Archive for March, 2009

Zenit St. Petersburg 1-0 Udinese: Bianconeri Scraping their Way to Quarter-Finals (UEFA Cup Round of 16, 2nd Leg)

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Players of Udinese react after UEFA Cup Round of 16 second leg soccer match against Zenit at the Petrovsky stadium in St.Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, March 19, 2009. Udinese lost 0-1 but gets to the next round. (AP Photo)

Through to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals, for the first time ever. Thursday’s 1-0 loss in St. Petersburg was a “happy” loss for Udinese, as Pasquale Marino’s boys achieved a club milestone by beating current champions FC Zenit 2-1 on aggregate, and qualifying for the last 8 of Europe’s “lesser” competition.

If one wanted to push a “schoolyard logic” here, we could say that Zenit beat Man Utd (Super Cup), Udinese beat Zenit, and that therefore Udinese > Man Utd. Ah to be 8 years old again… The Italian 2008-09 adventure in Europe is not looking so grim after all.

(more…)

Serie A Matchday 28 – Week-End Review + GOALS of the Week (2008-09)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

(more…)

Inter 2-0 Fiorentina: Zlatan Doing His Thing(s) Again, Nerazzurri Keep Juve at -7 (Serie A Matchday 28)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Inter Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores a goal during the Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Fiorentina at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Sunday, March 15, 2009. (AP Photo)

Hats off to Manchester but we are a great team. Moratti-Mourinho: full steam ahead“. So recited a banner at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium this week-end, a sign that Inter supporters seem to be quick at forgiving their heroes’ European misfortunes. It is thus fitting perhaps, that Sunday’s match vs. Fiorentina featured the last appearance of the Nerazzurri’s celebratory “centenary jersey” (the one with the Crusaders stripes), as if to symbolize “a cycle is over, let a new one begin”.

For Mourinho, that new cycle can only hope to begin with an Italian Scudetto and given his team’s performance vs. La Viola, things are looking okay. The change of scenery, from Old Trafford stadium to the dire reality of Serie A, seems to have been absorbed rather well by his players: Julio Cesar is still the ever-reliable rock between the posts, Cambiasso the midfield (slash defense) dynamo, Zlatan the goalscoring machine up front. With their win Sunday, the Nerazzurri are keeping Juventus at -7.

(more…)

Siena 1-5 Milan: Super Pippo & The Duck Make Milan… Rock (Serie A Matchday 28)

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

AC Milan's Andrea Pirlo (C) celebrates with his teammates Filippo Inzaghi (L), Pato (2nd L), David Beckham and Paolo Maldini (R) after scoring a penalty against Siena during their Italian Serie A soccer match in Siena March 15, 2009.  (REUTERS)

Yes, I didn’t look for that rhyme very far… sue me for lack of imagination. I stand by it: it’s an appropriate title, and something a bit more original than phrases including “Super Pippo” and “300″.

Milan‘s visit to Siena Sunday was really a one-way encounter for the Rossoneri, who saw the welcome returns of Kakà and Ronaldinho from injury as well as the confirmation that maybe, just maybe (and for one last season), old & new can blend together in this team. On the one hand we have Inzaghi, who followed last week’s Atalanta hat-trick with a brace today, just to confirm that even as a 35 year-old he’s lost nothing of his goalscoring cunning. On the other hand we have Pato, whom Inzaghi has apparently taught well and who quite happily seems be carrying the scoring torch at Milan. With his two goals today (one more spectacular than the other) the “Duck” rises to 14 goals in this Serie A season, just five behind capocannoniere Marco Di Vaio.

Oh, and for those still confused about my “Super Pippo” and “300″ reference: no, this isn’t another Zack Snyder movie. Simply, Serie A goalscorer extraordinaire Filippo Inzaghi just bagged his 300th professional career goal Sunday. Say what want about Inzaghi (he’s always offside, he dives, etc.) but… Mazel Tov! Few people can make that claim about their football career.

(more…)

Sampdoria 2-2 Roma: Pazzini Illuminating Marassi, Julio Baptista Turning Its Lights Off (Serie A Matchday 28)

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Sampdoria's forward Antonio Cassano, left, tussles with AS Roma's midfielder Marco Motta during a Serie A soccer match between Sampdoria and AS Roma at the Ferraris stadium in Genoa, Italy, Sunday, March 15, 2009. (AP Photo)

As far as entertainment goes, today’s Sampdoria vs. Roma had all the ingredients required of a soccer match: goals, cards (of various colours), and… oh yes, this is Serie A after all, reffing mistakes. For a Sunday morning, it certainly beats waking up to watch Chelsea vs. Manchester City I think… (bitter? who me?).

But in all seriousness, I got up early today primarily because I was curious on just how Spalletti would handle his injury crisis (as a Juve fan I can relate, you see…) and I have to say the Giallorossi can be pretty satisfied with their final 2-2 result, especially given the turn this game had taken after Motta’s red card. Can we talk about the “post-elimination aftershock” I was mentioning in Juve-Bologna? Partially. A draw certainly isn’t the best way to rebound from an Champions League elimination. It must also be said Roma’s roster featured nearly 1/3 of Primaveras.

Discussions aside, the match was also (very surprisingly) a game of redemption for Julio Baptista (who had been so terrible mid-week) and (less surprisingly) one of confirmation for Giampaolo Pazzini, whose entente with Cassano is screaming more and more of perfection.

(more…)