Archive for September, 2008

Serie A Matchday 3 – Week-end Review + GOALS of the Week (2008-09)

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Week-End Reviews

After the Summer wait, Serie A continues. :) Here are the results and summaries for matchday 3. Full Video Highlights here.
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Italy.TheOffside.com week 3 review

Italy.TheOffside.com

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Italian Calcio Blog week 3 review

Italian Calcio Blog 2008-09

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Inter Milan produced a masterclass of attacking play when they moved to the top of serie A with a 3-1 win at Torino on Sunday. The reigning Serie A champions had been finding their feet in Jose Mourinho’s first few games in charge, but they outclassed Torino thanks to an own goal by Marco Pisano, Maicon’s superb 30-yard screamer and a neat finish from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Torino 1-3 Inter Match Report (mCalcio)

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Injury-hit Juventus also made it seven points from three games with striker Amauri sealing a 1-0 win at Cagliari. The race between Nerazzurri and Bianconeri is on. Manager Claudio Ranieri was unfortunate however, in losing keeper Gigi Buffon to a groin strain for at least a week.

Cagliari 0-1 Juventus Match Report (mCalcio)

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The day’s biggest performance of course, was AC Milan‘s 4-1 thumping of Lazio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. Like last season, all of Milan’s troubles seem to melt away when they face the Biancocelesti, as the goals by Seedorf, Zambrotta, Pato, and Kaká seem to indicate. The consolation for Delio Rossi’s team, was the excellent moment of form of Serie A revelation Mauro Zarate. 4 goals in 3 games, and the lone leader of the topscorer ranking.

Milan 4-1 Lazio Match Report (mCalcio)

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Finally for the last two “big” teams, Roma rebounded nicely from their shocking 2-1 UCL defeat by winning 3-0 against Reggina Saturday (goals by Panucci, Aquilani, and Perrotta), while forward Alberto Gilardino continued his rich vein of form by scoring in Fiorentina‘s 1-0 victory over promoted Bologna.

Roma 3-0 Reggina Match Report (mCalcio)

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In other matches, Catania stopped Atalanta‘s winning streak dead cold with a 1-0 win at Stadio Massimino Saturday (goal courtesy of Michele Paolucci), while Palermo overcame Genoa on a score of 2-1, thanks to Edison Cavani and a Cesare Bovo screamer (Diego Milito scored the lone Genoan goal).

Lecce vs. Siena (Ficagna, Caserta), Sampdoria vs. Chievo (Franceschini, Langella), and Udinese vs. Napoli all ended in draws.

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GOALS of the WEEKGOALS of the WEEK

You’re just going to love today’s goals of the week selection… it’s essentially the same fantastic top-corner blast repeated five times. Well, maybe not exactly the same… but awfully close. (and yes, I felt lazy on the goals description)
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And the winner is… Kaká. Why this one over the others? The ball’s not moving, the distance might be a bit further away, and the trajectory’s just so damn awesome. If had to choose one between all the top-corner strikes this week, this one’s it.

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Results Summary

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Serie A 2008-09
Matchday 3

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Calcio Catania
Catania
1-0
Atalanta
Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio
AS Roma
Roma
3-0
Reggina
Reggina Calcio
Udinese Calcio
Udinese
0-0
Napoli
SSC Napoli
US Lecce
Lecce
1-1
Siena
AC Siena
Cagliari Calcio
Cagliari
0-1
Juventus
Juventus FC
Torino FC
Torino
1-3
Inter
FC Internazionale Milano
US Città di Palermo
Palermo
2-1
Genoa
Genoa CFC
ACF Fiorentina
Fiorentina
1-0
Bologna
Bologna FC 1909
UC Sampdoria
Sampdoria
1-1
Chievo
AC Chievo Verona
AC Milan
Milan
4-1
Lazio
SS Lazio Roma


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AC Milan 4-1 Lazio: Is “Biancocelesti” Italian for “Miracle Cure”? (Serie A Matchday 3)

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

You know it’s funny: it seems that whenever AC Milan are in trouble, all they need to lift their spirits is a little Lazio “rejuvenation cure”.

Just around the same time last year, the Rossoneri had just played an abysmal UEFA Champions League match against Celtic Glasgow (in which Dida infamously faked being mortally hit by an invading Celtic supporter, remember?) and occupied one of its lowest Serie A rankings in years. On matchday 7, they were travelling to Stadio Olimpico to play Lazio, at which point… a miracle took place. Contrary to every pre-game prediction, Milan won the match 5-1, virtually (temporarily) ending their results crisis and sending them on the way to a FIFA Club World Cup champions title.

I’m beginning to think that playing Lazio when you’re wearing red & black must have therapeutic powers

(From Gazzetta dello Sport): Four very loud trumpet calls sounded at the San Siro Sunday night, just to let the Serie A know AC Milan is very much alive and kicking. No doubt also to convince Carlo Ancelotti, who wanted a clear sign and some impressive football in order to declare the Rossoneri crisis well and truly broken.

A sign of the kind that brought Lazio literally to their knees, with a superlative 4-1 win in a goal-filled, showtime bonanza. Most importantly, the match demonstrated what Milan is truly capable of, albeit with a little help from Lazio (the Biancocelesti forgot to put up barricades for this one, but they kept their heads up and faced the Rossoneri with a brave face). A night for football epicurians let’s say, who were served up Seedorf‘s (lucky) opening shot and Zarate‘s equalizer for starters, then wined and dined by some wizard shots from Zambrotta, Pato and Kaká to bring the banquet to an end.

When you have still yet to score a point in the standings, playing conservative is not an option. Lost ground is regained by taking risks, and that’s just what Ancelotti put on the menu: diamond formation with Gattuso midfield between Ambrosini and Seedorf, Kaká up top behind Alexandre Pato and Marco Borriello (Ronaldinho and Sheva on the bench). Lazio lined up a similar formation, with Stefano Mauri covering the backs of the top-scoring Goran Pandev-Mauro Zarate duo.

Milan got off to a shaky start: on a hazardous Kaladze back-pass to Abbiati (just a few seconds into the game), Mauri almost managed to capitalize and put his team in the lead. This was to be the first in a long series of Kakhaber-blunders, but its was also crucial in making the Rossoneri get a clear idea on Lazio’s intentions: the Biancocelesti had come to San Siro to win.

Milan perked up and started pressing. 6 minutes in, Seedorf and Kaká combined (one of the recurring themes of tonight’s match) to set up Pato inside the box, but the young Brazilian’s backheel did not fool Carrizo. Two minutes later however, breakthrough time: from Pato to Seedorf on the edge of the box, the Dutchman litterally played a wall pass with… Ledesma’s back, to pick up the ball just inside the box apply an easy finish. 1-0 Milan.

It was an unfortunate goal for Lazio, but the Biancocelesti were not demoralized. Playing a razor-sharp, well-balanced game with no hesitation of moving forward, Delio Rossi’s man launched themselves into the Milan box. Mauri forced Abbiati down with a ground shot in minute 18, shortly followed by Zarate (well-served by Pandev). During this phase of play, it became evident that Lazio maneuvering variety was superior to Milan’s, and that Pandev can be a playmaker of the highest level at times. It was precisely through the Macedonian player’s assist that Zarate took control of the ball, burned Kaladze on the run, and put an accurate effort past Abbiati’s first post. 1-1.

Milan responded immediately. Pato (great dribble followed by a low shot on Carrizo) and Kaká (double dribble on Lichtsteiner and shot wide) tried their luck a few times, but it was through Gianluca Zambrotta’s scorcher (in minute 35) that Milan took their lead back. Similar to Maicon’s shot in the Torino vs. Inter game, the Rossoneri right-back unleashed a marvelous strike from 30 yards that ended its course straight into the top-left corner. 2-1 Milan.

The goal really got Milan’s motors going, driving them harder and faster to claim the game as their own. Pato was feeling inspired, Borriello a bit less (although his pass for Kaká’s header in minute 42 was worthy of note), while Lazio patiently waited in their own half, hoping to hit the Rossoneri on the counter (especially through Kaladze’s turf, whose lack of confidence put the entire backline on thin ice).

In the second period Lazio came back out strong, with Zarate showing he was no flash in the pan. While half of Milan’s defence (often forced to foul on the edge of the box) tried to stop the Argentine striker, the Rossoneri attacking line was lurking. In fact as soon as Milan stepped up the tempo again, it was goal nº3 for the Ancelotti’s boys: Jankulovski darted off on the left and served a perfect ball to Alexandre Pato, setting him up for an unstoppable short-range diving header. 3-1 Milan.

Milan was finally calling the shots, almost oozing in confidence as Kaká continued his vintage show of ball control & technique. The Brazilian playmaker first tried his luck from 15 yards (receiving a pass from Borriello) but was denied by the Lazio keeper. Carrizo could however do very little three minutes later, as Kaká did… well what Kaká does best, sending a great long-range inswinging curler straight into the top corner. Lots of top-corner goals this week-end, and 4-1 Milan.

It was the coup de grâce for Lazio, guilty perhaps of having underestimated their opponents’ crisis-recovery abilities. In the final minutes, even Ronaldinho (on for Pato) got some playing time, immediately setting Borriello up for a fifth goal (blocked by Carrizo) and sending the ball onto the crossbar. Lazio were spared further humiliation, as Ancelotti grabbed the first points of this Serie A season… Phew! Huh Carlo?

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 AC Milan
MILAN-LAZIO
4-1
[Match Highlights]
S.S. Lazio
GOALSCORERS: 8’ Seedorf (M), 26’ Zarate (L), 35’ Zambrotta (M), 59’ Pato (M), 60’ Kakà (M).
MILAN (4-3-2-1): Abbiati – Zambrotta, Kaladze, Maldini, Jankulovski – Ambrosini, Gattuso (79’ Emerson), Seedorf (64’ Flamini) – Kaká; Pato (71’ Ronaldinho), Borriello. (bench: Dida, Bonera, Favalli, Shevchenko). Coach: Ancelotti.
LAZIO (4-3-1-2): Carrizo – Lichtsteiner, Siviglia, Rozehnal, Kolarov – Brocchi (79’ De Silvestri), C.Ledesma, Matuzalem (68’ Meghni) – Mauri (63’ Foggia) – Pandev, Zarate. (bench: Muslera, Cribari, C.Manfredini, Makinwa). Coach: D.Rossi.

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Torino 1-3 Inter Milan: Nerazzurri Powering Past Granata (Serie A Matchday 3)

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Excessive self-satisfaction: that was really the only flaw of Inter Milan Sunday. With the score up by three, Abbruscato’s goal, a crossbar, and two great saves by Julio Cesar reminded the Nerazzurri matches last for 90 minutes. Other than that, José Mourinho’s really dominated their Torino opponents, and deservedly closed the game with a 3-1 victory.

Speaking of José, the Inter manager will undoubtedly be happy with all the positive things emanating from Sunday’s match. Everyone played their part: Mancini, Maicon, and Ibrahimovic in the role of the “energizer bunny”, Vieira and Cambiasso the “midfield iron wall”, Julio Cesar the “attentive/miraculous keeper”, while a certain Adriano (yes, believe or not) seems to be (almost) back to his usual self. Only thing left to work on for the Portuguese manager: the aforementioned self-complacency aspect. Plenty of time for that.

(From Gazzetta dello Sport): As any host team should, Torino showed the way in this way, leading the early attacking proceedings into the Inter box. The men of Gianni De Biasi has evidently received specific instructions from their coach, pressuring their opponents high up the field and closing down any space that they could. The Inter forwards were left a bit isolated because of this, and Mourinho repeatedly had to instruct Maicon and Chivu to push up the wings in order to support the offensive effort.

The first chances of the game therefore, were all in favor of the home team. First, Alessandro Rosina sent a left-footed long-ranger inches wide, while Rolando Bianchi seemed to be getting the upper hand on Materazzi, as he connected with a few aerial balls first (sending them wide of the mark). The early chances were however an illusion for Granata supporters, because the scoreline changed as soon as Inter came knocking on Sereni’s door. 24 minutes in, Amantino Mancini exploited a good through ball by Adriano, and sent a cross from the right straight into the net. Of course, Pisano’s unfortunate deflection helped fool the Toro keeper, but it was still 1-0 Inter.

Things really went from bad to worse for Torino, because not even two minutes after conceding the first, the home team conceded a second (an absolutely slamming shot by Maicon from 25 yards, straight into the top-left corner) and then lost Rosina to injury. 2-0 Inter, couple with a big slap in the face for De Biasi.

The Torino coach had to resort to desperate measures in the second half, inserting Simone Barone for Eugenio Corini (also picking up an injury) and sending his team forward, attacking with their heads down. Risky business, but necessary when your team is trailing by two goals. Of course there’s always the risk you’re going to concede a third one on a counter-attack, which is exactly what happened in the the 51st. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was there to finish a play that Maicon started and Mancini continued, or in other words 3-0 Inter.

Game over right? Almost. There were still 40 minutes left in this match, which if you were wearing a black & blue shirt seemed almost like a tedious inconvenience at this point. Mourinho even made attacking substitutions at this point (Quaresma & Balotelli on for Mancini & Adriano), and Inter let their guard down in defense for a little while. Elvis Abbruscato was thus sent free to a winning close-range deflection, while Diana and Bianchi were allowed to unload on the Inter keeper (forced to some great saves in the process). Abbruscato even blasted the ball onto the crossbar, which gave the Torino crowd a bit of pride back.

As for the points… those were all Inter’s.

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Torino F.C.
TORINO-INTER
1-3
[Match Highlights]
F.C. Internazionale Milano
GOALSCORERS: 24′ Pisano o.g. (I), 26′ Maicon (I), 51’ Ibrahimovic (I), 76’ Abbruscato (T)
TORINO (4-3-2-1): Sereni – Diana, Di Loreto, Pratali, Pisano – P.Zanetti (65’ Ogbonna), Corini (46’ Barone), Saumel, Rosina (29′ Abbruscato), Amoruso, Bianchi. (bench: Calderoni, Colombo, Rubin, Ventola). Coach: De Biasi.
INTER (4-3-3): Julio Cesar – Maicon, Burdisso, Materazzi, Chivu – Vieira, Cambiasso, J.Zanetti, Ibrahimovic (87’ Cruz), Adriano (67’ Balotelli), Mancini (64’ Quaresima). (bench: Toldo, Córdoba, Rivas, Cruz, Crespo, Balotelli). Coach: Mourinho.

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

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Calcio-Champagne“:
noun
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.

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Cagliari Calcio
CAGLIARI-JUVENTUS
0-1
[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.

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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…

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A.S. Roma
ROMA-REGGINA
3-0
[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

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