Posts Tagged ‘Pelé’

Roma 2-1 Inter: Giallorossi’s Bittersweet Revenge, the Cup Goes to Rome (Coppa Italia FINAL)

Sunday, May 25th, 2008


Coppa Italia Tim Cup 2007-08In an exciting Roma-Inter Coppa Italia final (reaching its 4th match-up in consecutive years), the Giallorossi grabbed their season consolation prize. I say “bittersweet” in the title and that deserves some explanation. Sweet firstly, because beating one’s big rivals is always great, especially after a season-long head-to-head race in the Serie A and especially if those rivals are Inter. And bitter because… well there’s only so much a Coppa Italia win can compensate. As every Serie A fan will testify, winning the Scudetto’s a whole other ballpark and for Roma, that will have to wait another year.


Saturday’s evening began with the national anthem, in honour of Italy’s president Giorgio Napolitano who was present in the stands. The notes of the “Inno di Mameli” could hardly be heard however, as the Stadio Olimpico cauldron (Roma’s Curva Sud especially, timidly imitated by the few Nerazzurri supporters) roamed with Giallorossi cheers. 

Attention then shifted to the pitch, with Roma showing their winning intentions straight away. Simone Perrotta forced Nicolas Burdisso to clear the ball off the line (though there was a clear offside call), then tried a fierce shot on the volley (saved). He was shortly imitated by Mirko Vucinic, who just failed to clear the wall from a free-kick: all in the first 6 minutes. Inter reacted according to the script: they made every effort to slow down the pace, working hard and trying long balls towards David Suazo and Mario Balotelli, the Nerazzurri “speed tandem” in absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (once again injured). The pair managed to get a few shots on goal, and was supported in their efforts by Maxwell, who forced Doni into a low save in minute 13.

As for Roma, Spalletti’s men were also forced (surprisingly) to abandon their usual playing style at times, resorting to long balls towards lone target man Vucinic. Despite this tactical change chances for the Giallorossi flourished, as in the 15th minute mark when Ludovic Giuly shot high over the bar from an excellent position inside the area. As the minutes passed, Inter defended well, with Burdisso in great form, and slowly they managed to gain ground. Mid-way through the first half came a good header from Balotelli which grazed the crossbar, then Maxwell’s great shot that Doni was forced to deflect into corner.

At this point, though, Roma woke up again: partly because these two chances had rung the alarm bell, and partly because Inter were now more open and the Giallorossi were able to play their more attractive game (rapid counterattacks coupled with short passing on the ground). New chances thus developed for Vucinic and Perrotta, peaking with Philippe Mexes‘s goal in minute 35: the French center-back burst forward like a true striker to meet David Pizarro’s corner, and knocked the ball in with a powerful right-footed volley. 1-0 Roma

After conceding their goal, the Inter defense disintegrated: no longer impeccable as it had been at the start (partly thanks to the movement of Vucinic and Perrotta who often swapped positions, supported by the effective Pizarro-Aquilani axis), the Nerazzurri risked going down by two as Mexès once again came close to net with a narrowly wide header. The half ended with the Giallorossi deservedly ahead by one goal.

In the second period, Roma picked up where they had left off: attacking forward. Perrotta tried his luck by foot and by header, followed by Vucinic (shooting wide with Aquilani free in space). On the other side, Inter coach Roberto Mancini decided to insert Pelé on in place of Dejan Stankovic (seemingly very edgy). The substitution didn’t exactly have the desired effect: Vucinic immediately made amends for his missed pass to Aquilani, and exchanged passes with Simone Perrotta on the edge of the Inter box, allowing the Roma midfielder to tap into the empty net 8 minutes after the restart. 2-0 Roma.

Just 6 minutes later however, Pelé got to work. The Nerazzurro prodigy showed what he was made of, and executed a spectacular shot from outside the area that left Roma keeper Doni rooted to the spot. 2-1.

Now Inter believed. Mancini pumped up the quality of his team by inserting Luis Jimenez, and Burdisso – doing no less than Mexès – showed off with a diving header that only the woodwork denied (Doni was beatedn). For Roma the game had changed: Spalletti’s men could no longer simply enjoy themselves: it was time to produce hard work and endurance.

The remaining 20 minutes were all nerves, yellow cards, cramps and injuries: football in its spectacular sense vanished. Injury time extended to 6 minutes, a while during which Burdisso once again grabbed the spotlight, with a dangerous volley on the turn (wide). The fact that shooting tasks always seemed to fall to him was however quite indicative: Inter forwards were no longer in the game. Eventually, the referee called full time thus allowing the Coppa Italia to stay in Rome. Passion and hard work was the succesful recipe for the Giallorossi on Saturday, something that Roma’s nº10 (a certain Francesco Totti, who came out onto the pitch to celebrate and hoist the cup) is no stranger to.


[Match Highlights]
F.C. Internazionale Milano
GOALSCORERS: 35’ Mexès (R), 53’ Perrotta (R), 59’ Pelé (I)
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni – Cassetti, Juan, Mexès, Tonetto – De Rossi, D.Pizarro – Giuly (65’ Cicinho), Aquilani (91’ Panucci), Perrotta (74’ Brighi) – Vucinic. (bench: Curci, Antunes, M.Esposito, Mançini). Coach: Spalletti.
INTER (4-1-4-1): Toldo – Maicon, Burdisso, Chivu, Maxwell – J.Zanetti (89’ Crespo) – Balotelli, Vieira, Cesar (61’ Jiménez), Stankovic (46’ Pelé) – Suazo. (bench: Julio Cesar, Solari, Maniche, Fatic). Coach: R.Mancini.


Lazio 0-2 Inter Milan: Cynical Nerazzurri Head to the Italian Cup Final (Coppa Italia Semi-Finals, Leg 2)

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Lazio vs. Inter (Serie A)

Coppa Italia Tim Cup 2007-08In Italian, there’s an expression that perfectly defines the nature of Inter’s Coppa Italia performance of Wednesday night: “massimo risultato con il minimo sforzo“, which translates to “maximum results with the minimum amount of effort”. Any additional comment would be superfluous.

Ok fine, I’ll tell you just a little bit more. To use the words of Gazzetta (who defined the team as “an expert vulture, awaiting its prey to punish it“), the Nerazzurri played the ‘waiting game’ on Wednesday night. It’s really a fun little game, and it goes something like this: “let your opponents run around the pitch, allow them to keep ball possession & create most of the scoring chances, then rely on them missing those chances and hit them on the counter-attack”. Sounds like a lot of fun, right? Delio Rossi wasn’t too amused though, especially since he drew the card “Your 44 year-old goalkeeper has butterfingers, and gifts the opponent a goal. Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200“…

Such a shame too, because the Coppa Italia was originally supposed to Lazio’s “tournament of redemption” (you know, after a kinda crappy season and all). There was little doubt manager Delio Rossi was going for victory tonight, especially because of the highly offensive 4-3-3 starting line-up, featuring the Pandev-Bianchi-Rocchi trio up front. On Inter’s end, Roberto Mancini had to deal with post-Derby della Madonnina repercussions (losing to AC Milan is never an happy event) but decided to rotate his team nonetheless, fielding Francesco Toldo in goal and relying on the youth and energy of Primavera Francesco Bolzoni. The Nerazzurri’s 4-4-1-1 formation included Luis Jimenez operating behind lone striker David Suazo.

During the first half, and serving as a representative of pretty much their entire season, we saw two faces of Inter. In the first 20 minutes, the Nerazzurri appeared lazy, uninspired, and out of gas, which is a face we’ve been seeing more and more often in Serie A after the Winter break. Not even the two woodworks hit by Lazio in the initial minutes (the 2nd minute free-kick post by Cristian Ledesma and the 15th minute strike by Tommaso Rocchi) gave Inter the necessary “wake-up” signal to stick their heads out of the hole. The Biancocelesti were pressuring high up, exerting complete domination on central midfield, and there was little that the inexperienced Bolzoni and Pelé were doing to counteract the situation. The absence of a player like Esteban Cambiasso (on the bench) was all-too-evident…

Eventually, Mancini decided to reposition Javier Zanetti in the center, and things finally started to work out for the Nerazzurri. Their wing distribution became more efficient, Luis Jiménez could operate a little more freely in his offensive playmaker role, and began getting closer to Marco Ballotta’s net. His 39th minute sliding finish, one-on-one with the Lazio keeper (after a great heel set-up by Suazo), was narrowly wide of the post however.

In the second half Lazio continued their offensive efforts, and immediately brought danger close to Toldo’s goal. The Inter defense however kept close guard, and soon the Biancocelesti would be biting their nails for their missed chances. On virtually the first shot on goal of the second period, Inter grabbed the lead: like a speeding bullet, Suazo got through on the right wing and made a low cross for Pelé. The Portuguese U21 international waited for the ball to arrive, and then popped a one-time instepper that finished its course straight into Ballotta’s top-right corner! A great goal and 1-0 Inter.

The goal was a tough slap in the face for Lazio, who up until then had essentially dominated the encounter. On the contrary, galvanized by his team’s lead Mancini switched his formation back to two strikers, inserting Julio Cruz for Bolzoni and re-positioning Jiménez on the right wing. Grabbing back the reins of play wasn’t sufficient for the Inter manager however, who somehow managed to get sent off for dissent just a few minutes later. On the other end, Delio Rossi seemed to maintain faith in his current formation, only replacing Zauri with Aleksandar Kolarov.

As time passed by, Lazio became more and more active in the Inter box (especially through Pandev, Dabo, and Kolarov) but were always a few feet away from hitting the target, and the fact the Nerazzurri coach (Mancini’s second-in-command) had inserted Marco Materazzi and Maicon for Burdisso and Chivu certainly wasn’t helping in making the Inter defense more penetrable. It seems ironic then that during this period, much like what had happened to Mancini a few minutes earlier, the team that seemed to be “in control” of their situation got one player sent off and came dangerously close to finishing the game with 9 men (first a punch by Cruz on Kolarov was punished only with a yellow, then Materazzi received a direct red for an overly mean tackle from behind).

Even more ironic was that despite playing with 10 men, Inter increased their lead to 2-0, putting their qualification on ice. A right-wing cross by Pelé was “intercepted” by Ballotta, but the Lazio keeper ended up colliding with a defender, released the ball, and Julio Cruz simply had to apply the finish into the empty net. 2-0 Inter and game over. This will be the Nerazzurri’s 4th consecutive Coppa Italia final, and considering how close their 16th Scudetto title is, this will also be Mancini’s opportunity to make a double this year. Perhaps over Roma and perhaps as the last trophy as Inter manager, who knows?


[Match Highlights]
F.C. Internazionale Milano
GOALSCORERS: 52’ Pelé (I), 85’ Cruz (I)
LAZIO (4-3-3): Ballotta – De Silvestri (87’ Tare), Siviglia, Cribari, Zauri (66’ Kolarov) – Dabo (80’ Mutarelli), Ledesma, Behrami – Pandev, Bianchi, Rocchi (bench: Muslera, Rozehnal, Mauri, Mudingayi). Coach: D.Rossi
INTER (4-4-1-1): Toldo – Burdisso (68’ Materazzi), Rivas, Chivu (77’ Maicon), Maxwell – J.Zanetti, Pelé, Bolzoni (59’ Cruz), Cesar – Jiménez – Suazo (bench: Julio Cesar, Siligardi, Cambiasso, Crespo). Coach: R.Mancini