Posts Tagged ‘Alberto Gilardino’

Lyon 2-2 Fiorentina: Alberto Gilardino Strikes Twice… But the French Get Back (UEFA Champions League 2008-09)

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Fiorentina had the French “Lion” almost tamed. In their nth rendez-vous with top European football (since the 2001-02 season, OL have won 7 consecutive Ligue 1 championships), Lyon started the match at ferocious pace, but after a couple whip-cracks by Alberto Gilardino (coupled with an almost flawless Viola defence) the beast had stopped roaring.

However, thanks in no small part to Swedish referee Peter Frojdfelt, the French team got the helping hand they needed to draw level. A shame, because this was probably the best version of La Viola since the season’s start.

(From Gazzetta): Lyon’s start was frightening. The French lauched themselves forward with full of use of their offensive weapons: Fred, Govou, Juninho and most of all Karim Benzema. Remarkably however it was Mathieu Bodmer, a defender, who fired the overhead shot hitting the crossbar and making the Viola fans shiver.

But then in minute 11, La Viola found the way to flip the game inside out: Montolivo recovered the ball, Felipe Melo switched the play to the right to Luciano Zauri, whose cross found the noggin of Alberto Gilardino. Violin-man’s lovely diving header opened the scoring, and Prandelli was ecstatic. 1-0 Fiorentina.

A goal which really did the trick for the visitors, pumping gas into the Viola’s game and morale. Of course, the French responded with venom, mainly through Benzema who was driving Zauri mad on the left flank (but Frey always kept close guard right behind him). Then there were the Fiorentina counter-attacks, with Sergio Almiron hitting the top corner with a shot for the highlights reel, and Adrian Mutu who (thanks to Boumsong’s mistakes) forced goalkeeper Hugo Lloris into a miraculous save. Also, there was La Viola’s second goal: a textbook maneuver that sent Mutu down the right flank to provide the pinpoint cross for Il Gila. ‘Nother header, and 2-0 Fiorentina.

Lyon began the second half in the same manner as the first, pounding away through the drive of Benzema and Juninho. On occasion the French pressure was incessant, but the Viola were organised in defence and Frey continued to be exceptional. French coach Claude Puel tried some substitutions, shortly imitated by Cesare Prandelli (ready to play the Alberto Santana card).

Then however came the episode that opened the match up for Lyon, something which will much talked about in the week to come. With Zauri writhing in pain on the ground (he later had to be stretchered off and substituted) Lyon calmy manufactured their goal via a Benzema-Piquionne combination, amid protests from the Viola to kick the ball out and the complete indifference of the referee (the same referee which had allowed Van Nistelrooy’s goal vs. Italy to stand during Euro 2008). 2-1.

From that moment the game changed, and the French, aided by the psychological blow to their opponents, found the equaliser five minutes from the end. From 30 yards out, everyone expected Juninho Pernambucano to deliver one of his famous free-kicks, but instead the Brazilian midfielder faked the shot and rolled the ball towards Benzema on the right. The French youngster, devoid of marking, then simply had to slam a hard shot towards the first post, surprising Frey. 2-2.

Just as not all teams are like the Viola, not all teams are famous for their fair play.


Olympique Lyonnais
[Match Highlights]
 ACF Fiorentina
GOALSCORERS: 1′, 42′ Gilardino (F), 73’ Piquionne (L), 86’ Benzema (L).
LYON (4-3-2-1): Lloris – Reveillere, Boumsong, Bodmer, Kallstroem – Makoun (60’ Ederson), Toulalan, Juninho – Govou (89’ Mounier), Benzema – Fred (65’ Piquionne). (bench: Vercoutre, Cris, Gassama, Mensah, Pjanic). Coach: Puel.
FIORENTINA (4-3-1-2): Frey – Zauri (76’ Jorgensen), Kroldrup, Dainelli, Vargas – Almirón, Felipe Melo, Montolivo – Kuzmanovic (64’ Santana) – Gilardino (81’ PazzinI), Mutu. (bench: Storari, Gobbi, Donadel, Jovetic). Coach: Prandelli.


Fiorentina 1-1 Juventus: Bianconeri Waste Too Many Chances, Gilardino Says Thank You (Serie A Matchday 1)

Monday, September 1st, 2008

A good Juventus and a very resolute Fiorentina side gave life to an entertaining and exciting contest for fans in attendance at the Artemio Franchi stadium, with the game’s final result never certain until the referee’s final whistle. In the end it finished 1-1, courtesy of goals by Nedved and Gilardino.

Juve, 1-0 up with one minute to go (and one extra man due to a Viola dismissal), were certainly the more disappointed of the two sides, but Ranieri can nonetheless smile with some satisfaction. Indeed, his side created more chances than their opponents and showed solidity, character and determination in a difficult away fixture (especially against a traditionally bitter rival and direct challenger for the Serie A title).

(From Gazzetta dello Sport): Just like last year in the reverse fixture in Turin, the Viola were able to draw themselves level, but could not eventually find the winner: this time around it would have been too much to ask. It’s important to also acknowledge tonight’s scorers: Pavel Nedved, who had left training in a stretcher just last week, but who in this fixture gave a very energetic display as he ran the pitch tirelessly. He’s one of those players who rarely fails to turn up for important games. Then there was Alberto Gilardino, La Viola’s main attacking threat and the man whose goals will (in all likelihood) determine how well the Tuscan side will do this season.

FURIA CECA - The first half was played out at a discrete rhythm with neither side gaining the upper hand, both teams seemingly paying the price for their midweek Champions League excursions. Fiorentina for their part were making good use of both wings, with Mario Santana putting Molinaro in difficulty and Juan Manuel Vargas doing a lot of running on the other side. Juve’s reply on the other end came in the shape of Poulsen’s muscle and by way of some good exchanges between Del Piero and Amauri, the pair looking to find one another fairly frequently.

However there was not much in terms of goal scoring chances. The visitors’ goal finally came in the 39th minute, Zdenek Grygera skipping past a man (in one of the defender’s rare forays down the wing) and crossing in for Pavel Nedved: the Czech midfielder then duly obliged his compatriot’s delivery by connecting with the cross to score in an empty net. 1-0 Juventus.

Fiorentina were suddenly on the back foot, and Juve twice came close to dealing the Viola the knockout punch: first with a header from Amauri, and then through Del Piero (who failed to beat an outrushing Frey). 1-0 at the break.

SECOND HALF - Fiorentina began the second half in a much more aggressive fashion, and were more dangerous going forward thanks in no small part to the introduction of Stevan Jovetic (once again, mark my words: keep this kid under close watch). Vargas also came close with a free-kick and Gilardino carved himself a decent opening when he managed to skip past Mellberg, but then put his shot wide (as a desperate Buffon had come flying out of his goal).

Juve however defended solidly, and took advantage of Camoranesi’s technical mastery (better as the game progressed) and Del Piero’s ball control to hit their opponents on the counter. The Bianconeri captain was providing some useful contributions in the final third and came extremely close to scoring, when his 30m free-kick went just narrowly wide.

The game maintained its entertaining edge right till the very end, highly competitive (too competitive in some instances especially when Felipe Melo was sent off for a bad foul) and rich in tension as both sets of players were showing the strong desire to win. But none as much as Alberto Gilardino, who in the 89th minute (just as the Bianconeri looked set to clinch the victory) showed excellent technique, good timing and a lot of cunning to turn Mellberg and slot the ball past a helpless Buffon. 1-1.

In time added on, Juve tried to claim back the three points that they believed they rightly deserved, but Frey did well to save from an Amauri top-corner howitzer, and Del Piero once again put a free-kick just narrowly wide. The Bianconeri were forced to share the spoils…


 ACF Fiorentina
[Match Highlights]
Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 39’ Nedved (J), 89’ Gilardino (F).
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Frey – Zauri, Gamberini, Kroldrup, Vargas – Almirón (54’ Jovetic), Felipe Melo, Donadel (79’ Kuzmanovic) – Santana, Gilardino, Osvaldo (63’ Pazzini). (bench: Storari, Dainelli, Pasqual, Gobbi). Coach: Prandelli.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Grygera, Legrottaglie, Mellberg, Molinaro (74’ De Ceglie) – Camoranesi (88’ Iaquinta), Marchisio, Poulsen, Nedved – Amauri, Del Piero. (bench: Manninger, Knezevic, Salihamidzic, Tiago, Giovinco). Coach: Ranieri.


Italy 2-2 Austria: Did Anyone Say “Friendly Match”?

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Don’t let the above picture fool you. Despite the “friendly” intentions of Austria’s nº16 on Gennaro Gattuso (sorry, couldn’t resist…), Italy vs. Austria seemed, at times, anything but friendly. In fact as soon as they were up by two goals, the Austrians thought this could very well be exploit-day for them. Fortunately for the Azzurri, the Austrian reserve keeper had other plans…

In all seriousness though, this was not a very good come-back for Marcello Lippi. Relatively speaking, it was better than his first debut match (which had ended with a 2-0 loss to Iceland, back in 2004), but that in itself is no excuse to dismiss Wednesday night’s poor performance. Against the Austrians the Azzurri lacked a bit of cynicism close to goal, were a bit unattentive in defense, and also suffered a little bit from bad luck. All these “bits” added up in the end, materializing in two avoidable goals and a 0-2 half-time deficit. Well… 1-2 actually, with Gilardino’s “shot” marking the stoppage time of the first half.

In the second half, Italy’s “fighting spirit” and “determination” rose above the rest, and the Azzurri played somewhat better. It’s ironic then, that the equalizing goal came through yet another “gift” from the Austrian defence, specifically their keeper who punched the ball into his own net (insert comic trombone music). In Italy’s defense: this was an August friendly, the players’ form & fitness is still far from optimal. Not a match to make Azzurri history this one though, that’s for sure…

Oh and by the way: you can’t see it but right after the above picture was taken, Gattuso made a two-footed tackle sending nº16 flying. Seriously Austrian dude… what were you thinking? It’s Ringhio for God’s sake!

(From Gazzetta): NICE (France) - The first match of Lippi’s second coming was better than his first. Italy overcame a two-goal deficit to end up drawing 2-2 against Austria: a modest score but certainly better than the 0-2 loss in Iceland (Lippi’s very first debut as Azzurri coach). Besides, didn’t that loss in 2004 open up a new cycle of victories, which ended up as we all know two years later?

Anyways, not much more to say about Wednesday night’s friendly match in Nice. Worth the mention: the Italian fighting spirit (the Azzurri knew how to turn the tables in an evening that didn’t begin well) and Aquilani’s performance (a big factor in the team’s improvement in the 2nd half). The three men in up front however, played poorly. There was not a lot of strength in midfield, with some synchronism problems worth reviewing, and Del Piero proved not to be very efficient on the wing (but what else is new?). Much better was his performance as a trequartista, when Italy switched to a diamond formation.

FALSE START – Italy’s first half was, to put it plainly, not good. The Italian side started well, obtaining a couple of chances through Zambrotta (good save by Manninger on a left-footed long-ranger) and Gilardino (header too soft & too central) . In minute 14 the match turned on its head, as Austria opened the score on their first visit close to Buffon’s net: Emanuel Pogatetz was quicker than Zambrotta as he anticipated a cross, slamming the ball under the crossbar with a powerful half-volley. 1-0 Austria. The 15,000 fans who had gathered in the stadium (in large majority pro-Italy) fell silent. The Azzurri tried to reply shortly after, with an almost knee-jerk reaction by Gilardino who got through on goal, but Manninger came out and took control of the situation.

IMPASSE – Italy were still in a fix, especially because they couldn’t hold their own in attack: too long on the passes and with too much space between strikers and midfield. The only real danger came through the wing runs by Zambrotta and Grosso, which made Austria feel incredulous at first but then gradually more confident as they got their counterattacks organized. And on their second shot of the game, Brückner’s men scored again: Marc Janko may have had a bit of help from Barzagli, but what was most worrisome was the general laxism of Italy’s defense on the play. 2-0 Austria.

GILA TIME – At this point, seeing the “tridente” wasn’t working Lippi tried to use Del Piero as a second striker. This in turn re-shuffled Di Natale on the left wing, which gave its desired results in the last minute of stoppage time: through on goal, the Udinese forward crossed the ball to Gilardino, who with a bit of help from Stranzl (the Austrian defender actually cleared the ball onto him) put Italy back in it. 2-1. Certainly not standing ovation-worthy, but a critical goal nonetheless.

DRAW- The second half permitted a few changes in Italy’s ranks (Legrottaglie, Dossena, Aquilani, and Perrotta for Bonera, Grosso, Pirlo, and Gattuso), who then reverted to a diamond formation: De Rossi in front of the defence, Aquilani and Perrotta on the sides, Del Piero behind the strikers. It seemed to work fairly well: the Juventus captain immediately a good chance in front of Manninger, but missed his chipped shot by a hairbreadth (picture the same chance he got in the 2006 semi-final, but wide).

Italy grew stronger, more compact and orderly, and eventually managed to tie the game. It was an unfortunate attempt by the backup goalkeeper Ozcan, who anticipated an aerial pass to Del Piero but whose punching clearance ended up into his own net. A goal which in Italy, one typically calls a “gollonzo”. 2-2.

The match was still open. Aquilani, very energetic, revitalised and displayed quality in the Italian side. In return, Maierhofer tried to counter for the Austrians. Our response to their attack included failed attempts by Legrottaglie (headed corner well-saved by Ozcan) and Di Natale. Based on their performance tonight though, a 3-2 victory would have been a bit much for the Azzurri…


 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio ITALY-AUSTRIA
[Match Highlights]
Österreichischer Fußball-Bund (Austrian Football Association)
GOALSCORERS: 14’ Pogatetz (A), 39’ Janko (A), 45’ Gilardino (I), 67’ o.g. Oczan (I)
ITALY (4-3-3): Buffon – Zambrotta (70’ Cassetti), Bonera (46’ Legrottaglie), Barzagli, Grosso (46’ Dossena) – De Rossi, Pirlo (46’ Aquilani), Gattuso (45’ Perrotta) – Di Natale, Gilardino, Del Piero (74’ Palombo). (bench: Amelia, Camoranesi, Iaquinta). Coach: Lippi.
AUSTRIA (4-1-4-1): Manninger (46’ Oczan) – Garics, Prodl, Stranzl, Pogatetz (58’ Leitgeb) – Scharner (46’ Gercaliu) – Harnik (72’ Hoffer), Saumel, Ivanschitz (86’ Linz), Fuchs – Janko (65’ Maierhofer). (bench: Standfest, Klenast). Coach: Bruckner.


Fiorentina 2-0 Slavia Prague: La Viola Return to the Champions League in Style (UCL Preliminary Round)

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

The paintbrush of Adrian Mutu and the violin solo of Alberto Gilardino. Tuscany is well-known as the homeland of many Italian artists, and Fiorentina are certainly no exception to that trend. The two Viola strikers were main protagonists Tuesday night, as their team obtained a key 2-0 home win against Slavia Prague and slammed the door wide open towards their UEFA Champions League qualification.

Cesare Prandelli’s return to Europe (after last year’s very good run in the UEFA Cup, stopped only by a penalty shootout in the semi-final round) can certainly be deemed succesful, as Fiorentina demonstrated good tactical cohesion, determination, and containment, and this despite the limited time available for pre-season prep. With the good value-for-money transfers operated by the Della Valle bros. this Summer (Gilardino, Jovetic, Vargas, Zauri) and the confirmation of Adrian Mutu, things are definitely looking brightly for La Viola’s future. Just remember that not so very long ago, Fiorentina was sitting down in Serie C2… How 6 years can pass by quickly, huh?

(From Gazzetta): PRANDELLI-STYLE. A beautiful Fiorentina, well-organized on the pitch and quite obviously having their coach to thank for it. Heart and rationality were Prandelli’s key words tonight, as he christened the classic 4-3-3 formation (without Gianluca Comotto and Alessandro Gamberini, out injured) that gave Serie A teams so many problems last year: Frey in goal, Dainelli and Kroldrup keepin guard in the center and supported by Zauri and Vargas on the wings, Felipe Melo in-between Kuzmanovic and Gobbi (playing a sort of vice-Montolivo role, since the latter is away to Beijing), all behind the attacking trio of Santana, Gilardino, and Mutu.

MAGIC-MUTU. Ready, set, go. Goal. Litterally! Just 3 minutes into the game, the Divine Romanian took matters into his own hands and brought the 32,560 Artemio Franchi supporters to their feet. Mutu’s specialty on the menu obviously being his lethal skills on set pieces, Mr. nº10 proceeded to strike a curling shot straight into the top-left corner, following a free-kick just outside box obtained for a foul on Gilardino. Really nothing to do for the opposing goalkeeper, and 1-0 Fiorentina. With goal-of-the-month style!!

Mutu’s game opener was just more fuel to the fire for an already highly-motivated team, because for the ensuing 20 minutes La Viola litterally pressed Slavia under their heel, as if they were nothing more than a cigarette butt. King of plays during this fraction: Felipe Melo, who with smart ball control and great dribbling skills also showcased a surprisingly strong physique (not exactly common for technical players), and thus actively participated in ball-stealing as well.

Closing down their defence, Slavia slowly got out of their slumber and attempted timid counter-attacks, inspired by the through passes of Jarolim. However, the Czechs could not muster a single shot on target before the half (also thanks to the attentive Viola defense), while in turn their opponents were keeping quite busy. Gilardino, despite never quite stepping into the spotlight, was making himself useful by drawing man-marking attention, and thus allowing Mutu and Santana (well emulated by Vargas and Kuzmanovic) dangerous runs forward. The Romanian striker got his share of chances to increase Fiorentina’s lead, but failed to hit the target perhaps due to a lack of concentration. The half thus came to a close with Fiorentina in the lead by one.

GILARDINO-MUSIC. In the second period, the home team stepped back onto the field with the same fighting spirit, a sign that they were not content with a single goal. Just 3 minutes after the restart (yes, 3 minutes again!) the Czech keeper almost lost a finger, as he parried away a cannonball free-kick by Vargas, which prompted Slavia to further entrench themselves into their own box. Set pieces seemed to be the only way to break down the Czech defensive wall, and indeed so it happened in minute 58, as Alberto Gilardino put his full goal-poaching skills into action and he headed the ball past vaniek, following a rather confusing aerial deflection in the box. 2-0 Fiorentina, and violin-time for Gila.

With 30 minutes left, Prandelli decided to play the ball possession card and substituted Vargas with Sergio Almiron (on loan from Juve), followed shortly after by Osvaldo and Pazzini (on for Mutu and Gilardino). Fiorentina then coolly controlled the game until Mr. Webb’s final whistle, aided in their efforts by a rather bleak and uninspired Slavia side, obviously still under shock from the early goal. It will undoubtedly be another game on August 27 in Prague, but there is no doubt that Fiorentina made an important step towards UCL qualification tonight.


 ACF Fiorentina
[Match Highlights]
Slavia Praha
GOALSCORERS: 3’ Mutu (F), 58’ Gilardino (F)
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Frey – Zauri, Dainelli, Kroldrup, Vargas (64’ Almirón) – Kuzmanovic, Felipe Melo, Gobbi – Santana, Gilardino (76’ Pazzini), Mutu (76’ Osvaldo) (bench: Storari, Donadel, Jovetic, Pasqual). Coach: Prandelli.
SLAVIA PRAGUE (4-5-1): Vaniak – Suchy, Latka, Brabec, Hubacek – Janda (74’ Krajcic), Taveres, Gebre Selassie (53’Belaid), M.Jarolim (61’ Necid), Svento – Senkerik. (bench: Divis, Toleski, Jablonsky, Cerny). Coach: K.Jarolim.