “horror-style“. Claudio Ranieri had decided to make a last-minute change to his “two-defensive-mids-wing-attack” formation, and inserted Sebastian Giovinco in lieu of Mauro Camoranesi (who moved to central midfield) on the right wing. What may seemingly have been a good move in terms of optimizing playmaking, actually turned out to be a logistics error of colossal proportions. The Bianconeri were spread too widely on the field, always outnumbered by their Bate opponents during ball possession, and without a defensive mid partner to aid him in the center, Momo Sissoko’s recuperation duties heavily suffered.

FC Bate on the other hand, exhibiting a dynamic 4-5-1 formation (with active & motivated players on the wings), immediately took advantage of Juve’s tactical problems. The first goal, arriving partly because of a Chiellini offside trap error and partly because of Legrottaglie’s injury (he’d have to be replaced by Dario Knezevic), was just the tip of the iceberg-disaster yet to come. exploiting a Dmitri Likhtarovich through ball, Bate’s nº10 Sergey Krivets escaped through on goal, dribbled past Manninger and deposited the ball into the empty net. 1-0 Bate. Juve supporters pinched themselves… were they dreaming?

Just 5 minutes later, the (bad) dream turned into a (horrible) nightmare, because the home team made it two. Cue assist nº2 for Likhtarovich, delivering a long cross from the left towards Igor Stasevich on the opposite post. Nedved (what was he doing defending?) missed the interception, and the Belarusian midfielder powered an accurate header towards the far post. Manninger didn’t even move. 2-0 Bate.

At this point, the psychological blow would have been too hard for an ordinary team to overcome. Not for Juve: it was time to put the “grinta” (fighting spirit) factor into the equation. Alex Del Piero sounded the charge (good free-kick attempt below the bar, saved by Veremko), shortly followed by Giovinco and Iaquinta: Super-Seba provided the passing, Vincenzo the finishing. First, a good cross by the Bianconeri youngster (receiving full marks for his first European performance tonight) found the header of the ex-Udinese striker. 2-1.

Fifteen minutes later, and in the last minute of stoppage time, Vincenzo made it two. Another good run and pass by Giovinco was well-finalized by Iaquinta, sending the ball between the keeper’s legs to tie the game. 2-2. Juve supporters now breathing again.

At the restart, Ranieri fixed the central midfield leak by replacing Camoranesi with Claudio Marchisio. Juventus turned to their usual wing-attack formation, coupled with the odd percussion of Sissoko (more and more reminiscent of Patrick Vieira) down the center, but it was still Bate giving Manninger scares. Such as in minute 55, when Aleksandr Volodko was litterally given a “rolling penalty-kick” opportunity, but incredibly ballooned his shot over the bar.

It was however the last scare of the night for the Bianconeri, who picked up the pace and took control of the proceedings. Del Piero‘s contribution growed exponentially, with the Juve captain coming close to the left (chipped acrobatic shot over the goalkeeper) and then the right post (diagonal left-footed effort after a 1-2 pass with Giovinco, wide). It was essentially the last highlight of the game, which even saw the appearance of Amauri (on for Iaquinta) in the final minutes.

In the end, as the Bate supporters celebrated their first point in the UEFA Champions League, Ranieri can be moderately satisfied with the outcome. Sure, Real Madrid went to beat FC Zenit 2-1 in the other game (and now count 6 points over Juve’s 4 in the group), but there’s still plenty of matches left in Group H. Huh? Just four you say?


 FC BATE Borisov
[Match Highlights]
Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 17’ Kryvets (B), 23’ Stasevich (B), 29’, 45’ Iaquinta (J).
BATE BORISOV (4-5-1): Veremko – Kazantsev, Sosnovski, Rzhevski, Yurevich – Likhtarovich (70’ Sivakov), Volodko, Kryvets, Stasevich, Nekhaychik (86’ Mirchev) – Rodionov (92’ Pecha). (bench: Gutor, Bliznyuk, Skavysh, Sakharov). Coach: Goncharenko.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Manninger – Grygera, Legrottaglie (18′ Knezevic), Chiellini, De Ceglie – Giovinco, Camoranesi (46’ Marchisio), Sissoko, Nedved – Del Piero, Iaquinta (81’ Amauri). (bench: Chimenti, Salihamidzic, Molinaro, Marchionni). Coach: Ranieri.


Fiorentina 0-0 Steaua Bucharest: Viola Hit A Romanian Wall (UEFA Champions League 2008-09)

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Second consecutive draw for Fiorentina in the UEFA Champions League. The Viola could not do better than a 0-0 result on Tuesday, blocked by a tough & well-organized Steaua Bucharest side, surprising not only in their disciplined defensive organization but also with their fair share of technical players (above all, António Semedo, Banel Nicolita, and Dayro Moreno).

And so, not even the free-kicks of Adrian Mutu and the pouncing shots of Alberto Gilardino were enough, as Cesare Prandelli’s boys had to settle for a draw. In light of the other match’s result from group F however (Bayern 1-1 Lyon), grabbing a point shouldn’t be considered all that bad. In other words, the glass is half full for Fiorentina… for now.

(From KwSport): Prandelli’s main plan for tonight, relied on the experience of Alessandro Gamberini and Juan Manuel Vargas at the back, the creativity of Sergio Almiron & Mario Santana in midfield, and the finishing of Mutu / Gilardino up front. On the other end however, Steaua manager Marius Lacatus (who even spent a season in Tuscany back in 1990-91) had installed a very thick & effective central dam, populated by the likes of Mirel Radoi & Florin Lovin in midfield and completed by the tall & powerful Dorin Goian and Sorin Ghionea at the back. In addition, the Viola coach soon had to find a solution to the Antonio Semedo problem on the right wing. Indeed, the Portuguese winger very rapidly became Martin Jorgensen’s nightmare, constantly beating the Danish wing-back on the run and creating all sorts of problems to the Viola backline.

Thus with the path down the middle being thoroughly guarded, and the wings not being much effective either, Fiorentina were forced to operate on speed coupled with the long-ball tactic. Not exactly the home special in Casa Viola: except for a few shots (very wide) by Mutu, the first half ended without major excitement. 0-0 HT.

In the second period, Prandelli patched up his right side by inserting Luciano Zauri for Jorgensen, which had its effects almost immediately. Semedo was neutralized, remained the creativity problem. And in that area unfortunately, the Steaua iron defense continued to get the upper hand, and this despite the increasingly greater Viola ball possession. Thus, remained the long-range solution, at which point Adrian Mutu‘s ballistic skills were called into action. His 66th minute free-kick on the outside part of the post was essentially the biggest chance of the night, even though Mutu repeated himself 10 minutes later and headed the side netting, after a good Kuzmanovic cross.

Definitely not enough to deserve three points today, especially if one considers the series of super-saves Sebastien Frey had to provide, on the several Steaua counter-attacks that landed inside the Fiorentina box. His 78th and 79th minute saves on Semedo (low short-range effort) and Szekely (long-range blast) were nothing short of miraculous, as the entire Artemio Franchi held their breath at the possible hold-up goal.

Bottom line: there are still 4 matches left and today’s draw can’t be considered all that bad, but Fiorentina’s job in group F just got a little harder. The next double header vs. Bayern Munich (currently top of the group with 4 points) will undoubtedly be decisive for La Viola’s fate in the UCL.


 ACF Fiorentina
[Match Highlights]
 FC Steaua Bucureşti
GOALSCORERS: 1′, 42′ Gilardino (F), 73’ Piquionne (L), 86’ Benzema (L).
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Frey – Jorgensen (46’ Zauri), Gamberini , Dainelli, Vargas – Montolivo (81’ Pazzini), Felipe Melo, Almirón (74’ Kuzmanovic) – Santana, Mutu, Gilardino. (bench: Storari, Kroldrup, Donadel, Osvaldo). Coach: Prandelli.
STEAUA BUCHAREST (4-4-1-1): Zapata – Ogararu, Goian, Ghionea, Marin – Nicolita, Radoi, Lovin, Semedo (93’ Kapetanos) – Moreno (93’ Tiago Gomes) – Stancu (77’ Szekely). (Cernea, Baciu, Golanski, Toja). Coach: Lacatus.