Posts Tagged ‘Frank Lampard’

Chelsea vs. Juventus: The PLAYERS

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Chelsea vs. Juventus: The PLAYERS

Continuing to surf on La Gazzetta‘s “Serie A vs. EPL” wave, here are ALL THE PLAYERS from UEFA Champions League’s Chelsea vs. Juventus.


Chelsea 5-0 AC Milan: Rossoneri Humiliated by Blues in Russian Railways Cup 2008

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008


Or in other words: ouch.

With this year’s Russian Railways Cup (an annual pre-season football tournament held in the Russian capital and hosted by FC Lokomotiv Moscow) featuring prestigious teams such as Sevilla, Chelsea, and AC Milan, this was the perfect opportunity for the Rossoneri to test their European pre-season form. The loss against FC Sevilla (capped by a Gattuso own goal) on Saturday was already disappointing enough for Milan supporters, but needless to say that after today’s whopping 5-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea (goals by Lampard and a Nicolas Anelka quadruple), Ancelotti has a lot of work on his hands if he hopes to achieve anything in the UEFA Cup this season (or Serie A for that matter).

Some might even seize this opportunity to badmouth, and say that perhaps it’s not such a bad thing Milan aren’t in the Champions League this year :twisted: , but I’m not going to go that far. Indeed, without a real striker providing weight up front (Inzaghi, Pato, and Borriello were all unavailable) the Rossoneri are losing much of their well-oiled machine capabilities, so let’s just wait till the manpower is back from injury and/or the Olympics (along with a certain Ronaldinho) before making hasty conclusions.

Still in the meantime, eating five goals from Chelsea has got to hurt…

(From Gazzetta): MOSCOW, 3 August 2008 – Humiliated and shattered. AC Milan leave Moscow with a heavy heart, after being defeated by Chelsea in the third place match of the Russian Railways Cup, a game which ended with a 5-0 victory for the Blues. Playing without a clear tactical plan (due to the many absentees, especially the strikers), the Rossoneri never got in the game and completely fell apart when confronted with their Premiership opponents. A devastating gap, highlighted by the difference in preparation between the two teams and also in the way each one approached this friendly encounter.

NO STRIKERS – All things considered, the loss is far easier to understand if one looks at AC Milan’s line-up. Carlo Ancelotti selected Kalac at goal, a defensive line-up that included Bonera, Maldini, Simic, and Favalli, with Zambrotta and Jankulovski out on the flanks in midfield and Gattuso and Flamini inside. The “strikers”? Pirlo and Ambrosini (no, that’s not a typo), with the former operating behind the latter. Such a combination doesn’t even begin to make sense, but this was a necessary arrangement due to the unavailability of almost all strikers and Alberto Paloschi being left on the bench.  Chelsea on the other hand could count on “full troops”, as Luiz Felipe Scolari lined up his best team (or almost) with Cech – Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, A. Cole – Ballack, Mikel, Lampard – Wright-Philips, Anelka, Malouda.

The Londoners just needed a third of the first half to slice Milan: Frank Lampard opened the score in the minute 3, followed by Nicolas Anelka in the 8th and 18th. Shivering stuff.  Zeljko Kalac couldn’t get his hands on a single shot, the kind of performance that ranks a keeper back to third choice (because that’s as low as you can get). By comparison, Dida gets the Lev Yaschin award. As for the defence, it could have made you pull your (rossonero) hair out: bad clearances and acres of space being left to the British team, able to maneuver pretty much unopposed. Plenty of confusion in midfield as well, while a very composed Chelsea kept spreading out.
ALARMS – The substitutes entering in the second half (Seedorf, Kaladze, Digao, Antonini and Paloschi) didn’t seem to make any difference. Actually, Chelsea pushed even harder and Nicolas Anelka scored two more goals, much to Roman Abramovich‘s delight (who in good company in the stands with girlfriend Daria Zhukova, couldn’t stop applauding). In the 66th minute, Anelka left the pitch for Andriy Shevchenko, who until then had been a mere eye-witness to his former teammates’ baffling performance. Sheva was committed to creating confusion and pushed Kalac further to the limit, as Milan’s goalkeeper continued his state of shock and progressively made his bench-warming role for future line-ups more and more certain.

Eventually, the massacre ended 5-0 without any further casualties, with a spectacle that Milan could have avoided and that will go down in history, despite this being a friendly match. Who knows, maybe Sunday was useful to make Milan’s powers-that-be understand Serie A is not a joke, and that they still have one month to sign a decent goalkeeper and at least a couple of real defenders. Surely they’ll want to leave the battle against relegation to other teams.



[Match Highlights]
 AC Milan
GOALSCORERS: 3’ Lampard (C), 8’, 19’, 50’, 58’ Anelka (C)
CHELSEA (4-3-3): Cech (71’ Cudicini) – Ivanovic (61’ P.Ferreira), Alex, Terry (61’ Carvalho), A.Cole – Ballack (46’ Deco), Mikel, Lampard – S.W.Philips (77’ Sinclair), Anelka (66’ Shevchenko), Malouda. Coach: Scolari.
MILAN (4-5-1): Kalac – Bonera (46’ Paloschi), Maldini (46’ Digao), Simic (46’ Kaladze), Favalli (64’ Antonini) – Zambrotta, Gattuso, Flamini, Jankulovski, Pirlo – Ambrosini (46’ Seedorf). Coach: Ancelotti.


Inter’s New ‘Kid’ is in Town: The José Mourinho Show Begins…

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

The news almost got lost amidst all the post-Cannavaro injury chaos, but José Mourinho‘s first official press conference as Inter manager already left its mark in Italy. Showcasing an almost perfect mastery of the Italian language, the ex-Chelsea manager lived up to his reputation; clarity, self-confidence, and witty repartee were all present in the 45 minutes Mourinho spoke to the press, and one thing was clear at the end of the day: the ‘Special One’ wants to win titles!

From Gazzetta: Inter directors Giuseppe Baresi, Marco Branca and Ernesto Paolillo were at his side but Mourinho did all the talking himself, speaking at length and holding nothing back. The Portuguese manager feels strong and eager to start his new project: as a perfectionist who demands the best from himself, the press conference even began a few minutes early, and Mourinho threw himself into his studies like he does into the game: with all his heart and soul. His Italian is already fluent and requires no need for interpreters. He switched easily between Italian and English, answering journalists’ questions in their mother tongue, stressing however that for him English was now the exception, and would only be used to give individual answers.

Mourinho said he does not shy away from responsibility and is not daunted by following in Roberto Mancini’s footsteps; he even mentioned the ex-Inter coach several times. He wants to win (particularly the Champions League), and his broad shoulders and CV that speaks for itself should provide plenty of ammunition to achieve that objective.

THE ‘SPECIAL ONE’? - “I am at a special club, so I want to be known only as ‘José Mourinho’. I think I am a great manager but here I am just another cog in a big machine. I will be starting a new chapter, following on from that led by Roberto, also a great manager. I am different, however: this is my challenge now. I know I do a good job, so results are sure to follow. I’m delighted to be here: I have always dreamed of working in Italy, which is a fantastic country from a football perspective. I would like to thank Moratti and Branca for having brought me here.”

ROSTER & TRANSFERS – “According to what I read in the press, I must be aiming to work with a squad of 60 players. I actually want 21, plus three goalkeepers. I like the current squad and we don’t need to make dramatic changes. We need 2, maximum 3 players to improve and change our style a little. These players are now my players and from this moment on they are the best in the world. I want them to know that I like what I have. I am dying to start; it will be difficult to wait until July 15. I am aiming to only take 21 players to our training camp in Brunico, perhaps giving Materazzi a week’s rest. Regarding Chelsea players, I’d love to sign them if they’re for sale. Many of them would love to play for me again.”

NEGOTIATIONS WITH INTER – “The initial contact was made the day after the second leg of the Inter-Liverpool match. I didn’t begin studying Italian then, however: I’ve only been learning for three or four weeks. It’s a Latin language and I speak Portuguese and Spanish, so it isn’t very difficult for me to learn.”

SERIE A – “Serie A is improving and will go back to being the best league in the world. Milan, Juventus and Roma have excellent teams and are looking to improve; they are sure to make big signings. I want us to be up there fighting for the title.”

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – “It is not only the fans that dream of a Champions League triumph. There will be 11 teams looking to win it next season: 3 Italian, 4 English, 1 German and 3 Spanish. It is a competition in which details matter and make the difference between triumph and failure. During the last 4 years I have won it once and reached the semi-finals twice. I have also won the UEFA Cup. I think I am good in cup competitions, whether domestic or European and I don’t think it will be more difficult here than it was with Chelsea, who had less pedigree. For me the challenge is always the same: I want to win. That will be our aim in every competition, even the Super Cup.”

LEADERSHIP – “I need to talk to my players to decide how we will play. I like to communicate, then I take the decisions myself.”

ADRIANO & the other Brazilians - “I will go to Brazil on June 18 for Brazil-Argentina, to talk to my Brazilian and Argentine players. Crespo, who has already played with me at Chelsea, will be able to help me tell his team-mates that with me in charge players have to work hard if they want to play. Lazy players don’t get on the pitch.”

TACTICS – “I like to have one main formation, but then be able to adapt and be multifunctional.”

WINNING VALUES – “The Chairman gave me a wonderful book on the history of Inter, but now I want to begin writing a second volume: I want to turn a new page. The first rule will be to forget past victories: they are in the past and should be consigned to history. The day I wake up without ambition will be the day I go back to Portugal.” It seems a long way off…

Finally, in pure Mourinho style, the Portuguese manager had this to say to a journalist who, for the upteenth time, asked him about players from Chelsea:

Journalist: “From what you have observed in England, would a player like Frank Lampard or Michael Essien have a difficult time at playing here in Italy?
Mourinho: “Why do you ask about Chelsea players?
Journalist: “Because it’s a smart way to ask the same question as he did” (points to a journalist who had previously asked if Mourinho would try to bring Lampard & Essien to Inter)
Mourinho: “Yes… yes… (pause) però io non sono pirla (but I am no fool)”

You can find bits of Mourinho’s press conference (in Italian) on Gazzetta’s MediaCenter: part 1 & part 2.

Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea: Penalty Kicks Crown the Red Devils Kings of Europe (UEFA Champions League FINAL)

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Bravo United. For the third time in their history, the Red Devils are Champions of Europe, thanks to a 7-6 penalty shoot-out victory over a very unfortunate Chelsea side. The cruel executioner of penalty kicks made another victim Wednesday night, a Blues team which over 120 minutes had perhaps played better than their opponents, firing more shots in spite of an inferior ball possession. But perhaps fate had a grand plan in mind, and decided this Manchester United team was destined to win a double this year: after the English Premier League, Sir Alex Ferguson will add yet another trophy to his resumé, the second UEFA Champions League of his managerial career.

When it came down to it, Edwin Van der Sar’s save on Nicolas Anelka proved to be the decisive event, after the match had ended 1-1 following extra time (goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Frank Lampard). It was supposed to be great game and it certainly did not disappoint (something not always true with games of this magnitude): there were goals, brilliant pieces of individual play, plenty of near misses, and just the right dose of competitive spirit. The game was a tightly balanced affair, with United playing their best football at the start and end of the game and Chelsea dominating everything in between, hitting a post and the bar.  It is also fair to mention that if the game had to be decided from the penalty spot, it was certainly not because of a defensive mindset on the part of the two sides. Rather, it was much more simply a result of episodes and chance that shaped the game, a refreshing novelty compared to Man Utd’s overly defensive tactics in the playoff round.

UEFA Champions League FINAL - Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea

(From Gazzetta): Effectively, the game only began as a contest 25 minutes after kick-off, as both teams made use of the initial exchanges to study each other’s play. Not that it was the first time these two sides were facing one another mind you, but there just were plenty of fouls and not much play in the initial minutes, making for a broken and unspectacular start to the match.

Then on 26 minutes, the breakthrough: United defender Wes Brown crossed from the right wing, Cristiano Ronaldo rose at the back post to head it in, forgotten by his marker Michael Essien. It was the Portuguese’s 42nd goal of the season, the 8th in the Champions League, making him top scorer of this season’s competition. 1-0 Man Utd.

The goal brought the game into life, which suddenly became an enthralling spectacle. Chelsea’s reply began in the 34th minute, when Didier Drogba crossed in the box and Rio Ferdinand (under pressure from Michael Ballack) almost scored an own goal, with Ewin Van der Sar narrowly tipping the ball out for a corner. United were immediately back at the other end, with Cristiano Ronaldo gliding down the wing and crossing in the box for Carlos Tevez, whose diving header was parried out by Cech. The ball could not be cleared however, and Michael Carrick brought the Czech keeper once again into action and forcing Cech to tip the shot over the bar.

At this stage of the game, the only fans that could be heard singing at the Luzhniki stadium were coloured in red, but this seemed to make no difference whatsoever to their team as Man Utd conspired to miss the easiest chance of the game. Wayne Rooney crossed from the right side, Carlos Tevez slid in from the middle of the box and somehow managed to miss an open goal. And what a costly miss this proved to be, as just before the end of the half a speculative long-range effort from Essien bounced first off Vidic, and then off Ferdinand to fall perfectly at the feet of Frank Lampard. The Blues man found himself in the right place at the right time, and suddenly brought the score level from 10 yards out. 1-1, and a lucky and certainly very timely goal for the Blues, as the referee blew for half time shortly after.

It was now the turn of the Chelsea fans to start singing their hearts out, their side lucky to find themselves in such a position after 45 minutes in which Manchester United, inspired by Ronaldo -who Essien in his makeshift full back position had failed to contain- were the better side.

Both sides began the second half without making any changes as the contest once again turned into a tactical and stuttering affair. Chelsea however were the ones showing the greater belief, heartened perhaps by the fact that they were still in the game despite some close shaves in the first half. Essien and Ballack both had good chances, and United now found themselves under increasing pressure from the Blues. Yet somehow, the Red Devils managed to keep Chelsea out and once again clawed themselves back into the game through Tevez (minute 75). It was Drogba however who blew the most glorious chance, the Ivorian waking from his apparent slumber to strike a stunning right-footed curler that beat Van der Sar but not the post. Chelsea were thus unable to capitalise on a great second half, and with the score tied at 1-1 the game went into extra time.

There were a couple of substitutions at the start of extra time, as Ryan Giggs came on for United to collect his 579th appearance in a red shirt (a new club record), and Solomon Kalou coming on for Chelsea. Chelsea were once again extremely unlucky as Frank Lampard struck a great left-footed shot only to see his effort hit the bar, with everyone in the stadium holding their breath. Chelsea (as expected the stronger of the two sides physically) did not however lose heart and continued to pile on the pressure. United however were not about to give up easily, and like all great sides showed great character and composure. This was almost rewarded when, following some inspirational left-wing play by Evra, Ryan Giggs almost scored from the edge of the box, his shot beating Cech but not John Terry’s head.

At the end of the first period of extra time Sir Alex turned to the fans pleading for all of their support for his players. The last few chances all belonged to United, and there was even a pile up in the box: with tempers flaring, Didier Drogba was the one to pay the highest price receiving his marching orders for a slap on Vidic. Then came the penalties and joy for United. Cristiano Ronaldo missed first putting Chelsea in the driving seat, but Blues captain John Terry blew the chance to clinch the game for his team, slipping and sending shot nº5 off the post. Thus Edwin Van der Sar became the hero of the night, as he saved Nicolas Anelka‘s effort and propelled Manchester to glory.


Manchester United F.C. MAN UTD-CHELSEA
[Match Highlights]
 Chelsea F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 26’ C.Ronaldo (M), 45’ Lampard (C)
MAN UTD (4-3-3): Van der Sar – Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra (122’ Anderson) – Hargreaves, Carrick, Scholes (87’ Giggs) – Tevez, Rooney (101’ Nani), C.Ronaldo. (bench: Kuszczak, Silvestre, O’Shea, Fletcher). Coach: Ferguson.
CHELSEA (4-3-3): Cech – Essien, R.Carvalho, Terry, A.Cole – Ballack, Makelele (122’ Belletti), Lampard – J.Cole (99’ Anelka), Drogba, Malouda (92’ Kalou). (bench: Cudicini, Alex, Mikel, Shevchenko). Coach: Grant.


Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool: Drogba Powers the Blues Into the First CL Final of the Club’s History (UEFA Champions League Semi-Finals, Leg 2)

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

“Third time’s the charm” for the Blues. They couldn’t do it in 2005 when a Luis Garcia goal crushed their hopes at Anfield, nor could they do it in 2007 due to the cruel lottery of penalty kicks. Yet 2008 may prove to be a magical year for Roman Abramovich’s team: in the 3rd semi-final in 4 years opposing the two Premiership sides, Chelsea have finally overcome Liverpool thanks to the power of Didier Drogba and the nerves of steel of Frank Lampard, and will be contending the “cup with the big ears” to Manchester United in Moscow.

In all honesty, Chelsea have come a long way to this achievement. After José Mourinho’s sacking in September, many people had predicted that his surly replacement, former Israel coach Avram Grant, would not even last till the end of the season. Believe what you want now naysayers, the Israeli manager may not be popular, he may not have a witty repartee like his Portuguese predecessor, and he may even be hated by some of his players, but he achieved what Mourinho could not do in his 3 years at Chelsea: lead the Blues to the first UEFA Champions League final of the club’s history.

Tactically, both managers could count on a somewhat complete roster, aside from the expected absences of Paulo Ferreira for Chelsea and Fabio Aurelio for Liverpool. While the replacement of the latter wasn’t exactly worry-free for Rafael Benitez (we all know what John Arne Riise did in the first leg), Avram Grant was much more confident in that regard, given the return of the much-needed Michael Essien from suspension. These two notes aside, both teams’ formations were an exact photocopy of the first leg: 4-3-3 for Chelsea (with Solomon Kalou replacing Malouda on the left wing) and 4-2-3-1 for Liverpool (Yossi Benayoun replacing Babel).

Much like one would expect from a Stamford Bridge match, the first 45 minutes were an almost exclusive affair of the home team. Confident and energetic, Avram Grant’s side adopted without any inhibition the role of favorites, especially because a 0-0 draw would have granted them a guaranteed qualification to the tournament final. To make matters worse for Liverpool, the visitors’ in-form Slovakian center-back, Martin Škrtel, picked up a knock in the 23rd and had to be substituted. His replacement (Finnish veteran Sami Hyypiä) did not prove to be quite as reliable, as we shall see later.

More sooner than later actually, as coincidentally Škrtel was also the man responsible for the marking of Didier Drogba. In minute 33, the Ivorian striker was faster than anyone to pick up Solomon’s Kalou rebound (spilled by Pepe Reina, after a narrowly offside pass from Lampard) and beat the Reds keeper on his first post. 1-0 Chelsea.

Drogba’s goal was merely the tip of the iceberg of a Chelsea-dominated first half. Just before opening the score, the Blues striker had squandered a very good chance in front of the net, exploiting yet another pass by Frank Lampard (attending the match almost at the last minute, still shaken from the loss of his mother earlier last week), and before the half ended Michael Ballack came very close to making it 2-0, as his good free-kick effort grazed Pepe Reina’s post. After 45 minutes, the score was 1-0 for Chelsea.

In the second period, the half-time speech of Rafael Benitez must have done something for Liverpool, because his boys came out of the tunnel with guns blazing. A short-range blast from Dirk Kuyt almost gave the Reds a dream start, had Petr Cech’s great reflexes not been quite as reliable. It was however a precursor of things to come because the visitors slowly built up their confidence, upped the tempo and pressure, and eventually grabbed the equalizer in the 64th. A great dribbling run by Yossi Benayoun was followed by a great through pass for Fernando Torres, right on the edge of the box, and the Spanish striker left very little chance to Cech as he slid the ball into the bottom-right corner. 1-1, and Liverpool’s first goal at Stamford Bridge in 841 minutes of playing time (aka 9 matches).

With the scored tied 1-1, it looked more and more obvious that this game was headed for extra time, especially because neither team was willing to take too many risks on account of the unofficial (but often a reality) “whoever scores first now wins” rule. Chelsea had to be extra careful of course, because any goal conceded at this point would have to be answered with two of their own. Nevertheless, the last “big chance” of the 90 minutes was to the benefit of the home team, as Michael Essien advanced from his right-back position, breaking through inside the box, and shot on the outside part of the goal mesh.

In extra time, there was drama and entertainment aplenty and ironically, many more scoring opportunities (and goals scored) than in the previous 90 minutes. It all started with Hyypiä’s narrowly wide header following a corner-kick, and continued through to Essien’s disallowed goal in the 95th: as it turned out, there were over four Blues players in the offside position but more importantly, Drogba was obstructing the view of Pepe Reina. Good call from the Italian refereeing trio, lead by the expert Roberto Rosetti.

The Blues’ screams of complaint however turned into screams of joy a few minutes later, when a Hyypiä foul on Michael Ballack inside the box gave Chelsea a chance to regain their lead. Much like Riise’s own goal in the first leg this was a big mistake by the Finnish center-back, and allowed Frank Lampard to emotionally dedicate the spot-kick goal to his deceased mother. 2-1 Chelsea.

2-1 became 3-1 just before the first half ended, as a newly-substituted Nicolas Anelka gave his contribution to the match, assisting Didier Drogba with his second goal of the night. 3-1 Chelsea and game effectively over.

Over? Not quite? In minute 117, a mistake by Petr Cech on Ryan Babel’s long-range piledriver gave the Reds an excuse to push everything forward in the final minutes, but even at 3-2 it was too little too late. To quote BBC Sport: “It was a frantic end to an astonishing match, but Chelsea saw it out to send the home fans into raptures and put themselves in with a chance of becoming the first London club to lift Europe’s most sought-after prize.”


3-2 a.e.t (1-1 FT)
[Match Highlights]
Liverpool F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 33’, 105’ Drogba (C), 64’ F.Torres (L), 98’ pen. Lampard (C), 117’ Babel (L)
CHELSEA (4-3-3): Cech – Essien, Carvalho, Terry, A.Cole – Ballack, Makelele, Lampard (119’ Shevchenko) – J.Cole (91’ Anelka), Drogba, Kalou (70’ Malouda). (bench: Cudicini, Alex, Belletti, Mikel). Coach: Grant.
LIVERPOOL (4-2-3-1): Reina – Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel (23’ Hyypia), Riise – Xabi Alonso, Mascherano – Kuyt, Gerrard, Benayoun (78’ Pennant) – F.Torres (99’ Babel). (bench: Itandje, Finnan, Lucas Leiva, Crouch). Coach: Benitez