Archive for March, 2009

Inter 3-0 Reggina: Easy Peasy… Zlatanesey (Serie A Matchday 29)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Inter Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic (L) celebrates with his team mate Sulley Ali Muntari after scoring a third goal against Reggina during their Italian Serie A soccer match at the San siro stadium in Milan March 22, 2009. (REUTERS)

See what I did there? Feel free to use that in future Inter victories (sounds a bit better than “japanesey” or “lemon-squeezy”, no?). For there are few words more appropriate than “piece of cake” to define the Nerazzurri’s victory over Reggina Sunday. Juventus thought that by keeping the pressure on their rivals, Mourinho’s boys were going to slip up… eventually. Ibrahimovic thought otherwise.

Inter’s third goal, a marvelous left-footed chip over the keeper after a double dribble by Zlatan, epitomizes the ease and facility with which this team is playing domestically at the moment: one can only wonder how on Earth they could not translate Serie A domination into European success (especially with Man utd losing against teams like Fulham this past week-end). And the stats speak loud & clear: 10th match without a loss, 7th consecutive game ended with a +2 goal margin. Those who criticized Mourinho for non-spectacular playing style are keeping quiet.

Reggina on the other hand, and their hopes for avoiding relegation, are looking grim: Nevio Orlandi’s team has not managed to win since the end of November…

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Roma 1-4 Juventus: Bianconeri Triumph in ‘Battle of the Hospital Wards’ (Serie A Matchday 29)

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Juventus Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved (C) celebrates with team mate forward Vincenzo Iaquinta (L) after scoring against AS Roma during their Italian Serie A football match on March 21, 2009 at Olympic stadium in Rome. (Getty Images)

In this long, tough battle for Serie A supremacy, few teams can make the claim to have been decimated by injuries, at least not like those entering the Stadio Olimpico of Rome Saturday. I won’t bother to go over Juventus for fear of redundancy; Roma, just for this match alone, stepped onto the grass with five bench Primaveras and a big book of prayers in Spalletti’s hands. It is a sad tale of missed potential and full of “what if” hypotheses: what if these teams could have counted on their full roster this season; what if Legrottaglie and Juan had been there to stop the Chelsea and Arsenal strikers; what if Inter was having the same injury troubles as these two… what if.

Thus, it is in this surreal “red cross” atmosphere that Giallorossi and Bianconeri set to face each other Saturday, with the home team, it must be said, in slightly more dire straits than their colleagues. A youth presence on a team is always refreshing, but for Roma that’s about just what it was: refreshing and cold, just like the goal shower Juventus onloaded on them. Iaquinta drew first blood, Loria (yes, you have read correctly) momentarily tied, before big Vincenzo, Mellberg, and Nedved wrapped things up for the visitors. It was a clear message to league leaders Inter, as this never-ending Saturday/Sunday “long distance” battle continues, one team losing ground one day only to see it restored the very next day. In the words of Gazzetta, “Those expecting an early wrap for the Serie A title will be disappointed”.

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Serie A Matchday 29 Preview: Roma and Juventus Set for Stadio Olimpico Showdown

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Serie A Matchday 29 Preview: Roma and Juventus Set for Stadio Olimpico Showdown

It is getting close to crunch time for a few Serie A sides and if anyone wants to catch Inter Milan they’re going to have to get a run together now. Inter won’t be dropping any points this weekend unless something drastic happens though, they face bottom club Reggina at the Giuseppe Meazza and I don’t think anyone would predict anything other than a victory for the Nerazzurri. I’ve had a run through some of the key fixtures to see if I can offer any betting tips and advice along the way.

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UEFA Cup Quarter-Finals Draw (2008-09): Udinese Get Werder Bremen

Friday, March 20th, 2009

UEFA Cup

The draw for the Quarter-Finals of the UEFA Champions League took place at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland, today at 13:00 CET (I liveblogged the event on Soccerlens).

Udinese, the only Serie A team remaining in Europe, can be moderately satisfied. They have the chance to avenge AC Milan, but will have to watch out from conceding too many goals. Despite a rather bleak Bundesliga campaign this year, Bremen have grown accustomed to scoring lots of ‘em in recent years.

I’ll make a more elaborate analysis later in the day, but for now here are the draw results.

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2008/09 UEFA Cup
Quarter-Finals
to be played April 9 and 16

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Hamburg
Hamburg
vs.
Man City
Manchester City
Paris SG
Paris SG
vs.
Dynamo Kiev
Dynamo Kiev
Shakhtar Donetsk
Shakhtar
vs.
Marseille
Marseille
Werder Bremen
Werder
vs.
Udinese
Udinese


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2008/09 UEFA Cup
Semi-Finals
to be played April 30 and May 7

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Werder/Udinese
vs.
Hamburg/Man City
PSG/D.Kiev
vs.
Shakhtar/Marseille

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UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals Draw (2008-09): It’s Liverpool vs. Chelsea Again!

Friday, March 20th, 2009

UEFA Champions League

The draw for the Quarter-Finals of the UEFA Champions League took place at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland, today at 12:00 CET (I liveblogged the event on Soccerlens).

No Serie A teams were involved alas, and most of us will be watching the next rounds sighing in sadness and regret. Yup. No Juve, no Inter, no Roma… sad sad sad. But while we cry, there’s no reason not to enjoy the best football action European football still has to offer.

I’ll try to make a more elaborate analysis later in the day, but for now here are the draw results.

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2008/09 UEFA Champions League
Quarter-Finals
to be played April 7/8 and 14/15

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Villareal
Villarreal
vs.
Arsenal
Arsenal
Man Utd
Manchester Utd
vs.
Porto
FC Porto
Liverpool
Liverpool
vs.
Chelsea
Chelsea
Barcelona
Barcelona
vs.
Bayern
Bayern Munich


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2008/09 UEFA Champions League
Semi-Finals
to be played April 28/29 and May 5/6

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Man Utd/Porto
vs.
Villarreal/Arsenal
Barcelona/Bayern
vs.
Liverpool/Chelsea


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