Posts Tagged ‘France’

Azzurri & Les Bleus: Destinies Intertwined with Oranje… and Biscuits

Monday, June 16th, 2008

For all those of you who understand a bit of Italian (at least enough to scan through headlines of sports websites), the big boot’s topic of conversation these past few days gravitated around a Dutch-Romanian “biscotto”. Huh? Biscotto? Doesn’t that mean “biscuit”? Indeed it does, but in the language of Dante Alighieri it also has a secondary meaning.

The Fantagrumo blog has an excellent explanation, which I’ve translated below:

“Biscotto” is an Italian colloquialism often employed in soccer (or other sports), used to describe a result secretly agreed upon in advance by two athletes or teams. It is practically synonymous with the French word “combine”, which can be translated in English as “trick”, “scheme” or “fiddle”. A “combine” is a close pact made to fix the result of a match before it actually takes place, usually in exchange for money (essentially, we are talking about corruption). “Biscotto” is more specific in the sense there need not be an exchange of money, because the secretly-agreed-upon result is of mutual benefit to the agreeing parties.

Actions taken in result of a “combine” or “biscotto” may vary: from losing a game deliberately, allowing an opponent to tie the game, or intentionally failing to man-mark an opposing striker. The direct result of the secret agreement naturally damages a third party, which is usually a direct opponent of those involved in the scheme.

The word “biscotto” derives from the latin root bis-coctum, which litterally means “cooked twice”: effectively, two teams are gaining an advantage while damaging a third (or a fourth). One could even be using the expression “killing two birds with one stone”.

The Azzurri’s history in the Euro championships already bears witness to a “biscotto”. During Euro 2004, Italy had tied its first two matches against Denmark and Sweden, and was left with the obligation to beat Bulgaria on matchday 3, all the while hoping that Denmark vs. Sweden would not end in a tie (a result which would have sent both Scandinavian teams to the quarter-finals). What do you know? The match ended 2-2.

In the case of Netherlands vs. Romania, the term “biscotto” is being used because both teams would benefit from a Romanian victory: Romania would qualify to the quarter-finals as 2nd-ranked, Netherlands would simultaneously get rid of two title favorites Italy and France (which, in case you didn’t notice, could potentially play Holland again in the Semi-Finals).

That’s for the Italian etymology lesson. With that said, everyone in Italy (and in France I guess) can only hope that Netherlands will be good sports and play their last match to win (despite the fact they will undoubtedly field many reserve players).

Gazzetta tells us more about it:

MOEDLING (Austria), 14 June 2008 – And now it’s France-Italy. Rather, it’s Netherlands-Romania. Just like four years ago in Portugal, the scary shadow of a “biscotto” (an unspoken agreement) hangs over the fate of the Azzurri. And over that of their French neighbours. Michel Platini, UEFA President, will be sitting next to FIGC President Giancarlo Abete in the stands at Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich. It’s a common fate.

MARCO AND FATE – Hitting the nail right on the head… What will Holland do? What will be their starting line-up? Will they give Romania the green light? Those are all valid questions. William Gaillard, UEFA spokesman, stated that “no one can impose a specific line-up on a coach.” Especially when the team has already qualified for the next round. It’s a gargantuan dilemma in other words, but Roberto Donadoni doesn’t have doubts.

I know Marco Van Basten quite well” says the Italian coach. “He is an honest, fair and competent man and these qualities are already a guarantee.” The Don trusts his friend, whom he hasn’t seen in six months except for the sad circumstances on Monday in Bern. The Azzurro coach considers the Oranje’s so-called ‘second team’ to be very interested in proving their value, both to their coach and to the first team. And he gives an example: “In the group round of Euro 2000, we had already qualified but we beat Sweden 2-0 with many ‘reserves’” (indeed, Dino Zoff made eight changes for that game).

DIFFERENCE OF OPINIONS – The opinions run high in the Dutch camp. Giving away the match? “We always play to win“, reassures Dutch keeper Edwin van der Sar. This opinion is shared by Arjen Robben, one of the Oranje’s stars against France: “It will be a game where we can have fun, but we are playing to win; I always play to win.” Ruud van Nistelrooy has a different opinion and honestly admits: “These matches are tackled differently when you don’t have to worry about qualifying.”

Euro 2008: Group C Qualification Scenarios (Italy, France, Romania)

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

Man don’t you just hate this? Being forced to ask the “what if” question repeatedly and make calculations, in order to find out your team’s chances of qualifying? And to think that all could be avoided simply by winning the first two group games.

Alas for the Azzurri, we already know that ship has sailed. Let’s see if they can catch up with Netherlands with a late flight or something…

.

Matchday 2: Group C Standings

First let’s start with the group standings after matchday 2. Here’s the situation:

Rank
Team
PTS
GP
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
1
Netherlands
6
2
2
0
0
7
1
+6
2
Romania
2
2
0
2
0
1
1
0
3
France
1
2
0
1
1
1
4
-3
4
Italy
1
2
0
1
1
1
4
-3

As you can tell from the table, Netherlands have already clinched their qualification and are mathematically guaranteed of ranking 1st. Romania, France, and Italy are therefore left to contend 2nd spot.
.

Straight from the rulebook…

First, let’s make the rules & regulations clear for everyone. The following is straight from the “Regulations of the UEFA European Football Championship” document, article 7.07:

Equality of points after the group matches

Article 7.07

If two or more teams are equal on points on completion of all the matches in their group, the following criteria will be used to determine the rankings in the order given:

a) number of points obtained in the matches among the teams in question;
b) goal difference in the matches among the teams in question;
c) numbers of goals scored in the matches among the teams in question (if more than two teams finish equal on points);
d) goal difference in all the group matches;
e) number of goals scored in all the group matches;
f) coefficient from the qualifying competitions for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and 2006/08 UEFA European Football Championship (points obtained divided by the number of matches played);
g) fair play conduct of the teams (final tournament);
h) drawing of lots;

.

Group C Qualification Scenarios

Ok, so now that we’ve established tie-breaking criteria, let’s look at win/draw/loss scenarios for the last two group games:
.

Netherlands
vs.
Romania
France
vs.
Italy
2nd-ranked
……Tie-breaker
.
.

.
.
NETHERLANDS
FRANCE
FRANCE
(points)
.
.
NETHERLANDS
by 2 or less
scoreless draw
ROMANIA
d) Goal difference in all the group matches
.
.
NETHERLANDS
by 3-0 or more
scoreless draw
ITALY
f) FIFA/UEFA coefficient
.
.
NETHERLANDS
by 4-1, 5-2, etc.
scoreless draw
ROMANIA
e) Nº of goals scored in all group matches
.
.
NETHERLANDS
draw with goals
ITALY
c) Goals scored in ROM / ITA / FRA matches
.
.
NETHERLANDS
ITALY
ITALY
(points)
.
.
draw
FRANCE
FRANCE
(points)
.
.
draw
draw
ROMANIA
(points)
.
.
draw
ITALY
ITALY
(points)
.
.
ROMANIA
FRANCE
ROMANIA
(points)
.
.
ROMANIA
draw
ROMANIA
(points)
.
.
ROMANIA
ITALY
ROMANIA
(points)
.
.

.

Scenarios 2, 3, 4, and 5 deserve some further explanation.

Netherlands beat Romania by 2 goals or less, Italy vs. France ends 0-0
In this scenario, Romania, Italy, and France end up with 2 points each and with identical goal differences and goals scored (when considering only the France vs. Romania, Italy vs. Romania, and France vs. Italy matches). Thus, the 4th tie-breaking criterion (d) applies and ROMANIA qualifies based on their better global goal differential.

Rank
Team
PTS
GP
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
1
Netherlands
9
3
3
0
0
9
1
+8
2
Romania
2
3
0
2
1
1
3
-2
3
Italy
2
3
0
2
1
1
4
-3
4
France
2
3
0
2
1
1
4
-3

.

Rank
Team
PTS
GP
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
1
Italy
2
2
0
2
0
1
1
0
1
Romania
2
2
0
2
0
1
1
0
3
France
2
2
0
2
0
0
0
0

.
Netherlands beat Romania 3-0, Italy vs. France ends 0-0
Once again Romania, Italy, and France end up with 2 points each and with identical goal differences and goals scored (when considering only the France vs. Romania, Italy vs. Romania, and France vs. Italy matches) and also identical goal differences and goals scored globally in group C. Thus, the 5th tie-breaking criterion (f) applies (FIFA/UEFA coefficient from World Cup 2006 and Euro 2008 qualifying campaigns: points obtained divided by the number of matches played), which sees ITALY ranked higher than Romania and France.

Rank
Team
PTS
GP
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
1
Netherlands
9
3
3
0
0
10
1
+9
2
Italy
2
3
0
2
1
1
4
-3
3
Romania
2
3
0
2
1
1
4
-3
4
France
2
3
0
2
1
1
4
-3

.

Rank
Team
PTS
GP
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
1
Italy
2
2
0
2
0
1
1
0
1
Romania
2
2
0
2
0
1
1
0
3
France
2
2
0
2
0
0
0
0

.
Netherlands beat Romania by 4-1, 5-2, etc. (i.e. Romania lose by 3 goals but score at least one), Italy vs. France ends 0-0
In this scenario, Romania, Italy, and France end up with 2 points each and with identical goal differences and goals scored (when considering only the France vs. Romania, Italy vs. Romania, and France vs. Italy matches). Thus, the 5th tie-breaking criterion (e) applies and ROMANIA qualifies based on their higher global number of goals scored.

Rank
Team
PTS
GP
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
1
Netherlands
9
3
3
0
0
11
2
+9
2
Romania
2
3
0
2
1
2
5
-3
3
Italy
2
3
0
2
1
1
4
-3
4
France
2
3
0
2
1
1
4
-3

.

Rank
Team
PTS
GP
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
1
Italy
2
2
0
2
0
1
1
0
1
Romania
2
2
0
2
0
1
1
0
3
France
2
2
0
2
0
0
0
0

.

Netherlands beat Romania, Italy vs. France ends in a draw with goals
In this case, Romania, Italy, and France end up with 2 points each and with identical goal differences (when considering only the France vs. Romania, Italy vs. Romania, and France vs. Italy matches). However since Romania vs. France ended 0-0, and because of the goal they already scored vs. Romania (on matchday 2), any goal scored in the match vs. France (matchday 3) puts ITALY above the lot for the 3rd tie-breaking criterion (c).

Rank
Team
PTS
GP
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
1
Netherlands
9
3
3
0
0
8
1
+7
2
Italy
2
3
0
2
1
1
2
-1
3
Romania
2
3
0
2
1
1
2
-1
4
France
2
3
0
2
1
2
5
-3

.

Rank
Team
PTS
GP
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
1
Italy
2
2
0
2
0
2
2
0
2
Romania
2
2
0
2
0
1
1
0
3
France
2
2
0
2
0
1
1
0

.

Phew! That burnt a few brain cells…

I’d just like to say I spent a fair amount of time researching this, so technically I should have gotten everything right. However feel free to point out any mistakes and/or ask questions if you need further explanations.

Fun with Franck & Luca: The Toni-Ribéry Show (The Grand Final)

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

France vs. Italy might still be two weeks away (Tuesday June 17, 20:45 CET), but members of the two teams have already began the eager anticipation.

We had Gattuso vs. Malouda back in September (when the two teams met for qualifiers), it’s now time for two other components of the Azzurri and Les Bleus. Presenting to you: the Franck Ribéry vs. Luca Toni show.

These two have become quite inseparable friends since their arrival in Munich last year, so the FC Bayern management had the great idea of putting them together for a TV ad, produced by Allianz (the German insurance company which sponsors the club and after which the Bayern Stadium -Allianz Arena- is named). 

Here’s the result:

Although the clip is pretty much self-explanatory, here’s the translation for those with limited French/Italian knowledge:

The clip starts with Ribéry’s cell phone ringing, playing the French national anthem. At which Toni reacts by taking off his shirt and showing his “Italy Campioni del Mondo” t-shirt.

Ribery: “Hello? Honey?”
Toni: “Honey? What honey? Here, look”. (shows t-shirt)
Ribery: “Man, you suck. All you Italians you suck. Afterwards, we’ll go you and me”
Toni: “Ok, no problem”

Ribery: “Here, can you do THIS, you Spaghetti world champion?” (scoops the ball into basket)
Toni: “Man that’s easy”

Toni: “Here look, let me see you do this” (tries to bounce the ball into the stadium and fails)
Ribery (bursts out laughing, then succeeds where Toni had failed): “Ahhh look at this. Italiano? No. Francais? Yeaaah!”

Toni (attempting to dribble Ribery, then feigns a cramp, then pushes Ribery out of the way): “Come on!”
Ribery: “Hey man, this is not Serie A. Try to play soccer.”
Toni: “Come on, pay attention!”

(more fun on the field, then they go up the stands to shoot in the net. Ribery scores first)

Ribery: “Ah you can’t do that can you? The Italian he can’t, the French he can”
Toni: “Yeah yeah let me show you the Italian now” (goes up more stairs) The French? Ah! La baguette… let me give you the baguette.” (scores into goal)
Ribery: “That was luck”
Toni: “Ok, so let’s go on the roof. Come on! On the roof!”
Ribery: “Okay let’s go”
Stadium steward: “Stop, it’s over! Schluss! Finito!” (kicks them out)

 

The Official website has a few additional features (on top of the video) including pictures, an interview with Toni & Ribery, plus Cut Scenes & Making Of clips to be coming soon.

[Note: special thanks to Kevin of Serie A Talk for letting me know about the ad first]

France’s Euro 2008 Roster – 23 Players, No Cissé or Mexès and Gomis is a Surprise

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Since it’s May 28 and all the Euro 2008 rosters have been finalized, let’s take a look at Italy’s biggest rivals from Group C. It may be called the “Group of Death”, but I am talking of course about France. Coach Raymond Domenech had already made a “Pre-selection” list of 30 players some weeks ago, eventually cutting down the group to the required 23 imposed by UEFA. Much like World Cup 2006 (which saw the surprise call-ups of Franck Ribéry and Pascal Chimbonda) there were a few surprises in the list, in particular regarding the absentees.

For example, Mickaël Landreau and Djibril Cissé had extensively featured on Les Bleus‘s roster since the World Cup but instead, the French coach chose to privilege and reward the recent form of Steve Mandanda (keeper for Marseille) and Bafetimbi Gomis (striker for St. Etienne).  Les Verts‘s forward had surprised everyone this Tuesday, by scoring the two victory goals in France’s friendly encounter vs. Ecuador (one better than the other, the second of which a spectacular scissor-kick). Cissé must be really fuming though, because he hasn’t played in a major tournament since World Cup 2002 (he was suspended in 2004 and injured in 2006).

In defense, the biggest surprise comes from the absence of Julien Escudé, a pillar of FC Sevilla’s and France’s backline in recent years (it seems however that the French center-back “re-awakened” his hernia (pubalgia) problems on Tuesday and was thus excluded for health/fitness reasons), as well as that of for Philippe Mexès (considered by many as one of Serie A’s best defenders this year). The latter just further demonstrates my theory that Domenech has an absolute phobia for anything coming from Italy, biggest case in point being David Trezeguet‘s (20 goals in Serie A this season, one goal behind topscorer Del Piero) absence even from the “Pre-Selection” list. One really has to wonder how on Earth Sebastien Frey didn’t get the cut.

Finally, Jérémy Toulalan and Lassana Diarra were preferred over Mathieu Flamini and Alou Diarra (Flamini just signed for AC Milan… you see how proving my theory just gets easier and easier?), while Hatem Ben Arfa was discarded due to his limited use in Lyon’s line-up this year. French sports newspaper L’Équipe suggests that by choosing 4 main strikers (Henry, Anelka, Benzema, Gomis) in his roster, Raymond Domenech is determined to keep utilizing his tested 4-4-2 formation for the SwissAustria tournament.

Here’s the full list:

.

Number Goalkeepers: Club:
Nº23 Grégory Coupet Lyon
Nº16 Sébastien Frey Fiorentina
Nº1 Steve Mandanda Marseille
.  
Defenders:  
Nº3 Eric Abidal Barcelona
Nº2 Jean-Alain Boumsong Lyon
Nº14 François Clerc Lyon
Nº13 Patrice Evra Man Utd
Nº5 William Gallas Arsenal
Nº19 Willy Sagnol Bayern Munich
Nº17 Sébastien Squillaci Lyon
Nº15 Lilian Thuram Barcelona
.  
Midfielders:  
Nº21 Lassana Diarra Portsmouth
Nº10 Sidney Govou Lyon
Nº6 Claude Makélélé Chelsea
Nº7 Florent Malouda Chelsea
Nº11 Samir Nasri Marseille
Nº22 Franck Ribéry Bayern Munich
Nº4 Patrick Vieira Inter
.  
Forwards:  
Nº8 Nicolas Anelka Chelsea
Nº9 Karim Benzema Lyon
Nº18 Bafétimbi Gomis St. Etienne
Nº12 Thierry Henry Barcelona

Euro 2008 Matches & Results

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Euro 2008 Matches & Results

Euro 2008 kicks off on Saturday 7 June 2008. mCalcio will of course be covering the entire Azzurri progress through the tournament, as well as any major game I fancy writing about (with the quality of teams present, expect plenty of excitement). 

Here’s the full list of Euro 2008 matches: feel free to bookmark this page and share it online. Once the tournament starts, this page will updated daily to post results as well.

All times are CET.

Saturday 7 June 2008
Group
Teams & Kick-Off Time
1
Grp A
Switzerland
0-1
Czech Rep.
2
Grp A
Portugal
2-0
Turkey
.
Sunday 8 June 2008
3
Grp B
Austria
0-1
Croatia
4
Grp B
Germany
2-0
Poland
.
Monday 9 June 2008
5
Grp C
Romania
0-0
France
6
Grp C
Netherlands
3-0
Italy
.
Tuesday 10 June 2008
7
Grp D
Spain
4-1
Russia
8
Grp D
Greece
0-2
Sweden
.
Wednesday 11 June 2008
9
Grp A
Czech Rep.
1-3
Portugal
10
Grp A
Switzerland
1-2
Turkey
.
Thursday 12 June 2008
11
Grp B
Croatia
2-1
Germany
12
Grp B
Austria
1-1
Poland
.
Friday 13 June 2008
13
Grp C
Italy
1-1
Romania
14
Grp C
Netherlands
4-1
France
.
Saturday 14 June 2008
15
Grp D
Sweden
1-2
Spain
16
Grp D
Greece
0-1
Russia
.
Sunday 15 June 2008
17
Grp A
Switzerland
2-0
Portugal
18
Grp A
Turkey
3-2
Czech Rep.
.
Monday 16 June 2008
19
Grp B
Poland
0-1
Croatia
20
Grp B
Austria
0-1
Germany
.
Tuesday 17 June 2008
21
Grp C
Netherlands
2-0
Romania
22
Grp C
France
0-2
Italy
.
Wednesday 18 June 2008
23
Grp D
Greece
1-2
Spain
24
Grp D
Russia
2-0
Sweden
.
.
Thursday 19 June 2008
25
QF
Portugal
2-3
Germany
.
Friday 20 June 2008
26
QF
Croatia
1-1
1-3(p)
Turkey
.
Saturday 21 June 2008
27
QF
Netherlands
1-3
(aet)
Russia
.
Sunday 22 June 2008
28
QF
Spain
0-0
4-2(p)
Italy
.
Wednesday 25 June 2008
29
SF
Germany
3-2
Turkey
.
Thursday 26 June 2008
30
SF
Russia
0-3
Spain
.
Sunday 29 June 2008
31
F
Germany
0-1
Spain

.

.

Group Standings

.

Group A
.
Teams
Pld
+/-
Pts
Euro 2008
Portugal
3
+2
6
Turkey
3
0
6
Czech Republic
3
-2
3
Switzerland
3
0
3
.
.
Group B
.
Teams
Pld
+/-
Pts
Euro 2008
Croatia
3
+3
9
Germany
3
+2
6
Austria
3
-2
1
Poland
3
-3
1
.
.
Group C
.
Teams
Pld
+/-
Pts
Euro 2008
Netherlands
3
+8
9
Italy
3
-1
4
Romania
3
-2
2
France
3
-5
1
.
.
Group D
.
Teams
Pld
+/-
Pts
Euro 2008
Spain
3
+5
9
Russia
3
0
6
Sweden
3
-1
3
Greece
3
-4
0

.

. Key:
Pld
Matches played
+/-
Goal difference
Pts
Points

.