National team coach Cesare Prandelli has made the Azzurri’s roster official, and communicated his list to UEFA.
Compared his previous version, the manager has left out Andrea Ranocchia and Mattia Destro. Doubts remain on the eligibility of Leonardo Bonucci, currently under investigation in the massive betting scandal surrounding Italian soccer this week.
The list also made the squad numbers for the final phase of the tournament official.
Saturday’s Napoli vs. Bologna was a match telling two tales. The first is that Mihajlovic seems to like 1-1 draws an awful lot: since he took over the team, Bologna has finished six matches out of twelve with that scoreline. That’s six valuable points in the fight against relegation which may prove decisive later on (you know what they say about pennies…).
The second thing is that Napoli aren’t in a slump anymore, they’ve turned just plain mediocre. I don’t know what it is, but this is a team who is now incapable of winning: they’ve raked 4 losses and 2 draws in their last 6 matches, something which sounds almost unreal compared to the 8 wins & 1 draw in their first 9 of the season. That was back in September/October. So who’s to blame? The manager? The players? Hard to say, but one thing’s for sure: presidents don’t generally fire their players…
Italian teams made 4 out of 4 in the UEFA Cup Thursday night. Indeed, in the round just before the Group Stage all four Serie A sides in action recorded first-leg victories, some welcome news after the difficulties Roma and Fiorentina encountered in the Champions League. Uefa.com reports. Partial video highlights here.
Seven-time winners AC Milan are having to adjust to a rare season without UEFA Champions League football (not to mention a terrible start to the Serie A campaign) and they quickly found their feet with a morale-boosting triumph against FC Zürich. Meanwhile Sampdoria were the night’s big winners, hitting five past FBK Kaunas in Genoa, while Napoli held off a spirited Benfica and Udinese impressed in their away win to Borussia Dortmund.
Milan vs. Zürich
After opening the Serie A season with successive defeats, Milan lifted their spirits with a convincing win against Zürich. Andriy Shevchenko twice went close for the Rossoneri before playing a part in the opening goal a minute into added time at the end of the first half. Zürich goalkeeper Johnny Leoni saved his shot but Marek Jankulovski was on hand to volley in the rebound.
Zürich striker Alexandre Alphonse’s 66th-minute header hit the post and just seconds after that Alexandre Pato doubled Milan’s advantage with a 25-metre free-kick. Substitute Marco Borriello made it three after being teed up by Shevchenko on 74 minutes, though the Rossoneri’s celebrations were tempered by Dušan Djuric‘s 30-metre drive soon after which ensures Zurich return to the Letzigrund with a foothold still in the tie.
. Emiliano Bonazzoli and Antonio Cassano both scored twice as Sampdoria put one foot in the group stage with a crushing victory against the Lithuanian champions. Bonazzoli broke the deadlock when he headed in Angelo Palombo’s corner (14) and added a second eight minutes later. Cassano got in on the act before the break and scored again 12 minutes into the second half with a fine curling free-kick.
A dire night for Kaunas was compounded when Vytautas Lukša was sent off for a second yellow card with three minutes to play before substitute Bruno Fornaroli headed another in the final minute.
Napoli prevailed in a five-goal thriller at the Stadio San Paolo, but Luisão’s 59th-minute strike to reduce the arrears leaves Benfica well placed for the return. The Portuguese side had appeared in good stead in Italy when David Suazo (16) headed them in front, yet within three minutes goals from Luigi Vitale and German Denis had turned the match on its head.
Both owed much to good fortune and there was more than a hint of luck in Napoli’s third goal ten minutes after half-time too as Léo diverted Christian Maggio‘s cross past Quim. Luisão quickly responded, however, to leave the tie in the balance.
First-half goals from Antonio Floro Flores and Gokhan Inler put Udinese in the driving seat at the Westfalenstadion as the Italian side made the most of some sloppy Dortmund defending to take control of the tie. Floro Flores struck on the break 8 minutes in before Swiss international Inler doubled the advantage when he turned in Simone Pepe’s cross with 34 minutes played.
A young Dortmund side regrouped after the interval but were fortunate not to fall further behind as they pressed for a way back into the tie.