Posts Tagged ‘Daniele De Rossi’

Netherlands 3-0 Italy: The Aftermath

Monday, June 9th, 2008

After a match like this, one would normally do well to take a night’s rest to carefully analyze the situation, see what went wrong, and what can be done to correct it. That is undoubtedly what Roberto Donadoni and his players will be doing over the next few days, to make sure that this debacle isn’t repeated vs. Romania.

I, on the other hand, have the luxury to live in timezone where a night’s rest isn’t necessary: at 7′o clock in the evening I can attempt to take a preliminary guess at why (oh why) Italy conceded 3 goals tonight, without scoring any.

Culprit nº1: The Defense (in particular the center-backs)

When a team concedes 3 goals, it’s pretty obvious: it is either the defense’s fault, the goalkeeper’s fault, or both. When you have someone like Gigi Buffon, you’re pretty much covered goalkeeping-wise. Gigi’s clearance on Van der Vaart’s cross may not have been impeccable (he could have played it safe by deflecting the ball into corner), you can’t really fault Italy’s nº1 for the 1-0.

Materazzi-Barzagli now… that’s a whole other story. Before tonight, these two had played together competitively only once (and that was over a year ago). After tonight’s performance, it seems fairly obvious that that one match wasn’t enough: cohesion, covering, and man-marking were all horribly off the mark today. No one without exception thought Cannavaro’s injury would be easy to overcome, but to think that his absence would weigh so heavily onto a team which, over the years, has made of defense of their strongest weapons, was absolutely unthinkable. Over the next few days, Donadoni’s biggest efforts will have to be focused on this problem, because a solution is needed. Fast.

Materazzi‘s match (much like his season this year) was mediocre at best. My guess is that he just doesn’t have reliability anymore, he has lost his place as a starter. Barzagli wasn’t all that better to be honest, but at least one step higher than his Inter colleague. Unfortunately, alternatives aren’t exactly abundant in the Azzurri camp. Giorgio Chiellini had a phenomenal season with Juve in this role, but his recent test-match with Barzagli during practice ended with his team conceding five goals. Not the greatest of omens. Christian Panucci did a little better as he reverted to center-back during today’s match, but not by a great stretch. However, Fabio Grosso‘s rising match-form (both during training and vs. Netherlands) would make this solution the most likely choice for the match against Romania.

Culprit nº2: The Offside

You can say whatever you want about the Azzurri’s performance: they didn’t play well, they made too many mistakes, Holland deserved their win, blah blah blah. The fact of the matter is that, at the end of the day, the pivotal point in this match was Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s 1-0 goal. Was it offside, was it not offside? The key element to consider here is Panucci’s position at the time of Van Bronckhorst’s shot. There is absolutely no question that RVN was a good 2-3 yards past Andrea Barzagli at that time, so the question is: did the linesman base his call by considering Panucci was in fact in play, or is he just fu**ing blind as a bat?

No doubt UEFA will come up with some kind of statement in the next few days to clear this up, but my take on the matter: Panucci was out of the playing field, not participating in the play, and therefore cannot be considered as keeping RVN onside. Big fu**ing mistake by the linesman in my opinion.

Culprit nº3: Roberto Donadoni

Well, undoubtedly the coach is going to get some blame for this. Ultimately a few of his choices directly led to the Azzurri’s defeat today, but the question is: would anyone have done differently?

Starting from the Materazzi-Barzagli pick, it was undoubtedly a mistake that backfired, but in all honesty and in Donadoni’s defense: I would have chosen the exact same men. Materazzi had the experience, the reliability with the Azzurri shirt, and seemed the most ideal candidate to replace Fabio Cannavaro. Recent tests made with Chiellini-Barzagli hadn’t exactly been promising (see above), so the only other viable alternative was to put Panucci in the center and Grosso on the left. Something which, given the Lyon wing-back’s limited contribution to the defensive effort, Donadoni was probably not ready to risk.

By the same token, the Don’s choice at picking Massimo Ambrosini over Daniele De Rossi can be defended with the same arguments: “playing it safe” vs. “taking a chance”. Ambrosini gives more to the defensive effort than DDR, and his entente with AC Milan teammates Pirlo & Gattuso gives plenty of reliability (usually) to Italy’s midfield. Faced with a tough opponent like Holland, my guess is that Donadoni wanted to play the containment card early, leaving the ace of creativity to the likes of Pirlo, Di Natale, and Camoranesi. Given how things have turned out today, this was obviously the wrong choice but once again, crucifying Donadoni for it would be unjustified.

Now with that said, let’s leave the Devil’s advocate vest on the coat hanger and look at what Donadoni did do wrong (and should take blame for). Firstly the substitutions: they came too late. Had the score been only 0-1, one could have understood the Don not wanting to take too many chances just yet. However, the Azzurri were already two goals down at the break and considerably suffering in both defense & midfield. Changes were necessary to inject some creativity and at least attempt to turn things around. Grosso’s insertion for Materazzi was a good move, but was leaving Daniele De Rossi off the bench wise? Shouldn’t have more defensive players like Gattuso or Ambrosini made way for Serie A’s best midfielder this year, perhaps even for Alberto Aquilani? Finally, was keeping Cassano on the bench till minute 75 really a good idea?

The answer to all those questions, looking at tonight’s final result, is obviously no.

Minor culprits: The Midfield and Luca Toni

Now I now what you’re going to say… “don’t you fu**ing dare touch Luca Toni, what else could he have done?!” Notice I put our beloved Bayern Munich striker in the “minor culprit” section. And the answer to that previous question is… something more. This wasn’t, by all accounts, Toni’s finest performance. He did his share for a while but at some point, collectively collapsed mentally like the rest of his teammates. That missed re-directed header for Di Natale in minute 8 and that missed shot over van der Sar in minute 75 also raise questions… you’re much better than this Luca!! We need our goalscoring machine.

Onto a “less controversial” issue: the midfield. Today, it was quite simply terrible. Not as bad as the defense mind you, but when your opponents manage to beat you in ball possession, speed, and technique quite so vividly, something’s not working right. With Ambrosini, this should have been a “contain” type of midfield. It turned out to be quite the opposite (and the defense didn’t help). Common sense suggests Daniele De Rossi should be making a start vs. Romania in 3 days’ time.

My predictive guess for Italy’s formation in the next match?

Zambrotta, Panucci, Barzagli, Grosso
Gattuso, Pirlo, De Rossi
Camoranesi, Toni, Di Natale

And I’d say the odds of Di Natale & Del Piero are about 60/40 right now…

Video of the Day: Azzurri Soccer-Tennis (Cassano-Gattuso-Pirlo vs. Ambrosini-Camoranesi-De Rossi)

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Check out Gattuso at the end… he really doesn’t like to lose these it seems… :)

Italy’s Euro 2008 Roster – 23 Players, Aye to Cassano & Del Piero, Nay to Montolivo

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

In accordance to the UEFA-imposed May 28 deadline, Italian coach Roberto Donadoni has made his final roster selection for Euro 2008: the 23 players who will representing the Azzurri this Summer have been picked and as many expected, Fiorentina midfielder Riccardo Montolivo was the player discarded from the manager’s Pre-selection list.

I was expecting it, I’m not too disappointed” said Montolivo. “The coach told me I had been excluded from the roster, and we’ll discuss the possibility of me staying among the group until Friday, and perhaps participating in the friendly vs. Belgium in Florence“. Donadoni himself however revealed, later in the day, that Montolivo would be leaving Coverciano. “The choice has been made yesterday evening. I gave [Montolivo] the choice of remaining with us, and he decided to leave tonight“.

It’s worth mentioning that Montolivo was, until the last minute, in serious contention with Quagliarella. It isn’t a coincidence that in the official team picture, both Montolivo and Quagliarella appear on the far ends of the second and bottom rows respectively (i.e. in easy “position” to be cut out). The same situation had taken place for Euro 2000 and Giuseppe Pancaro, who was then discarded at the last minute by then-coach Dino Zoff.

Also, many (myself included) had expected the Don to make his final choice between Montolivo and Aquilani (who was struggling with form & playing time in the last part of the season), but I guess Donadoni was reassured by the performances of the Roma player during practice, and reverted his final choice to Montolivo/Quagliarella (the Udinese striker also had a bleak end of the season, compared to his usual abilities).

In addition, the final shirt numbers have been submitted to UEFA. De Rossi has inherited Totti’s nº10, Del Piero will be keeping nº7, and Cassano wil take nº18 (formerly Pippo Inzaghi’s).

Here’s the full list with numbers:

Number Goalkeepers: Club:
Nº14 Marco Amelia Livorno
Nº1 Gianluigi Buffon Juventus
Nº17 Morgan De Sanctis Sevilla
Nº6 Andrea Barzagli Palermo
Nº5 Fabio Cannavaro Real Madrid
Nº4 Giorgio Chiellini Juventus
Nº3 Fabio Grosso Lyon
Nº23 Marco Materazzi Inter
Nº2 Christian Panucci Roma
Nº19 Gianluca Zambrotta Barcelona
Nº13 Massimo Ambrosini Milan
Nº22 Alberto Aquilani Roma
Nº16 Mauro Camoranesi Juventus
Nº10 Daniele De Rossi Roma
Nº8 Gennaro Gattuso Milan
Nº20 Simone Perrotta Roma
Nº21 Andrea Pirlo Milan
Nº12 Marco Borriello Genoa
Nº18 Antonio Cassano Sampdoria
Nº7 Alessandro Del Piero Juventus
Nº11 Antonio Di Natale Udinese
Nº15 Fabio Quagliarella Udinese
Nº9 Luca Toni Bayern Munich

Partita del Cuore: Maradona’s Back on the Football Field

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Invited by Francesco Totti and Italian pop singer Eros Ramazzotti, Diego Armando Maradona has picked up his football boots once again. The Partita del Cuore is a yearly humanitarian event in Italy, and what it comes down to is basically a charity match between Italian celebrity figures, plus a selection of professional football players (usually from the golden years).

This year, it was Nazionale Cantanti (Italian Singers national team) vs. Unica, a team composed of players, TV personalities, and actors. The charity they sponsored was Fondazione Parco della Mistica, a foundation dedicated to the restructuring of 82 acres of land outside of Rome. On Monday, both teams stepped onto the grass of the Stadio Olimpico of Rome, and the thousands of fans in the stands had once again the pleasure to see Diego Maradona in action.

Here were the starting line-ups:

Nazionale Italiana Cantanti: Daniele De Rossi (goalkeeper), Mogol (captain), Paolo Belli, Gianni Morandi, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Enrico Ruggeri, Raoul Bova, Luca Barbarossa, Gigi D’Alessio, Diego Armando Maradona, Eros Ramazzotti.

Unica: Andrea Lucchetta (goalkeeper), Marco Carta, Luciano Spalletti, Claudio Amendola, Enrico Fabris, Aldair, Sebastiano Somma, Bruno Conti (captain), Giancarlo Fisichella, Zico, Angelo Peruzzi.

Managers: Francesco Totti and Gianluigi Buffon.

Referee: Stefano Farina.

Yes, I liked the idea of playing De Rossi in goal and Peruzzi as a striker too. :D For the record, the match ended 6-6 with goals by Ramazzotti (4), Antonacci, and Maradona (on a penalty kick) for the singers, and Fisichella (2), Amendola, Dovizioso (the MotoGP pilot), Moelgg (Italian alpine skier) and Fabris (Italian ice skater) for “Unica”.

Here’s a video of the event. Check out the super-goal by Eros Ramazzotti by the way… wow! In pure “à la Del Piero” style, no wonder Ramazzotti’s a staunch Juventus fan, huh? You think ADP’s been giving him lessons? :)

And here’s some more photos of Maradona in action (courtesy of KwSport):

Serie A Matchday 37 – Week-end Review + GOALS of the Week (2007-08)

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Week-End Reviews

Here are the results and summaries for matchday 37. Full Video Highlights here.

Italian Calcio Blog week 37 review

Italian Calcio Blog

Gazzetta in English week 37 review

Gazzetta dello Sport

MILAN, 11 May 2008 – Those who thought everything had already been decided were in for a surprise today: we will have to wait to the last round to know who wins the Scudetto this year. Inter were hoping to celebrate early, but drew 2-2 against Siena today, with Roma only one point behind then in the standings. Patrick Vieira opened the score, Massimo Maccarone drew and at the end of the first half, Mario Balotelli’s goal brought peace of mind back to Inter. In the second half however, Houssine Kharja evened the score and Marco Materazzi’s penalty kick was deflected by Alex Manninger, putting a damper in San Siro’s celebratory plans. For Roma however celebration was very much in order, because Panucci’s and De Rossi’s goals sufficed to win over Atalanta and keep Roman hope alive. The last 90 minutes of serie A will be decisive.

THE RACE FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – In the fight for a place in Europe’s top-flight competition Fiorentina moved ahead of Milan today, taking the fourth place in the standings. Facing against a struggling Parma side, La Viola went one goal down very early in the match (headed goal by Igor Budan), but Mario Santana replied for Fiorentina and Franco Semioli and Pablo Osvaldo followed suit. The Gialloblu will have to fight for survival next week, and they’ll have a very tough customer (Inter). On their part, AC Milan (in fourth place before today’s game after winning the derby last week), lost at Stadio San Paolo against a stunning Napoli side (goals from Marek Hamsik, Maurizio Domizzi and György Garics) before Clarence Seedorf scored the Rossoneri’s consolation goal. The Neapolitans move ahead of Genoa in the standings, who fell today in Marassi at the hands of a Lazio. Inspired by the return of Stefano Mauri, the Biancocelesti overcame the Rossoblu through their striking duo Pandev-Rocchi (1 goal each).

THE BATTLE AGAINST RELEGATION – The first veredict was signed today at the bottom of the standings: Livorno are down to Serie B. The Amaranto lost their last chance for survival in Serie A against Torino (goal from Alessandro Rosina) and bid farewell to Serie A one week before the end of the season. The Granata are safe, and so are Cagliari: the Sardinians (who looked somewhat lost up to only a few months ago) secured their stay in Serie A today, during the first ten minutes of the second half of their match vs. Udinese (goals by Robert Acquafresca and Andrea Cossu). Meanwhile, Marino’s Udinese fell behind Sampdoria in the standings, who won 2-0 in Palermo (goals from Antonio Cassano and Christian Maggio) in Amauri’s last match in front of his fans.

Reggina are also safe after winning the “tie breaker” against Empoli with goals from Edgar Barreto and Nicola Amoruso. The Tuscan side can still hope however, thanks to Juventus‘s draw against Catania (temporarily ahead with a goal from Jorge Martinez) with Alessandro Del Piero’s 19th goal of the season (who now join Trezeguet and Borriello in the ‘capocannonieri’ ranking of the league). We won’t know until next week which one of the three – Empoli, Parma and Catania – will join Livorno down to Serie B.



Aside from all the Scudetto-related excitement of Inter-Siena game, the Fiorentina win over Parma, the AC Milan loss vs. Napoli (and so on and so forth), matchday 37 was also characterized by tons of awesome goals, and after last week’s scarce “weight-loss” menu this comes as a very welcome surprise. I’m not putting all of them here but feel free to check the others out for yourself. I recommend, in particular, Hamsik’s goal vs. Milan or Osvaldo’s tackled volley vs. Parma.

This week, the goal-of-the-week award goes to Edgar Barreto. Boy was this an important win for Reggina, who are now assured of remaining in Serie A another season, but check out the goal that opened the score for the Amaranto! That must have been (at least) a 35-yarder (scroll to minute 01:20):


Results Summary


Serie A – day 37
Fiorentina – Parma 3 – 1
Genoa – Lazio 0 - 2
Inter – Siena 2 - 2
Juventus – Catania 1 - 1
Livorno – Torino 0 - 1
Napoli – Milan 3 - 1
Palermo – Sampdoria 0 - 2
Reggina – Empoli 2 - 0
Roma – Atalanta 2 - 1
Udinese – Cagliari 0 - 2